The afterworld is the place where souls went after death. In many African traditions—as in cultures throughout the world—the home of the dead was the underworld, a subterranean world ruled over by a deity. Commonly, the underworld was a reflection of the world of the living. In their subterranean village, dead souls carried out their custoMary daily activities—cultivating the fields, clearing brush, preparing food. In some traditions, dead souls went to the heavens to live with the Supreme Being. (See Djakomba; ||Gamab; ·Gao!na; Xu.) According to Bambara tradition, when the first humans died, they did not actually die. They moved closer to the Creator and became ancestors. Usually the Supreme Being brought the souls of the dead to the heavens. ·Gao!na, the !Kung Creator, took the spirits of the dead to live with him in the sky. The spirits of the dead lived on the lower floor of ·Gao!na’s house; ·Gao!na lived on the upper floor with his wife and children. Xu, the Heikum Creator, lived in the sky on the first floor of a two-storied house. The second story was occupied by the souls of the dead. The dead sometimes made their own way to the afterworld. The Edo people of Nigeria bury the dead with their feet pointing west, toward the ocean. The dead are believed to set off in canoes across the sea to reach the spirit world in the dome of the sky. In still other cultures, when the dead were buried, their bodies were believed to become earth; the dead symbolically became united with the earth god or goddess. (See Ala; Ama.) For the Oromo of Ethiopia, life after death was lived as a shadowlike existence in Ekera, the afterworld.

Taken from African Mythology A to Z – Library Binding – May 1, 2010- Second Edition – Written by Patricia Ann Lynch (Author), Jeremy Roberts Dr (Editor) – Copyright © 2004, 2010 by Patricia Ann Lynch