African Mythologies

African Goddesses and Tricksters

What are the tricksters’ characteristics and roles?

Typically, tricksters are creative, but they often challenge or undermine the creator’s work. They have enormous appetites for food, for sex, and for power. Sometimes they are culture heroes, helping humanity in the face of the Supreme Being’s power and arbitrariness. Tricksters can change shapes, often becoming animals, to achieve their questionable goals. Tricksters are essentially amoral, perhaps representing a state of consciousness that has not yet accepted the restraints of civilization. Tricksters play a major role in African mythology, perhaps because, in general, African mythology reveals a skeptical view of life and of deities, stressing the precariousness of existence, which precariousness is thus represented by the tricksters and their activities.


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