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Myth / African Mythology

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The Dahomey creator deity Mawu-Lisa.

The traditional beliefs and practices of African people like their history remains largely unfamiliar and unknown to the European and American public compared to more popular worldwide mythologies like Greeco-Roman and Pagan Germanic. This page deals with all tribes and cultures originating from Africa, except for the Ancient Egyptians. We should mention that like with the Native Americans, this page encompasses a huge array of different people grouped here together for the sake of convenience. Worth knowing is that a large portion of these stories are oral tradition that haven't survived to the present day or have been "rewritten" with the introduction of the modern Abrahamic religions.

The Hollywood History version of this are Darkest Africa and Ancient Africa.



  • The Almighty Dollar:
    • Dedun was one of the few Nubian gods remembered from Ancient Africa. Dedun was associated with the lucrative trade of incense, and so is remembered as a god of wealth and prosperity.
    • Ikenga is a Nigerian god of personal power and "strength of movement", who is also associated with fortune and wealth.
  • The Anti-God: Palo religion has Nzambi and Lungombe, though they are technically different aspects of the supreme creator deity. Lungombe is all of the negatives, Nzambi is the positives.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Anansi the Spider.
  • The Blacksmith: Yoruba mythology has Ogun, a particularly fiery deity whose favorite libation is burning rum.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Yoruba tradition plays with it. Shango could fry his enemies with lightning but is most known for throwing it at people destined to follow his path. He was once a man gifted with the power to wield lighting who shared it with other Orishas after being promoted to their ranks, but because of this, each one of them has a stronger association with something else. Jakuta's meteorites are what are really associated with divine retribution.
    • Amadioha in Odinani religion if he deems you guilty. He can also send bees.
  • Came Back Strong: In Yoruban mythology and Santeria, Shango. He was an ordinary king until he hanged himself and became one of the most powerful (and popular) Orisha. His salute means "the king is not hanged".
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  • Divine Ranks: Many religions in Sub-Saharan Africa have an omnipotent creator god, similar to the Abrahamic God, and other lesser deities that are more like the gods in Greek myth. The former is always distinct from and explicitly superior to the latter.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Nyname of the Ashanti is pretty eldritch in form, the sun is merely one of his eyes. Ngula, who gave birth to him, was created by him before she did so. She is somehow both his mother and daughter. He is a very nice guy so it is hard to call him an abomination. His response to being struck repeatedly by an old woman was to not come back to Earth rather than strike back.
  • God Is Evil: There's a certain tribe in Africa who believe that their supreme god created humanity because he was bored and wanted something to torture. There's good news, though: you can rebel against him, and in fact it is the right and duty of every human to do so.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: In the mythology of Nigeria's Yoruba people, Top God Olorun has a chameleon messenger named Agemo. When Olorun granted Obatala permission to create solid land, a powerful water deity named Olokun (who may be male or female, depending on the version of the mythology) was not happy due to the reduction of their territory. So they challenged Olorun to a weaving contest, hoping to prove themselves the more regal deity, and thus more worthy of being leader of the gods. Olorun sent Agemo to compete in his place, and Agemo copied the color of every outfit Olokun made. Olokun submitted to Olorun's authority, under the logic that if Agemo was their equal, then Olorun must be their superior.
  • Impossible Task:
    • In an African myth, a man tasks his boys with buying enough objects to fill a certain room, to determine who would inherit his farm. The first two boys tried to do it with grain and feathers but failed, while the third son took out a candle and match, filling the room with light.
    • In the mythology of the Akan people of West Africa, the sky god Nyame owned all the stories on Earth. When Anansi the trickster spider offered to buy them, Nyame set a price of four dangerous and/or elusive creatures: Onini the Python, Osebo the Leopard, the Mboro Hornets, and Mmoatia the fairy. Anansi managed to capture all of them through trickery and guile, and Nyame keeps his bargain, which is why we have stories.
  • Kill the God: In Odinani religion, every god except for the Superior one who is the origin of all things, only exists to serve a specific purpose. One that purpose has been fulfilled they die. In this case "killing" them would be a good thing, as it means you are becoming more self sufficient.
  • Lilliputian Warriors: In Zulu folklore there are the Abatwa, who ride ants and are gravely insulted if you say they are small. They kill humans with venomous spears which can even pierce a boot if they happen to be stepped on.
