A Universe from Vomit: The Creation Story of Mbombo
All cultures and religions have their creation stories - some seem more familiar and others perhaps seem farfetched. One creation story is of the god Mbombo who vomited the world, humans, and the universe into existence. Most creation stories start with one all-powerful individual that is responsible for creating all things in the universe, but few versions begin with indigestion!
The God Mbombo
In the beginning, there was Mbombo, the creator, along with water and darkness. Mbombo, or Bumba as he is called in the Boshongo tradition, is said to be a giant white-coloured figure who had been ill for millions of years. The reason for his illness was his incurable loneliness. This creation myth comes from the Kuba people of Central Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mbombo creating the universe. (kitkatalamo/ Deviantart)
The Vomit that Created the Universe
Mbombo vomited and produced the sun creating light and day. This caused the water to dry which created land. Mbombo threw up a second time and created the moon and the stars which divided day and night. Again, he threw up and out came nine animals: a leopard (Koy Bumba), crested eagle (Ponga Bumba), crocodile (Ganda Bumba), fish (Yo Bumba), tortoise (Kono Bumba), heron (Nyanyi Bumba), goat (Budi), a scarab, and a black cat-like animal that would eventually become lightning (Tsetse Bumba). The first heron created more birds, the crocodile created more reptiles and serpents, and the goat made horned beasts. The fish created other fish and the beetle created all manner of insects. An iguana, produced by the crocodile, made creatures without horns. Along with the animals, diced carrots were produced (one imagines) and eventually humans.
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Mbombo or Bumba, creation of the universe myth. Source: www.earlholloway.com
A Continued Legacy
Mbombo had three sons who finished the world once most the animals were created. The first son, Nyonye Ngana, tried to make white ants by vomiting them into existence but died soon after. In his honor, the ants borrowed deep underground looking for dark soil to bury him in. They found it and brought the soil to the surface to transform the barren deserts into what is now the earth’s surface. Chonganda, the second son, created a plant that gave life to all other trees and plants. The third son, Chedi Bumba, created the final bird, the kite.
Tsetse Bumba became so troublesome that Mbombo had to chase her away from the land and into the sky where she became lightning. However, she continued to strike the earth in her frustration. Mbombo showed humans how to create fire from the trees, telling them that all trees contained the fire within them. When everything on earth had been created Mbombo retreated to the heavens and gave all his creations over to humans to govern.
He also left the first man (Loko Yima) to serve as “god on earth”. The woman of the waters, Nchienge, lived in the East and her son, Woto, became the first king of the Kuba people. Woto, first king of the Bushango (Bakuba) moved to the West with his children, away from his mother. There they dyed their skins black and changed their language by laying medicine on their tongues.
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The Kuba People
The Kuba Kingdom was a pre-colonial kingdom in Central Africa, it flourished between the 17 th and 19 th centuries in the south-east of the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. The kingdom reached its apex in the mid-19 th century and Europeans first entered the area in 1884. The current reigning monarch, Kot-a-Mbweeky III, has been on the throne since 1969.
Along with Mbombo, the Kuba believed in a supernatural being named Woot, who named all the animals produced by Mbombo as well as everything else on earth. Woot was the first human created by Mbombo and the Kuba are sometimes known as “the Children of Woot”.
Top image: Mbombo vomiting various elements of the universe Source: Pai Cherng
Allen, P and C Sanders. 2013. Bumba: African Creator God. Available at: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/african-mythology.php?deity=BUMBA
Knappert, J. 1977. Bantu Myths and Other Tales. Brill Archive.
Oxford Reference. Bumba Vomits Up the Universe. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095535192
Vansina, J. 1978. The Children of Woot: A history of the Kuba peoples. University of Wisconsin.