In the beginning, there was a very big tree.
All the people and all the animals came out from the tree like from a womb.
It was dark all around, everywhere.
Dark like midnight.
Then a man lit a fire. The flames blazed up in the darkness.
Terrified, the animals scattered. They fled into the darkness.
Animals are still afraid of the man’s fire, and people today still light their fires at night to scare the animals away.
That is what gives people power over the animals: the people know how to make fire.
Otherwise, the animals wouldn’t be afraid.
[a Damara story from Namibia]
Inspired by: "The Creation of Men and Animals" in Bantu Customs and Legends published in the journal Folklore by James Macdonald, 1892.
Notes: You can read the original story online. This is a Damara legend from southern Africa.
Damara people dancing around the fire