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Tilo and the Child Found in Heaven


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(Ronga/Mozambique)

Tilo is the supreme being.

A girl is sent to get water. On the way home, she breaks the vessel containing the water. She is afraid that she will be punished, so wishes for a rope. Suddenly, she sees a rope uncoiling itself from a cloud. She climbs the rope, and finds herself in the country above the sky: it is similar to her own country. She goes to a ruined village and sees an old woman. The old woman calls her, and the girl tells her the story. The woman tells the girl to proceed, that an ant will creep into her ear and tell her how to cope in this strange country. When she comes to another village, she hears a whisper: she should not go in, just sit by the gate. Some old men in white come to her; she tells them she is seeking a baby. They take her to a house where women are working; they send her for corn. She brings it, following the instructions of the ant, and is praised for her efficiency. She is told to grind corn and make porridge, and she again has the advice of the ant, and is again praised by the Heaven-dwellers. Next day, the elders take her to a house where babies are laid out on the ground, some in white, some in red. The ant tells her to select a baby in white. The men give her cloth and beads, and send her home. Everyone is excited about the girl they had thought lost, but the younger sister is envious. She goes to the rope, climbs it, but refuses to heed the advice of the old woman, shakes the ant from her head, ravages the corn garden, does not grind the corn well or make satisfactory porridge. And she selects a baby wrapped in red. There is a sudden explosion, and she is struck dead. Tilo gathers her bones, and a man carries the bundle home. Along the way, the ant and the old woman tell her that she would not have died had she been less wicked. The bones are deposited at her home, and the conclusion is that Tilo, Heaven, was angry with her.

Subjects: Religion.


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