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Bumba


According to the Boshongo tribe of the Congo Region, Bumba –also known as Mbombo or Mbongo— is the creator of all animals, including man.


Only very powerful shamans (witch doctors) have seen Bumba and they give conflicting reports of his appearance to confuse the uninitiated. However, two recurring depictions are that of a chieftain of one of the forest tribes, although of immensely greater stature, and that of a gigantic, chalk-skinned man.

The creation myth tells that Bumba appeared magically at the beginning of the world. He was alone with water and darkness covering the Earth, when he felt an intense pain in his stomach. Then, he straightened up, and vomited up the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. Then, the Sun's heat and light evaporated the water, forming the clouds in the sky, and soon after, dry hills emerged from the water.


Bumba still felt bad and again vomited, but instead of inanimate objects, he vomited up many animals. He vomited up the leopard (Koy Bumba), the eagle (Ponga Bumba), the crocodile (Ganda Bumba), the fish (Yo Bumba), the tortoise (Kono Bumba), a black leopard-like animal (Tsetse Bumba), a white heron (Nyanyi Bumba), a scarab, and a goat named Budi. He examined the creatures and felt they lacked something, so he vomited once more, this time creating two-legged animals, which had powers denied to all the others: the first human beings.


Exhausted from his labors, he sat and watched as the nine creatures multiplied, and after a while, they evolved into every living thing on Earth. Then, he made strict rules for the behavior of all his creatures, but Tsetse Bumba (who from a leopard-like creature turned into a fiery spirit), refused to obey them. Due to the chaos she was causing, Tsetse Bumba was banished from the earth and cast away into sky, and although Bumba could have destroyed her, he allowed her to exist because she caused the lightning, which gave fire to mankind. But after Tsetse Bumba was chased away into the sky, the humans were left with no source of fire to make tools and weapons, and to cook food. So Bumba taught the humans how to create fire by using trees.


Three of Bumba’s sons then said they would finish creating the world. The first to try, Nyonye Ngana, vomited white ants, but died after. To honor him, the ants went deep in the earth for dark soil to bury him and transformed the barren sands at the earth's surface. The second, Chonganda, created the first plant, which in turn gave rise to all trees, grasses and flowers. And Chedi Bumba, the third son, made the last bird, the kite.


Once the creation was complete and peaceful, Bumba loneliness abated and finally he was content, so he delivered it to mankind and retreated into the heavens, leaving Loko Yima (the first man) to serve as "god upon the earth."


References

-Leeming, David Adams, Ed. 1992. The world of myth: an anthology. Oxford University Press,

-Wasserman, A. 2003. Common Themes Found in the Diversity of Creation Myths Within Africa’s Traditional Religions. IROHIN, 9.


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