  • Lord of the Ocean: In Yoruba belief, the orisha Olokun is described as the King of the Oceans. He has rulership over all other water deities and is usually thought of as having an Ambiguous Gender, being depicted as male, female, or androgynous (in acknowledgement of the fluid nature of water). Occasionally, the title of sea deity is given to his daughter Yemoja instead.
  • Love Goddess: The goddess Oshun from the Yoruba religion.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Carnivorous trees were supposed to exist in the Nubian rainforest. They reportedly attracted their prey by various means, such as by killing off all plants surrounding them to gain a "monopoly" on shade and perches, as well as by growing luscious, enticing and irresistible fruit and flowers as extra bait.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: African Living Dinosaurs such as the Mokele-Mbembe have been speculated by some cryptozoologists to have been the inspiration for dragons, as popularized by French cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans in his book Les derniers dragons d'Afrique (The Last Dragons of Africa). Biblical stories of dragons, such as the one of Daniel, as well as the Mushussu have been used as evidence for these claims, with the theory being that they were transported to the Middle East from Africa by merchants or explorers.
    • The Grootslang from African folklore is an enormous monster described as a mix of an elephant and a snake that guards a cave loaded with diamonds. Sounds an awful lot like some kind of dragon, right?
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Hadza people of Tanzania have stories of giants so large, they put elephants between their belts and clothes. They also claim that their distant direct ancestors were giants and were the first people to use fire, medicine, and lived in caves, sounding strangely similar to extinct hominids such as Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Wereleopards, werehyenas, werejackals and werecrocodiles.
  • Top God:
    • Cagn king god to the San people of Southern Africa. He is also The Trickster in his pantheon.
    • Nyname the sky god is king in the mythology of the Ashanti people of Ghana.
    • Nana Buluku King and Queen of the gods in the religion of the Fon people of West Africa. There are also many lesser god monarchs, such as Sogbo who leads the thunder gods.
    • In Yoruba tradition, the Orisha, owners of heads, are often translated as gods since they are worshiped like a polytheistic pantheon but they really are not. It is just that God is too powerful and defying of description for humans to properly worship so a lot of attention is given to Orishas, who take on forms that can be viewed by people directly, with hope they will act as middlemen to God for humans. Undergods is a more correct term.
    • Ala, embodiment of dry land, is very much the same in the Odinani religion of the Igbo people of southern Nigeria. The supreme eternal god appointed her ruler of everything else. She will live and rule until dry land is no longer needed.
    • Roog, who is known by different names depending on which group you ask, is king god in the mythology of the Serer people of West Africa.
  • The Trickster:
    • Anansi the Spider from West African folklore (known as Aunt Nancy in the Americas). He supposedly collected every story ever for Earth from a bargain with the gods, so if you want somebody to thank for all the storytelling elements this wiki documents, you've got the spider.
    • The hare is often one in African tales. When his stories were brought over by slaves to America, he became Br'er (pronounced "bruh", for "brother") Rabbit / Compe' Lapin.
    • The tortoise often played this role alongside the hare with the two being rivals. Of course, the tortoise always came out on top. After all, where did you think The Tortoise and the Hare came from?
    • Eshu, a Yoruba (West African ethnicity) deity known for his penchant for causing strife around the world.
  • Troll: The Nigerian trickster god Edshu: In one story, he walks down the road wearing a hat that is red on one side and blue on the other. When people on one side of the road ask "Who's that going by in the red hat?", they get into fights with people on the other side who insist that the hat was blue. The god takes credit for this, saying "Spreading strife is my greatest joy."
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Various African myths and legends include shapeshifters (almost invariably Always Chaotic Evil cannibalistic witches and shamans) who take the forms of lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, crocodiles, snakes, bats, dogs, pigs, water buffalo, geese, grasscutter rats, wildcats and sharks. They use these shapes to kill and eat people, dig up graves, destroy crops, and other heinous acts.
  • War God: Igbo mythology has two war gods. Ikenga, the proud ram horned (sometimes literal two faced warrior depending on the region) warrior that represents just war for the sake of improvement (his domains were also Achievements and Time). The other is Ekwensu, lord of Chaotic War, tortoises and bargains.


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