BY Stephen Nartey, 3:11pm August 26, 2022,

The Legend of Forest Pebbles and the Sky god of West Africa.

It may appear as bizarre, but, it isn’t any different from the Greeks, Romans and Aryan Hindus’ association of the sun, moon and earth as objects of worship.

To some tribes of West Africa, the sky and its celestial objects are objects of worship. However, the worship of the sky god was born through the picking of certain pebbles by tribesmen of the Nunumas of the Senegal.

Tribesmen of Nunumas build their shrines after the head of the family has found a pebble in the forest. Most importantly, the pebble must catch the eye of the clans head by its beauty, colour or curious shape.

The expectation is that, he will take the pebble home and construct a shrine of beaten earth measuring three feet high and place the pebble on top, according to Gifford lectures.

This is the beginning of sky worship by tribesmen of Nunumas as they are expected to offer sacrifices afterwards and thank the good god for the blessing of chancing upon the pebble.

Oral history posits that the pebbles fell from the sky and are particles of divinity directed at clan heads, hence, the high regard accorded to them. Shrines for these pebbles are built in a rectangular form like fortress in the verandah of large family dwellings, and are called sukalas.  

The sacrifice to the sky god comes in two different forms. A fowl is killed and thrown into the air. As it flaps its wings and wriggles on the floor, if the fowl falls on its back, it is considered as a good omen. It is believed among the Nunumas that this omen means that the sky god has accepted their  sacrifice.

However, if the bird falls on its side instead, it is a bad omen and signals the displeasure of the sky god. The tribesman who made the offerings in this instance, will have to continue making sacrifices till the fowl falls on it back after its throat is slit.

The act of sacrifice in the Nunumas tribe is not taken lightly because of the belief that ancestral spirits are playing supervisory role over their prayer requests.

The Nunumas of Senegal are not the only tribe that birth their worship to the sky god through stumbling on pebbles in the forest. The Kassunas Fras tribe in Western Africa worship the sky god after a man finds these pebbles. He is expected to construct a shrine in a cone like form in front of the door of his house.

Whereas in the Nunumas this action is led by the head of the clan, among the Kassunas Fras it’s done by the man who finds the pebble. The tribesman at Kassunas Fras place the pebbles on top of the cone built from beaten earth and offer sacrifices of fowls and goats to the sky god.

The philosophy of elevating the sky god above all celestial powers can be traced to the thinking of the Mossi of Yatenga tribes in Upper Senegal.

They believe the sky god has a double of the celestial powers of the earth god and he does not mind himself with the affairs of men, although he superintends over every activity.

Worshiping of the sky god is popular among many tribes in Senegal. The Samos represent the sky god with balls of earth which they call loro or lare.

Last Edited by:Stephen Nartey Updated: September 13, 2022


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