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Abradi and the Deadly Rabbit

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(Ama, Nyimang/Sudan)

Abradi is the high god, the creator, maker of all things. All-powerful, he is above all spirits: he has given them their power, but is not usually held responsible for their acts. He is in the sky, has never been seen by man, although he is considered to be a presence on the earth. He is treated with reverence, and is invoked in times of drought, epidemic, famine, or family crisis.

In the beginning, the sky was so near the earth that it tended to be suffocating, pressing down on people. When women stirred millet porridge, they had difficulty with the stirring rods because they brushed against the sky. The sky was so low that the women had to bend closely over the pots, and their hands were burned as a result. Finally, one of the women, thoroughly annoyed and exasperated, raised her stirring rod and pierced the sky with the upper end of it. Now the sky, the clouds, the spirits were so enraged that they moved away from the earth.

Long ago, people and animals did not die. But men and rabbits did not get along together. In fact, they despised one another, to the point of attempting to destroy each other. One day, a rabbit took roots from a tree and gave them to a man. The man, unsuspecting, ate the roots, not realizing that they were poisonous. He fell asleep and slept for two days. Then he died. And so it is that death came into the world.

In another myth about death, long ago, when a man died, God said that he was only sleeping, that there was no death. He told the people to place his body to the side for one night, and he would be alive again the following morning. But one time a man died, and a rabbit got to the people before God did. He told them that they should bury the man; if they did not bury him, God in his anger would destroy everyone. The people did as the rabbit advised, and buried him. Later, God asked about the man, and the people told him that they had buried him. God, annoyed that the people had heeded the words of the rabbit, said that this is the way it would be from then on: humans, when they died, would not again come to life.

Subjects: Religion

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