The hunter-gatherer cultures of the various Khoe, Tuu, or Kx’a-speaking peoples collectively known as the San are among the oldest on Earth. This San prayer, recorded in the mid-nineteenth century, reflects on how the moon appears to die and then be reborn over the course of it’s lunar cycle.
Young moon, take my face up yonder,
Give back to me your face up there, take away this pain.
Give me your face, small moon,
That dies, and when you die
Living, you return again.
When we see you, and no more we see you,
You lie down to sleep and come again.
Give me that I shall be like you,
This joy that you possess forever
Yonder with you, that living you come back
When we did not see you there.
Once when your child the hare (1)
Cried to you, his mother, not to let him die,
You told us too that when we died we should return again.
from Oral Poetry from Africa (1984),
Compiled by Jack Mapanje and Landeg White,
- The marks on the face of the moon are seen as an image of a hare and his mother.