Nestled deep within the lush and enchanting Ituri Rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Efé people, with their unique lifestyle as part-time hunter-gatherers, have woven a captivating creation myth that explains the origins of humanity and the consequences of disobedience. As Pygmies, they are recognized as one of the shortest ethnic groups in the world, but their beliefs and traditions stand tall, firmly rooted in their connection to nature and the divine.
According to the Efe creation myth, the universe was brought into existence by the divine hand of God. He fashioned the world with celestial aid, but his greatest creation was yet to come – the first human being. Using his skilled hands, God molded Baatsi from the rich, fertile clay of the earth with the help of the moon. After fashioning his form, God breathed life into him, covering his body with skin and filling him with blood. Alongside Baatsi, God created a woman as his companion, instructing them to multiply and populate the world. However, God set one rule – they must never eat from the Tahu Tree.
The couple followed this rule faithfully for generations. When someone grew old, they would depart to heaven, making way for the new generations. This cycle continued until a pregnant woman developed a craving for the forbidden Tahu fruit. Despite the rule, she asked her husband to get it for her. At first, he refused, aware of the consequences, but her persistent pleas weakened his resolve. He sneaked into the forest at night, plucked a fruit from the tree, and hid the peel.
Unknown to the husband, the moon, a silent witness to all events, had observed his actions. Unable to bear the weight of this secret, the moon revealed the husband’s transgression to God, disclosing the betrayal of trust and the breaking of the sacred rule. Upon hearing this, God’s divine wrath was ignited, and he swiftly decided to teach the couple a harsh lesson.
God, angered by their betrayal, decided to punish the couple with death. From that moment, mortality became a part of their existence, and they had to face the loss of loved ones and confront the reality of death.