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Wulbari and the Bird That Liked Human Flesh


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(Krachi/Togo)

Wulbari is the creator god.

Because of people's disrespect, Wulbari retreated from earth and rose to the sky. In the beginning, he and man lived close together and Wulbari lay on top of Mother Earth, Asase Ya. But as there was so little space to move about in, man annoyed the divinity, who in disgust went away, ascending to the present place, where one can admire him but not reach him. Various reasons are given for his retreat from the earth, out of the reach of men. An old woman, while making her fufu outside her house, kept knocking Wulbari with her pestle. This hurt him and, as she persisted, he was forced to go higher out of her reach. And there was this: the smoke of the cooking fires got into his eyes so that he had to go farther away. And this: Wulbari, being so close to men, made a convenient sort of towel, and the people used to wipe their dirty fingers on him. And this: he moved away because an old woman, anxious to make a good soup, used to cut off a bit of him at each mealtime, and he, being pained by this treatment, moved higher and higher, away from men.

In the very olden time, Wulbari sent down some men by means of a chain, and they settled in the coppice between Nkomi and Krachi. At the same time, he sent down some women, also by a chain. They were on the other side of the Frao (Volta), and lived where Krachi itself now stands. Now, it happened that no men were born in Krachi and no women in the coppice. The young men did not seem to like this, and at last they arose one day and said to elders that they were dissatisfied with their enforced celibacy, adding, “Let us go to the women.” Therefore they arose, and that is how Krachi came by its name and how the Krachi people originated.

A certain bird, Animabri, the giant ground toucan, developed one day an evil liking for human flesh. He began to kill and devour all the men he encountered. And the men began to cry out. Their cries were heard by Wulbari, who asked what it was all about. When he was told, he called his court together and told them that in the future no one was to interfere with other people, but that each one of them was to mind his own business and not disturb his neighbor. He then asked each of his attendants to name his people and his place. The elephant told how he roamed in and controlled the far countryside—that was his people. Then all the other animals defined their respective realms. The goat said that his people were the grass; and finally the dog declared that men were his subjects. Wulbari gave the dog a medicine that would restore life to those dead whom the toucan had killed. Each then went to his kingdom. Now, the dog did not have far to go, but along the way he found a bone and, being hungry, put the medicine down by the roadside and began to chew on the bone. While he was doing this, the goat came along and saw the medicine lying there unguarded. So he took it and scattered it all over his people. The dog, when he finished his meal, could not find the magic drug. He returned to Wulbari, but God would do nothing. That is why to this day men die and do not return, but grass that dies every year comes back again.

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Subjects: Religion.


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