The Traditional Creation Story of the Mandé Peoples of Western Africa

Mangala made two eleusine seeds of different kinds. Then he made three more pairs of seeds, and each pair became the four elements, the four directions, as corners in the framework of the world’s creation.

The Traditional Creation Story of the Mandé Peoples of Southern Mali

Mande, also called Mali or Mandingo, are a group of peoples of western Africa, who are speakers of Mande languages. The Mande are located primarily on the savanna plateau of the western Sudan, although small groups of Mande origin, are found in every country in mainland West Africa, as in the tropical rain forests of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Côte d’Ivoire. Some of the most well-known Mande groups are the Bambara, Malinke, and Soninke.

Mandé people inhabit various environments, from coastal rainforests to the sparse Sahel. They have a wide range of cuisines, cultures, and beliefs, and are organized mainly by their language group and follow a caste system.

While Many of the Mandé groups in the westernmost part of West Africa have been predominantly Muslim since as early as the 13th century. There are some others who still retain their traditional beliefs.

The Traditional Creation Story of the Mandé Peoples

The story begins when Mangala, the creator god, tries making a balaza seed but it failed. Then he made two eleusine seeds of different kinds, which the Keita clan in Mali call “the egg of the world in two twin parts which were to procreate“. Then Mangala made three more pairs of seeds, and each pair became the four elements, the four directions, as corners in the framework of the world’s creation. This he folded into a hibiscus seed. The twin pairs of seeds, which are seen as having opposite sex, are referred to as the egg or placenta of the world. This egg held an additional two pairs of twins, who were the prototype of humans.

Among them was Pemba who wished to dominate and so he left the egg early, ripping a piece of his placenta. Pemba fell through space and his torn placenta became the earth. Because he left the egg prematurely the earth formed from this piece was dry and barren and of no use to Pemba. So Pemba tried to return to the egg, to rejoin his twin and rest in the remainder of his placenta. But it was not to be found-Mangala had changed the remaining placenta into the sun. So Pemba stole male seeds from Mangala’s clavicle, and took them to the barren earth and planted them there. Only one of them could germinate in the dry earth, a male eleusine seed which grew in the blood of the placenta. But because Pemba had stolen the seed and it germinated in Pemba’s own placenta, the earth became impure and the eleusine seed turned red.

The Traditional Creation Story of the Mandé Peoples of Western Africa

Faro, the other twin, who had assumed the form of twin fish, was sacrificed to atone for Pemba and purify the earth. Faro was cut into sixty pieces which fell to the earth where they became trees. Mangala restored Faro to life now in the form of a human, and sent him down to earth in an ark made from his placenta. The name of Mandé was given to the region where the ark stopped. With him came four pairs of male and four pairs of female twins who became the original ancestors of mankind, all made from Faro’s placenta.

The ark also held all the animals and plants, which also carried the male and female life force. Sourakata followed with the first sacred drum made of the sacrificed Faro’s skull which he played to bring rain. When the rain did not come, the ancestral smith came to earth and with his hammer, he struck a rock and then the rain came.

Faro created all the world that mankind has come to know from the descendants of Mangala’s original egg seeds. He caused the land to flood to wash away the impure seed of his brother, Pemba. From this flood, only the good were saved, sheltered by Faro’s ark.


Mr Madu
Mr Madu
Mr Madu is a freelance writer, a lover of Africa and a frequent hiker who loves long, vigorous walks, usually on hills or mountains.


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