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Zambe Creates the Races


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(Bulu/Cameroon)

Zambe was the creator.

Zambe, the son of Membe'e, the one who supports the world, was sent to create man, the chimpanzee, elephant, and gorilla, each of whom he named after himself. One of the men he created was black, another was white. Zambe gave his new creations water, tools, fire, the book. The new beings stirred the fire. When smoke got in the white man's eyes, he went away with the book. Chimpanzee left the fire and the other gifts, and went into the forest to eat the fruit there. Gorilla followed, and Elephant stood around. The black man stirred the fire, not bothering about the book. When the creator came for a visit, he called his creatures together and asked what they had done with the things he had given them. When Chimpanzee and Gorilla said what they had done, Zambe condemned them: they would have hairy bodies, big teeth, and live forever in the forest, eating fruit. Elephant received the same destiny. Then Zambe asked the black man where his book was. The black man replied that he had not had time to read it because he was tending the fire. Zambe told him that he would continue to do that, he would have to spend his life working hard for others because he lacked book knowledge. Zambe turned to the white man and asked him what he had done with the gifts. The white man said that he had read the book, and God said that the white man would continue to do that, that the white man would know many things but would need the black man to care for him because the white man knew nothing about keeping warm and growing food. So it is that the animals live in the forest, white men sit about reading a lot, and black men work hard and have control of fire.

Subjects: Religion.


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