This summer, I’m taking a mythology class. As an assignment, I’m supposed to create my own myth. And so here is a myth which has been passed down to me which I thought I would share:
A long time ago, before the age of fire or man, there lived the deity, Amakhozi, on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Amakhozi was a twin-god, half lion, half tiger, possessing heads, paws, and fur of both, though having the memory of an elephant and the trickery of a monkey. None know who or what had molded Amakhozi, for if you asked him yourself, he would claim to be the first of the gods of the jungle, though the water buffalo know that the heifer-goddess Umama without any doubt had come before him.
Amakhozi though he had all he needed on top his mountain—plentiful water from the most ancient of falls, the richest of fruits, and the best trees so to nap, he was missing what he could see and envied from the animals below him—a companion. True, he did have himself to debate if the world was held up by a gorilla or by elephants, and to discuss all that he observed; however, it was just not the same, for Amakhozi would know what his other head would say before he said it.
And so after a thousand years of pondering and enduring this loneliness, Amakhozi finally decided, for he was not the fastest of thinkers, finally decided that he would leave his mountaintop in search for a friend.
“But how shall we get down?” asked the lion head. For the mountain was quite tall, too tall for the cat to jump. Though he would land on his feet, he would also probably die from the impact, and it wouldn’t due for a god to die.
“We need wings,” the tiger replied.
“Agreed, but how shall we obtain them?” the lion asked.
And so the two heads began to think and ponder, pondered and thought, thinking while pondering how to ponder in thought so to think of their pondering for some pondered thought. It was when they were thinking and pondering that Amakhozi noticed below a bird, a macaw in fact, eating fruit from a tree below.
“A bird!” exclaimed the tiger.
“A bird with wings,” elaborated the lion.
“A bird with wings which we can steal.”
“But how? For the macaw is awfully far down below, and we have no wings to fly down below to steal its wings, so that we may fly below so to make a friend.”
“. . . What if . . . instead of having wings to get wings, we instead lure the bird up here so that we may take them?”
“A most good thought I’ve just had,” proclaimed the lion. “I wonder what my next should be?”
“Hmmm, perhaps it should be to lure that bird with some fruit, mbhumbhulu.”
“I surprise even me by my wisdom.” The tiger just rolled his eyes. Amakhozi then collected a bounty of fruit and brought them to the edge of his mountain.
“Sawubona,” he greeted in shout to the bird below. “May I interest you in some fruit?” he asked holding up a mango.
“Squawk, no round,” answered the parrot. “Eat not round.”
“Oh, well what about this is one?” Amakhozi asked about a melon.
“Squawk, too big. Too big.”
“And this one?” asked Amakhozi, holding up a banana.
“Squawk, not yellow. Not yellow, squawk.”
Now you may wonder, ‘why wasn’t the banana yellow?’ For you see, it was in this age when the peels of bananas had a blue color to them, for that was how they were created by Emhlabeni, Mother Earth; however, that changed because of the magic of Amakhozi. He was growing frustrated from the parrot’s particular taste. And so, in order to try and please the bird he mumbled, “Izithelo aphuzi manje,” the magic of his words dyeing the peel of the banana from blue to yellow. “What about this?” he asked.
“Squawk, good food. Good food.” Lured by the banana, the parrot flew up the mountain to receive the treat from the god. But, as he perched on Amakhozi’s shoulder, the cat seized the bird and tore off its wings, binding them to his spine with some thread from his loin cloth.
“Hamba kahle,” said Amakhozi before he departed in a flash of feathers.
The poor parrot released a cry, both from the pain of his missing wings and the heartache of being tricked. Ilanga, Father Sun, heard the parrot’s cry and decided to help the poor bird, for he loved to hear its beautiful songs as he woke from his nightfall nap each day. And so he used his light to illuminate a crocodile in a river below for Amakhozi to spot.
Now, Amakhozi had seen an elephant, but thought that it was too fat to be his friend. He had seen a panther, but thought it was too much like him to be his friend. He had seen a baboon, and didn’t think it would be a good friend. But when he saw the crocodile, lit up by Ilanga’s rays, and saw its smiling face, he thought it would make a perfect friend. And so he landed near the bank, “Sawubona!” he greeted. “Would you like to be my friend?”
The sly crocodile answered, “What did you say? I couldn’t hear you. Come closer.”
So Amakhozi moved forward, his toes touching the water. “I said, ‘Sawubona! Would you like to be my friend?’”
“I still can’t hear you,” said the reptile. “Please, come closer.”
And so Amakhozi waded out. And as he repeated, “‘Sawubo . . .” he was gobbled up by the jungle dragon.
Ilanga smiled, before he retrieved the parrot’s wings from the crocodile’s burp and gave them to his feathered friend. “Squawk, ngiyabonga” thanked the parrot, before it flew from Mount Kilimanjaro, with a yellow banana within its beak.