The Fang people, an ethnic group inhabiting Equatorial Guinea, northern Gabon, and southern Cameroon, have a rich cultural heritage and a unique creation story that explains the origins of their world. Rooted in their beliefs and passed down through generations, the Fang creation story provides insights into their worldview, values, and the significance of their ancestral figures. At the heart of this narrative lies the supreme being, Nzame, and the story of Fam, the first man, whose arrogance led to the reshaping of the world.
According to Fang mythology, in the beginning, there was only Nzame, the supreme being, who encompassed three distinct aspects: Nzame, Mebere, and Nkwa. Nzame, the creative force, embarked on the task of forming the universe and breathing life into the earth. Satisfied with his creation, Nzame invited Mebere and Nkwa to behold his work. They collectively decided to fashion a chief for the earth, someone who would be an embodiment of their divine attributes.
Collaboratively, Nzame, Mebere, and Nkwa molded a creature in their image and named him Fam, which means “Power.” Fam inherited strength from Nzame, leadership qualities from Mebere, and beauty from Nkwa. Their intention was for Fam to govern the world they had created while they returned to their celestial abode.
Initially, Fam governed with wisdom and benevolence, and even the first animal chiefs—the elephant, the leopard, and the monkey—respected his authority. However, Fam’s pride grew, and he began to mistreat the animals, including the revered chiefs. He lost sight of his responsibilities and chose not to worship Nzame, leading to his downfall.
In response to Fam’s arrogance, Nzame unleashed thunder and lightning upon the world, causing widespread destruction. Only Fam, who had been promised immortality by Nzame, remained. Though Fam disappeared from the visible world, his existence persisted, capable of causing harm to others. This divine punishment illustrates the consequences of hubris and the importance of humility and reverence toward Nzame.
After the devastation, Nzame, Mebere, and Nkwa observed the desolate earth. With their divine powers, they revitalized it by adding a fresh layer of soil. Trees sprouted and disseminated their seeds, resulting in new flora, while leaves falling into water transformed into fish, and those on the earth became animals. Thus, the earth was reborn.
Determined to create a new order, Nzame fashioned a new version of Fam. However, this time, the new man, known as Sekume, was mortal. Sekume, the ancestral figure of the Fang people, then crafted the first woman named Mbongwe from a tree. Together, Sekume and Mbongwe flourished and gave birth to numerous children, becoming the progenitors of the Fang lineage.
Despite the renewed world, the Fang people remain wary of Fam’s enduring influence. Fam occasionally emerges from his dwelling beneath the earth, where Nzame had banished him, to perpetrate mischief and bring trouble to the people. This belief instills caution among the Fang, teaching them to be mindful of their words and actions, lest Fam listens and brings adversity upon them.