Xhosa (South Africa)

The Supreme God and Creator of humanity. The original name of the Xhosa Creator was Mdali. Over time, he was called by other names—Qamatha and Thixo (or Tiko). This change probably came about after the Xhosa migrated into the lands of the Khoikhoi and San, and the myths and legends of these people merged. This accounts for inconsistencies in Xhosa accounts of the creation of humans.

According to one myth, Mdali emerged from a cave in the east called Daliwe, which means “creator.” In one version of the Xhosa creation account, humans and animals also emerged from this cave (called Uhlanga in this version). In the creation account associated with Mdali, he created the first humans by splitting a reed, out of which a man and two women emerged.

A Xhosa tale about the origin of death is an example of the “failed message” theme. Mdali sent a chameleon to humans with the message that they would live forever. After the chameleon left, however, Mdali had second thoughts. He sent a salamander— an animal known for its speed—to overtake the chameleon and give humans the message that they would die. The salamander arrived first, which is why humans die.

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