The Fulani creation myth from northern Nigeria. Doondari is the creator. The five elements in the first half of the poem (stone, iron, fire, water and air) are carefully balanced against the five stages of man’s suffering and triumph in the second half. As with all creation myths, it is intended to explain the world as we experience it.
At the beginning there was a huge drop of milk.
Then Doondari came and he created the stone:
Then the stone created iron,
And iron created fire,
And fire created water,
And water created air.
Then Doondari descended the second time,
And he took the five elements
And he shaped them into man.
But man was proud:
Then Doondari created blindness, and blindness defeated man.
But when blindness became too proud,
Doondari created sleep, and sleep defeated blindness;
But when sleep became too proud,
Doondari created worry, and worry defeated sleep;
But when worry became too proud,
Doondari created death, and death defeated worry;
But then death became too proud:
Doondari descended for the third time,
And he came as Gueno, the eternal one:
And Gueno defeated death.
from Black Orpheus 19 (March 1966)
trans. H. Owuor