Sunday, 21 December 2014

Yao story of creation

Eons ago, before the dawn of time, God existed only with animals. As in many Bantu creation myths, God and animals were eternal, they have always been there since the beginning of time. They lived in a vast expanse of land and water, and the sky and earth were ever close to each other.

The chameleon was a mythical creature, a fisherman casting his fish traps in the mystical waters. The chameleon has always been an important animal in Bantu myths and legends. It is at the heart of many Bantu tribe creation myths. It is seen as a wise creature and also a herald of life and death.

One day the chameleon had set a fish trap in the vast sapphire waters. He went about his daily business, but when he later on returned to check the trap, he found that he had caught nothing. Chameleon was determined to get a catch, he set the trap again the following day and when he went to check the trap to his surprise he had caught some very peculiar creatures, man and woman.

Man and woman were such tiny creatures, the first of their kind. The chameleon had never seen anything like them and he did not know what to do with them. Man and woman begged the chameleon that he should set them free. Chameleon, confused about what to do decided to take them to God to seek advice as what to do with them. 

God, having seen the tiny creatures told the chameleon not to kill them. He told chameleon that he should set them fee so that they should live to grow to their full maturity. God summoned all the animals of the skies above and the earth and water below to inform them about the creatures and this marked the first encounter of human beings and animals. 

The human beings were smart and learned quickly. They started hunting other animals and the animals lived in fear. Soon the male creature started twirling sticks and smoke started to gather. This caused fear among the animals and they warned man to be careful. Man however did not heed the warning and in the end fire was created. Man created an unstoppable inferno that reduced everything to ashes. The grass thatched roof of God was set alight by the fire, chameleon managed to climb a tree, but God was very old he could not run, spider spun a web to rescue God. From that moment it is said that God said when humans die they shall join him in heaven and serve him as slaves.

This is the creation myth of the Yao tribe of Malawi. This myth has similarities to other creation myths of the Bantu tribes, including the Chewa tribe of Malawi.