Tumbuka mythology

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The Tumbuka are an ethnic group living in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. In Tumbuka mythology, Chiuta is the chief deity; he is all-powerful, omniscient and self-created. Chiuta literally means Great Bow and is symbolised in the sky by the rainbow. He is also a god of rain and fertility.

Tumbuka, like most African languages, has many myths that constitute part of the Tumbuka cultural heritage. These myths, told around fires at night, often to the accompaniment of drumming and choral responses, aim to teach children moral behavior and to entertain.

Most of these myths have been weakened by contact with western mores, but many have stood the test of changing times; these vidokoni (fictitious stories) have a moral behind them.

There are three animals mentioned more than any others in Tumbuka mythology and these are fulu (tortoise), kalulu (hare) and chimbwi (hyena). Fulu is considered the wisest animal, chimbwe the villain and kalulu the clever trickster and manipulator who can only be defeated by fulu. The myth of Kalulu and Chimbwi are also common in most southern African ethnic groups especially in Zambia and Malawi.