Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/55

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BUSHONGO MYTHOLOGY.

BY E. TORDAY.

(Read at Meeting, November 16th, 1910.)

The Bushongo are a people better known under the name of Bakuba, a sobriquet given to them by their neighbours and meaning "the people of the lightning"; strictly speaking they ought to be called Bashi Bushongo, i.e. "the sons of Bushongo." The population of the kingdom of Bushongo cannot much exceed one hundred thousand, and is composed of tribes originating from various distant parts of Africa. The backbone of the kingdom is formed by the Bambala, who originate from the Soudan, having immigrated from the neighbourhood of lake Tchad; the western part of the population comes from the Upper Congo; and in the south we find a branch of the Baluba, whose original home was somewhere near Lake Nyassa. This diversity of origin accounts for a corresponding diversity of tenets, although to a certain extent there has been an interchange of customs and beliefs.

The version of their mythology given by the Moaridi, the Bambala elder who is the official historian of the kingdom, is as follows:—In the beginning the world consisted only of water, and there was absolute darkness. In this chaos Bumba, the Chembe (God), reigned alone; he was like a man in form, but of enormous size, and white in colour. One day he vomited the sun, the moon, and the stars, and under the influence of the sun the water began