I'm very interested in Traditions and folklore, particularly ancient tribal traditions and believes. It always amazes me that in days gone by, humans were so much more wise than today. They really respected and lived in tune with nature. One line which ran through all the centuries but stopped short some time ago was the fact that we are dependent upon the Earth and Nature, not the other way round.
I'm a great fan of Credo Mutwa and he brings the wisdom of African culture across to well. Herewith an extract.
Birds: Beautiful Fertilisers of EarthLink
Our people, throughout Africa, believed many strange things regarding birds. First of
all, our general name for a bird in Zulu is ingonyi, while in Sesotho and Tswana it
is ngonyani. These are beautiful, strange and mystical African words, which mean
‘fat’ and ‘fattening’.
Now… what has a bird to do with being fat ? Our people believed that, like the
animal herds that used to criss-cross the face of Africa, birds were bringers of
fertility. We believed that the great bird migrations that used to come into our
skies at certain times of the year brought fertility to or ‘fattened’ the land. For this
reason, a bird, any bird, is called the fertiliser or the fattener… ingonyi.
Another belief regarding birds is that they are the souls of human beings who have
reached a high state of perfection. When you have been reincarnated seven times on
Earth, as either a human being or an animal, you are raised by the Gods to the state
of a bird, the freest creature in the world; a creature that is a friend to the air,
friend to the land and friend to the water. This is the ingonyi - the freest of the free,
the fattener, the fertiliser.
Our people protected birds with very, very strict laws. The mosu tree (umbrella
thorn, or Acacia tortilis) is a large acacia tree, which has bean-like pods as fruits. The
Batswana, ba-Pedi and Northern-speaking people never cut these trees down.
Why? These are the trees upon whose branches migratory birds rest, when they
come into southern Africa at certain times of the year.
Our people used to punish with a savage fine anyone who was caught hunting
more birds than was needed for food. There were exact guidelines laid down to
prevent the exploitation of birds and other animals, for example you were not
allowed to hunt more than two guineafowl a day and you were not allowed to hunt
every day. Each guineafowl you brought down had to last a number of days, which is
why guineafowl meat was dried. The most terrible sin that our people knew
regarding birds was for a man, woman or child to break the eggs of a bird. It is said
that should you commit that sin, you will bring a curse of seven years upon, not only
yourself, but also your family.
When we undergo the deepest initiation into the mysteries of our people, when
we become not only sangomas, but also sanusis (who are higher than sangomas),
we often are asked questions that are actually riddles. The successful answering of
these riddles tells you whether one is a true sanusi or simply a fake. If someone
claims to be a sanusi, I will ask him or her, “Please tell me, fellow sanusi, who is the
beautiful woman who is the mother of a tree ?” Now, if the person is not a true
sanusi, he will not know the answer. But the answer is, “the bird is the mother of the
You find a saying all over Africa, in various languages, one that was stressed upon
our people again and again: if you kill a tree, you are killing a bird. In Setswana
Please share your knowledge of similar tales from all over the world with us? Maybe if we can, in a small way, live by the rules traditional people lived, we can in small way change the "rules" modern man is living by.