Mwindo





In the mythology of the Nyanga people of central Africa, Mwindo was a hero with supernatural powers who had many adventures. His story is told in the epic of Mwindo.

supernatural related to forces beyond the normal world; magical or miraculous

epic long poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style

Mwindo was the son of Shemwindo, a powerful chief who had seven wives. Shemwindo decreed that his wives should bear only female children and that he would kill any male child they produced. Six of his wives gave birth to females. Then his favorite wife, Nyamwindo, had a boy The child emerged from her middle finger and could walk and talk immediately. She named him Mwindo. When Shemwindo found out about his boy, he tried to kill him with his spear. But Mwindo used magic to protect himself

*See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

and to throw off his father's aim. Shemwindo then buried the child alive, but Mwindo escaped. Next the father sealed his son in a drum and threw him into a river to drown. Again, Mwindo used his magic powers to travel beneath the water.

Mwindo decided to visit his aunt Iyangura. Iyangura's husband tried to stop him by setting traps. But with the help of animal spirits, Mwindo escaped the traps and met his aunt. A guard called upon Master Lightning to strike Mwindo down, but Mwindo's magic made the lightning bolts miss.

Later Mwindo led his uncles to his father's village, intending to punish Shemwindo. They killed all of the villagers and destroyed the village. Shemwindo fled to the underworld, followed by Mwindo. There Mwindo met with the ruler of the underworld, Muisa, who promised to reveal Shemwindo's hiding place if Mwindo performed some tasks for him. Mwindo did so, but twice Muisa tried to kill Mwindo, and twice Mwindo used a magic scepter to save himself. Finally, Mwindo tracked down his father. Shemwindo apologized for trying to kill Mwindo and agreed to share his kingdom with his son. Mwindo then rebuilt the village and restored all the villagers to life.

underworld land of the dead

scepter rod or wand that serves as a symbol of royal authority

Later Mwindo killed a dragon that was a friend of Master Lightning. As punishment, Mwindo was taken up to the sky, where he had to endure blazing heat from the sun and terrible cold and rain. After a year and after Mwindo promised never to kill another living thing, the spirits of the sky let him return to earth. From then on, Mwindo ruled his kingdom in peace, instructing his people to live in harmony, to avoid jealousy and hatred, to accept every child, and to be kind to the sick.

See also African Mythology ; Dragons ; Heroes .



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