Naiteru-kop (NeiTeroGob, NeiTerokop)
maasai (Kenya) Depending on the myth, Naiterukop was the first man or a culture hero (or minor god) who was responsible for the gift of cattle to the Maasai. In some tales, Naiteru-kop was a mediator between the Supreme God, En-kai, and humans. According to one myth, in the beginning En-kai created Naiteru-kop and a woman to be his partner. En-kai sent the couple to Earth with 100 head each of cattle, goats, and sheep. The couple found that Earth was rich in natural resources—rivers, lakes, forests, plains, minerals, and wildlife. En-kai gave them control over these resources on the condition that they be good custodians and hold all of creation in trust for coming generations. Naiteru-kop and his wife had three sons and three daughters. The first son was given a bow and arrows and became a hunter. The second son was given a hoe and became a farmer. The third son was given a rod with which to herd his father’s cattle when he inherited them. Naiteru-kop’s third son was believed to be the immediate ancestor of the Maasai people. The myth explains the Maasai’s reverence for nature and their spiritual attachment to livestock—particularly cattle—as a source of food and wealth. The following story explains how the Maasai got their cattle. In the beginning, only the Dorobo people had cattle. One day, a Maasai named Leeyo heard the god Naiteru-kop tell a Dorobo to meet him at a certain place the next morning. Le-eyo made a point of reaching that place before the Dorobo. Naiteru-kop asked Le-eyo where the Dorobo was, and Le-eyo responded that he did not know. Then Naiteru-kop started to lower cattle down from the sky until there were many of them on Earth. The cattle wandered off and mixed with the cattle of the Dorobo. Because the Dorobo could not tell which cattle were theirs, they lost all of them to the Maasai. This is how the Maasai came to own all the cattle and the Dorobo had to hunt wild game for
their food. (In another version of this legend, En-kai is credited with the gift of cattle to the Maasai.) In a myth about the origin of death, Naiterukop told Le-eyo that if a child died, Le-eyo was to say, “Man, die and come back again; Moon, die and remain away.” However, because the next child that died was not one of Le-Eyo’s, he said, “Man, die and remain away; Moon, die and return.” When one of his own children died, Le-eyo spoke the original message that Naiteru-kop had given him. However, Naiteru-kop told him that it was too late. Because Le-eyo had spoken the wrong words when the first child died, death was now permanent for humans, and the Moon would always be reborn.

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