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Home  |  Animals   |  African Animals

African animals in African tradition amuse and entertain, provide explanations, and comment on human weaknesses and values. Animal trickster heroes are common. All the animals that find a place in these stories are animals that tend to indigenous to the African continent and also have a modern day relative to which they can trace back their roots. Chief among these are the tortoise, spider, hare, fox and jackal.

African animals in mythology also tend to have a relationship to various gods. Rams, for example, were sacred to Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning, who is commonly visualised as wearing ram’s horns. A chameleon named Agemo was the servant of the Yoruba Supreme Being, Olorun. Khonvoum, the Supreme God of the Pygmies, communicated with humans through either a chameleon or an elephant named Gor,

Animals served as messengers to humanity from the Supreme Being especially in bringing the message of birth and death to human beings or mortals. The dog, duck, frog, hare, mole, chameleon and toad were frequently used in this regard. In some tales the goat, hyena, and rabbit were associated with the origin of death in various ways.

Animals are also ritual guardians of sacred places. They are often seen as signs of communication from the spirit world, and their appearance in a place may mark it as sacred. snakes, particularly the python, play prominent roles in African mythology.

The origin of animals is part of the creation accounts of most African cultures. In many traditions, animals, plants, and humans were made by the Creator after the Earth was first formed. The gift of specific animals is described in various myths. The Maasai of Kenya, for example, were given cattle by the culture hero Naiteru-kop (or in some versions, the Supreme God En-kai), who lowered them down from the sky. In another Maasai myth, livestock emerged from a termite hole in the ground. For other myths involving animals, see bat, crocodile, leopard, and lion

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.