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Soko and the Origin of Death


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(Nupe/Nigeria)

Soko is the sky god, who created the world and then withdrew himself from communion with man. God, having created the world, gave men access to certain mystical forces, making them at the same time subject to these and leaving them to make use of these powers and of the material world.

In the beginning, there was a man called Ancestor Ada and a woman called Ancestor Adama. They had two children, one male, one female, who in turn begot two children, male and female. The male child died immediately after birth, while the girl remained alive. When she grew up, she spoke a strange language that her parents could not understand. But a bull who one day rose from the river when the girl was standing on the bank understood the language. Later, the bull became the girl's lover, and she bore him a male child. This child again spoke and understood the strange language. When the boy grew up, he would go to the bank of the river to talk to the bull, until one day the bull climbed out of the river and followed the boy on dry land wherever he went. This boy was the ancestor of the Cow Fulani, and the bull the first of the Fulani cattle. Ancestor Adama had a third child, a girl called Mureamu, who had three children, two sons and a daughter. When they grew up, the two young men both desired their sister. They quarreled and one was killed. So it was that death and murder first appeared in the world. The couple that remained did not know what to do with the dead body. They carried the corpse on their shoulders for three days, lamenting and crying, but could not get rid of it. At last, Soko caused the earth to open, and they placed the body inside, and the practice of burial and three days' mourning for the dead began. The couple now stayed together and begot a male child, who became the ancestor of the Nupe people. See also: Tsoede.

Subjects: Religion.


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