Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Creation Stories :: African Creation Tales Essays

Creation Stories Hegemonic myths are integral to understanding not only where a culture came from but also where it is going. The norms, ethics, and mores of a society are imbedded in its oral and written tradition so that it can subtly be relayed from generation to generation. The myths themselves are not consciously constructed with this intention. Rather the messages are subtextual – hidden in the creative story lines and characters. Since they were such good teaching tools, every culture has some kind of creation story to relay its early beginnings and important lessons. Although each society has its own version there are similarities and differences among the different cultures. For example, within West Africa there are comparable and contrasting creation stories, and then between West Africa and Egypt there are additional points of comparison. There are a variety of categories upon which the different creation stories correspond that it is difficult to find an overall theme. However, it can be said that each culture truly believed that its society was the center of the universe and its story was unequivocally right. I cannot help but be reminded of a scene from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I. When Misses Anna shows the emperor’s children the map of the world, they are astounded that Siam is so small and not the center of the world. Additionally, they do not believe the world rotates on an axis. Rather, it is carried on the back of a giant turtle. Although it may seem rather comical, this is another creation story that, like those from West Africa and Egypt, affirms that the society holds their cultural myths as fact. In addition to the ethnocentric view that each story purveys, there is an inherent need to explain the unknown. This was probably their intended purpose, in addition to providing entertainment. The stories were necessary for people to understand the world around them and their place in it. The elements, the origin of man and his vices and natural occurrences, such as the cycles of the sun and moon, are topics that each myth addresses. It is interesting to note the circumstances under which humans were created. In both the Egyptian and West African Mande myths, man upset the equilibrium that existed between him and the Gods.

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