Abassi (Abasi) Anang, Efik (Nigeria)
The Supreme God and Creator, who lived in the sky. Like many other African gods, Abassi had a dual nature and was effectively two gods: Abassi Onyong, “the god above,” and Abassi Isong, “the god below.” According to the Efik, humans could communicate with the Supreme God through Abassi Isong. The Anang said that Ikpa Ison, a fertility goddess and earth spirit, kept Abassi in touch with earthly activities by means of a vulture. (See also birds.) Spirits played important roles in Anang and Efik religion and mythology. These spirits included spirits of ancestors, guardian spirits, and evil beings. Fifty-four spirits called nnem had significant religious, social, political, and economic functions. They brought sacrifices to Abassi so that he could decide how to reward the humans who had made the sacrifices. Abassi created the world and the first man and woman. Because Abassi did not want anyone to compete with him, he decided that the people he had created could not be allowed to live on Earth. His wife, Atai, disagreed with him. She insisted that Abassi allow the couple to settle on Earth. Abassi finally permitted them to do so but with two conditions: They could neither grow their own food nor have children. To make it unnecessary for the couple to grow crops or hunt, Abassi rang a bell to summon them to the sky, where they ate all their meals with him. The woman, however, began to till the soil and produce food. Her husband agreed that the food she grew was better than the food Abassi gave them, so he joined her in the fields. The couple stopped having meals with Abassi. In time, they also began to have children. Abassi told Atai that he had been right about not letting humans live on Earth; they had forgotten him. Atai reassured him that humans would never be his equal. To keep people in their place, she sent death into the world. (See also death, origin of.) Death killed the human couple and caused disagreements among their children.