There are several different versions of the Bambara creation account, each of which offers conflicting descriptions of the relationships among the principal figures. According to legend, in the beginning there was nothing but the emptiness of the void. The universe began from a single point of sound—the sound Yo. Everything—including human consciousness—came from this root sound. Yo—the primeval creative spirit—created the structure of the heavens, the Earth, and all living and nonliving things. Yo brought into being the creator figures Faro, Pemba, and Teliko. Faro (who was male in this account) was a water spirit. He created seven heavens corresponding to the seven parts of the Earth and fertilized them with rain. Teliko was the spirit of the air. He created a set of twins who were the ancestors of the first humans. Pemba created the Earth. He then mixed together his saliva and dust and created a woman, Musokoroni, who became his wife. Together they created all the animals and plants. Jealous of Pemba’s growing power, Musokoroni planted him in the ground. She then left and wandered the world, creating disorder and unhappiness and bringing illness and death to humanity. (See also death, origin of.) Before Musokoroni died herself, though, she taught humans the skill of agriculture. Faro uprooted Pemba and took over responsibility for the harmony of life on Earth.
In another account, in the beginning the Supreme God, Bemba, created a set of twins. They were a male creator figure, Pemba, and his sister, Musokoroni, the goddess of disorder. Musokoroni rebelled against Bemba, and she and Pemba left the heavens. They went down to Earth on an umbilical cord. (See also link between heaven and earth.) Then they severed the cord, which broke their connection to the heavens. On Earth the twins behaved recklessly, which drew Bemba’s wrath. Despite the god’s anger, the twins continued their wild ways. Musokoroni had sexual relations with her twin, Earth itself, trees, the wind, and the Sun’s rays. Bemba was determined to end this activity. He created a second set of twins—a female creator figure named Faro and her brother, Koni—and sent them to Earth in a golden canoe.
Bemba intended the two sets of twins to join together to create humans and animals to populate Earth. However, Musokoroni was jealous of Faro, and she tried to turn humans against her. She lured human men to herself, had sexual relations with them, and then destroyed them. As punishment, Bemba sent a flood to cleanse Earth. Musokoroni died in the flood. Faro paddled around in her golden canoe rescuing humans and animals so that they could repopulate Earth.
In a different account in which Musokoroni is not mentioned, the two creator figures Faro and Pemba emerged from the forces of creation. Faro created the sky, and Pemba created the Earth. Faro had a male twin, Koni, who was also her husband. The Supreme God sent a flood to cleanse the Earth. Faro gathered humans into an ark that drifted for seven days. After Faro and the humans emerged from the ark, they built the first village and planted seeds. After the first rain fell, those seeds grew into all of the plants and trees on Earth. Then Faro created animals and ordered night and day, the seasons, and life itself.
For another creation account involving Pemba and Faro, see Mande creation account.