Lozi mythology

The main function of Lozi mythology is to show that the original Lozi people (the Luyi or Luyana) were dwellers on the Barotse Floodplain of the upper Zambezi River and that they are, therefore, entitled to claim unchallenged title to that homeland. Secondly, Lozi mythology gives legitimacy to the Lozi kingdom's foundations, by linking the monarchy and the people to a creator god, whom the Lozi call Nyambe.

Nyambe's wife was Nasilele (which means "she who is associated with long things") and his mother was Ngula (which means "she who is pregnant"). Nyambe is said to have created both his wife and his mother. He is also said to have created everything else that exists, including the heaven, the Earth and all the plants and animals.

The founding myths

The Lozi founding myth is not cast in stone, there are several versions of it, depending on who is telling the story. Like any other oral tradition, it has changed with the passage of time, but there are some elements that do not change, such as the name of the creator god, the name of the first man, and the name of the first sovereign.

The three versions of the Lozi founding myth given below are not the only ones.

Nyambe flees from Kamunu

One of Nyambe's creations was Kamunu, the first human being. Nyambe gave Kamunu the task of naming all the other creations and told the human being that all the animals were his siblings. As such he should look after them.

Kamunu, being the most intelligent of all Nyambe's creations, rapidly learned and copied Nyambe's various skills: the mastery over fire; the forging of metal; the art of moulding pottery; the carving of spoons, plates and canoes; the sowing of crops; and the domestication of animals. Although Nyambe was at first impressed, he soon became tired of Kamunu's mimicry, especially when the man started killing the animals and cooking their meat for food. Nyambe told Kamunu not to kill the other creatures but Kamunu would not stop. To punish this misbehaviour, Nyambe begun taking away Kamunu's possessions: first his pot broke, then his dog died and eventually his son died. This, according to the Lozi, was the way that death came to the human race.

In frustration, Nyambe moved away from Kamunu on several occasions but, wherever Nyambe moved to on the Zambezi floodplains, Kamunu would follow. Eventually Nyambe decided to cross the Zambezi River, but Kamunu carved a canoe and followed. Nyambe built a mountain and lived on its summit, but Kamunu climbed the mountain and found Nyambe. Finally, Nyambe decided to move away from Earth into heaven (called Litooma in Lozi mythology). To accomplish this, and to prevent Kamunu from following, Nyambe instructed a spider to weave a web. Once Nyambe had used the spider's web to climb into Litooma, he blinded the spider so that it would not tell Kamunu how to get to heaven.

That is how Kamunu remained on Earth, condemned to live and die here after Nyambe refused to provide medicine to prevent disease and death. Hence death is Kamunu's divine punishment for his disobedient behaviour.

Nyambe founds the Lozi nation

In this version, Nyambe is shown to be the founder of the Lozi nation. Nyambe and his wife Nasilele had a daughter Mwambwa (which means "one who is being talked about"). In a variation on this theme, Nyambe is said to have created many wives for himself and had children by all of them. (This story also legitimises polygyny in the Lozi nation.) When Mwambwa had grown up, Nyambe fell in love with her and had incestuous sexual intercourse with her. When Nasilele found out what had happened between her husband and her daughter, she quarrelled with her husband and beat her daughter. Nyambe was so upset by his wife's behaviour that he called his servant, Sasisho, and announced his decision to return to heaven. Nyambe ordered a spider to spin a web, so that he and his servant could climb to heaven leaving Nasilele on Earth. Due to her remorse, Nasilele died a few weeks later.

Mwambwa, the daughter of Nyambe and Nasilele, later became the first Luyi sovereign and, therefore, founder of the nation. Her eldest daughter, whose name was Mbuyu and who was presumably conceived from the incest with Nyambe, took over the sovereignty from her mother.

Nyambe founds the Lozi nation as the first person

In this version of the founding myth, Nyambe was not the creator god but was the first human being. All Luyi peoples were said to have originated from him. In this account, the identity of the Creator is not stated explicitly. Instead, the people in the myth are simply stated to have been living on the Zambezi floodplains. Nyambe's village was called Litooma-mundi-wa-Nyambe (which means "heaven, the home of Nyambe" in Luyana) and his first wife was called Mwambwa. She later became the first female chief of the Luyi people. Through this myth, the Lozi royalty was said to originate from Mwambwa. She was, therefore, given the title Njemakati (which means "a woman from whom the kingdom originates"). She is also said to have given birth to nine other children, including a daughter named Mbuyu, who took over the sovereignty from her mother.

References

List of religions and spiritual traditions

While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who defined it as a

[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic." A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category." Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Religion

Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists, and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. It contrasts with North Africa, whose territories are part of the League of Arab states within the Arab world. The states of Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros and the Arabic speaking Mauritania are however geographically in sub-Saharan Africa, although they are members of the Arab League as well. The UN Development Program lists 46 of Africa’s 54 countries as “sub-Saharan,” excluding Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan and Tunisia.The Sahel is the transitional zone in between the Sahara and the tropical savanna of the Sudan region and farther south the forest-savanna mosaic of tropical Africa.

Since probably 3500 BCE, the Saharan and sub-Saharan regions of Africa have been separated by the extremely harsh climate of the sparsely populated Sahara, forming an effective barrier interrupted by only the Nile in Sudan, though the Nile was blocked by the river's cataracts. The Sahara pump theory explains how flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) left Africa to penetrate the Middle East and beyond. African pluvial periods are associated with a Wet Sahara phase, during which larger lakes and more rivers existed.The use of the term has been criticized because it refers to the South only by cartography conventions and projects a connotation of inferiority; a vestige of colonialism, which some say, divided Africa into European terms of homogeneity.

Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel (Hebrew: מִגְדַּל בָּבֶל‎, Migdal Bavel) as told in Genesis 11:1–9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages.According to the story, a united humanity in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating westward, comes to the land of Shinar (שִׁנְעָר). There they agree to build a city and a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God, observing their city and tower, confounds their speech so that they can no longer understand each other, and scatters them around the world.

Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk in Babylon. A Sumerian story with some similar elements is told in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.

Traditional African religions

The traditional African religions (or traditional beliefs and practices of African people) are a set of highly diverse beliefs that include various ethnic religions. Generally, these traditions are oral rather than scriptural, include belief in a supreme creator, belief in spirits, veneration of the dead, use of magic and traditional African medicine. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonising nature with the supernatural. According to Lugira, "it is the only religion that can claim to have originated in Africa. Other religions found in Africa have their origins in other parts of the world."

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