African Mythologies

African Goddesses and Tricksters

Are there important African goddesses?

Goddesses play a major role in many African mythologies. Several are Supreme Being creators, such as Woyengi of the Ijaw, Mawu of Dahomey, and Njambi of the Bankongo people in the Congo. Earth mothers and fertility goddesses are ubiquitous. Examples are Mboze of the Woyo people of southwestern Congo, Oddudua or Olokun of the Yoruba, and Ala of the Ibo, who, as the personification of earth itself, carries the dead ancestors in her womb, which is the Underworld. Asase is the Ashanti goddess of earth. For the Krachi of Togo and Ghana, Asase Ya is the earth on which Wulbari, the sky, lay, leaving crowded space for their offspring until Wulbari decided to rise up above her. The Zulu goddess Nokhubulwane, the inventor of beer, permeates all aspects of nature. An unusual goddess is the Yoruba Oya. Perhaps more a concept that a personality, she can be a river, an animal, an aspect of human behavior. She represents justice, but, like the Indian Kali, is a goddess of violence and death.


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