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Wuni Prohibits Intercourse


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(Dagomba/Ghana)

Wuni is the supreme god.

At the beginning of the world, Wuni, not wanting men and women to mix, arranged for the men to live in one town and the women in another. To assure that there would be no intercourse between them, he scattered masses of dry leaves all around the towns, so that if someone went out at night he would hear the rustling of the leaves and would be able to prevent his reaching the other town. Because the women did not approve of Wuni's idea, they collected pots of water and poured it on the leaves each night, making it possible for them to go to the men without Wuni's knowledge. This plan was satisfactory to the men. But one day all the women menstruated and they did not, therefore, arrange for the extra supply of water. Now, in the bachelors' town three young men grew impatient when their loved ones did not arrive, and they therefore went to see what was the matter. But as they left the town, the rustling of leaves awakened Wuni, who at once challenged them. When they explained what they were doing, Wuni became angry. To punish the offenders, he said that, since they had broken his wishes, in the future they should suffer—women would no longer run to men, but men would ever have to chase and hunt down women.

In the beginning of time, Wuni and Mother Earth lived close together, and Wuni lay on top of Mother Earth. But Wuni became annoyed when an old woman, while making her fufu (mashed yams) outside her house, kept knocking Wuni with her pestle. This hurt him, and as she persisted he was forced to go higher out of her reach.

In the olden time, men did not die, and except for the chiefs they passed their whole time as slaves. They at last grew weary of this eternal bondage and decided to send a messenger to Wuni to beg him to put an end to their servitude. They chose for this duty their friend, the dog, and he departed on his errand. As he ran along the road that led to the dwelling place of Wuni, he came to a village where there was an old woman cooking a pot of something over a fire. The dog thought it a good chance to get some food and sat down nearby, gazing at the pot. The old woman tried to chase him away, but that made him more anxious to share what was in the pot. While he was waiting, a young goat who had overheard the message of the men came along, and seeing the dog tarrying decided he would do a good thing if he himself took the message and delivered it to Wuni. He therefore went on. Now, the dog had to wait a long time, and at last the pot was boiling. The old woman took it off and, taking a baby, opened the lid of the pot—the pot was only full of water, with which she began to wash the infant. The dog, annoyed, ran down the road to Wuni. On his way, he met the goat, who asked him where he was off to. The dog told him, and the goat replied that it was unnecessary to proceed, as he himself had given the message. The dog asked him what message, and when the goat told him that he had arrived at Wuni's compound and told God that men were tired of being slaves and now wanted to die, the dog was very upset and hurried to Wuni to correct the mistake. He came to God, who refused to listen to the new message, saying that he did not believe it and that he had already arranged for the death of men. So it is that death comes to all men and men remained slaves.

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Subjects: Religion.


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