(This is a summary of a much longer story from the
Western African Yoruba People, the Nigerians.)
In the beginning, the universe consisted only of the sky, the water, and the wild marshlands. The God Obatala, Creator of humans and land on Earth (Olorun‘s “favorite”) believed that the world needed more – he goes to Olorun (ruler of the sky and creator of the sun), asking for permission to create mountains, valleys, forests, and fields. Olorun grants Obatala permission to create solid land on Earth.
Obatala goes to Orunmila (the God of Prophecy), oldest son of Olorun. Orunmila tells Obatala that he will need a gold chain to reach from the sky to the waters below. Obatala goes to the goldsmith, who agrees to build the chain, if Obatala brings him the gold. Obatala goes to every god, asking for gold.
When the chain is complete, Obatala descends onto Earth, carrying a snail shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut.
When Obatala climbs down, he realizes that the chain is not long enough. Orunmila calls out to Obatala, and tells him to dump the sand onto the Earth and drop the hen. The hen scratches at the sand, spreading it around and forming the first solid land on Earth.
Obatala lets go of the chain and falls to earth, naming the place where he landed “Ife.”
He plants the palm nut, which immediately sprouts into a palm tree. Obatala keeps the cat for company.
Although Obatala keeps the cat, he still becomes lonely. He begins to make clay figures in the likeness of himself. Obatala grows tired while assembling the clay figures, and decides that he needs some wine to drink. He makes wine from the juice of the palm tree, and he becomes drunk. He continues to make clay figures in his drunkenness, and the figures become deformed. Olorun breathes life into Obatala’s figures, and they become human beings.
Obatala realizes that his drunkenness has resulted in deformity, and he vows to be the protector of all who are born deformed. The humans created by Obatala come together to form the first Yoruba Village in Ife.
Obatala returns to the sky – thereafter, he splits his time between Ife and his home in the sky.
That is the end of this story.
To view our source, please click here.
A most interesting recounting of the creation of land by the Yoruba. We find the story to be both mysterious and intriguing. Although it ends abruptly, it is not our duty nor privilege to translate or interpret, but to share with you that which we have received.
Within the lodges of the WeWán Institute, we will delve deeper into the meanings, with the permission and assistance of the Legacy Wisdom Keepers from around the world – The Lodge of the Ganawenindán atn Nibwákáwin.
There are so many more stories that reside deep within the culture of this great African society, the Nigerians… this is just the beginning.
It is interesting that in the story of creation, as told by us (humans), we place ourselves as the chosen one to continue to creation work from the beginning. Is this egotistical or by design?
Today humankind continues to grow by learning the wonderments of the great gifts of Creation itself. From this we can deduce that as humans we have assumed the responsibility for the care and growth of the creative process begun so long ago.
Wisdom learned from the Storytellers:
- There are vital basics within each culture – who we are, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.
- All things important require much effort and the cooperation of others.
- No matter how hard we try, we are not as perfect as our deity, and therefore anything we create brings responsibility for its well-being.
Africa is a very large continent and there are many diverse cultures and people who live upon this cradle of humanity. Therefore the Institute brings you more than one story to establish balance, and respect the vastness of this most special place!
Call for Wisdom Keepers: We would be honored to speak with those wisdom keepers in your circle. If you know of a wisdom keeper, an elder… Please help us make the connection.