MWINDO: EPIC MYTH OF AFRICA PART SEVEN

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this epic myth of the Nyanga people.

PART SEVEN

batsThe semidivine Mwindo, his aunt Iyangura and Iyangura’s handmaidens set out from the home she occupied as the Ritual Wife of the river god Mukiti. The object of their expedition was Mwindo’s attempt to overthrow his evil father Shemwindo and become the new ruler of the village of Tubondo.

The first night the travelers stayed with Mwindo’s maternal uncle, Yana the bat god. (As with so many other ruling families around the world the Nyanga aristocracy claimed to be related to the gods.) Yana had the creatures he was the lord of prepare a goat of hospitality (as opposed to the wildebeest of misgiving) as a meal for the guests.

After the meal was over and the women were sleeping the bats worked with Mwindo, outfitting him with iron shoes, an iron helmet, iron leggings, and an iron shirt to wear in battle. In Nyanga beliefs Bats were considered the metalworkers or blacksmiths of the animal kingdom. This is because of the way they live in caves and the shape of their vomit and fecal matter. No, seriously. All fourteen books that I have that cover the Mwindo epic give that as the reason. I’m not really up on bat vomit and bat feces so I’ll just have to take their word for it. 

The next morning Yana’s bat subjects insisted on accompanying Mwindo and the women on their trip to Tubondo. As night was approaching the expedition arrived within sight of that village ruled by Chief Shemwindo. The bats wanted to attack at once but Mwindo insisted on waiting until morning.

Iyangura complained to her nephew that they had no shelter and that Kiruka, the elderly goddess who drags the rainclouds behind her, had caused a light shower to begin falling. Mwindo began singing another one of his magic incantations while holding aloft his conga-sceptre (a riding-crop sized staff made of antelope tail). Soon huts appeared from nowhere to shelter them all.

There were separate huts for Iyangura and her handmaidens, separate huts for the bats while the finest hut was for Mwindo and was located in the middle of them all. When Iyangura complained that they lacked food and drink, Mwindo again took matters into his own hands.

Holding aloft his conga-sceptre he began a new song, and this new song-spell teleported food and drink from Shemwindo’s village to the camp of Mwindo and his companions. Growing cocky again, Mwindo bragged about all that he had already accomplished and about his plans to seize the chiefship from his father.

The bragging was part of Mwindo’s character development. As I mentioned in previous installments, part of the point of the Mwindo Epic was the main character eventually learning to be humble and to be a good ruler, like in the Gilgamesh Epic from Sumerian myths.  

At sunrise Mwindo awakened the bats and sent them to attack Tubondo, while he stood and observed the way his father maneuvered his soldiers. (You can’t help but laugh at how Mwindo always sings about what a badass he is, but now just says “You guys go fight those bastards. I’ll wait here.”) 

Chief Shemwindo was an effective general, however, and he led his troops into an all-out slaughter of the attacking bats. To avoid it seeming TOO callous on Mwindo’s part to just stand back and observe this massacre it’s important to remember that – as we’ve seen in previous episodes – he has the power to resurrect the dead. 

The lone bat survivor of the one-sided battle reached Mwindo and died in his arms. Iyangura told her nephew that Kahindo, the goddess of good fortune, had obviously abandoned him. Mwindo silenced her and stepped forward, saying that he would attack the village of Tubondo single-handed. +++ 

I WILL EXAMINE ADDITIONAL PARTS SOON. CHECK BACK ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR UPDATES. 

FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE: PART ONE OF MWINDO

FOR ANOTHER EPIC MYTH CLICK HERE:  https://glitternight.com/2013/03/17/iroquois-epic-myth-hodadeion/

FOR SIMILAR ARTICLES AND MORE OF THE TOP LISTS FROM  BALLADEER’S BLOG CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/top-lists/

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

4 Comments

Filed under Mythology

4 responses to “MWINDO: EPIC MYTH OF AFRICA PART SEVEN

  1. Karen

    These wedding details are excellent!

  2. Lindsey

    I am pleased with all the rich detail!

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