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Why I am afraid of the rainbow: A Kalahari Bushman’s tale

July 11, 2019 at 11:00 am | Art Attack

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley | Staff Writer

July 11, 2019 at 11:00 am | Art Attack

Image source: stefanolevi.com

Let me tell you a story; my tribesmen belong to the cohort of people named ‘the oldest living’ group of people on Earth, we are the San, sons and daughters of the Sun named ‘bushmen’ by other men only because we chose to stay on the Kalahari; to learn of her secrets and nurture her in return, so we became the so-called; ‘Kalahari Bushmen’.

I remember grandfather telling me a few nights before he finally transitioned to join his ancestors that we have lived for about 20, 000 years on the natural plains of South Afrika, and therefore we should define our worth by the content of our experiences, ignoring all other pre-existing measures.

He also told me why we are afraid of the rainbow, it was a story of trust, mistrust, betrayal and murder…

“…Rain was once a beautiful woman who lived in the sky. She wore a rainbow around her waist and she was married to the creator of the Earth, together they had three daughters. When the eldest daughter came of age, she asked her mother if she could go down to Earth. Mother rain granted her blessing and she came down to Earth where she met and married a hunter. Whiles she was gone, Mother Rain had another child; a son named Son-eib. When Son-eib came of age, he also asked his mother if he could go down to Earth with his two remaining sisters. Mother Rain afraid of losing her precious children refused to let them go, but she reversed her decision when the trusted Wolf offered to guide her children on Earth, little did she know however that the Wolf was secretly envious of Son-eib. Upon reaching Earth, the Wolf and Mother Rain’s children were offered food and shelter by an old woman who lived on the edge of the Earth, but as they all retired to bed, the Wolf ushered Son-eib into a solitary hut standing apart from everyone else’s. And whiles everyone was asleep, he rounded up some of the wicked people of Earth and together they set fire to Son-eib’s hut, killing the poor innocent son of Rain. What the Wolf did not know however was that Son-eib had befriended a little red bird when he arrived on Earth, so on the night his hut was set to fire, the little red bird flew off into the sky to inform Mother rain of what the Wolf had done. Mother Rain got furious and came down in a storm with the rainbow around her waist to punish the Wolf and his wicked crime partners. Lightning came down with her, striking the Wolf and all his wicked partners in crime…”

This is why whenever the rainbow appears, we the ‘bushmen’ of the Kalahari seek shelter from Mother Rain’s wrath. We pray, we chant, we cry, we hit the grounds with sticks and clap for the rainbow to go away; begging Mother Rain to have mercy on us.

The folklores of my tribe’s people tend to carry a deeper meaning, and this one tells of the coming of the mother of colour who will bring justice and judgement to all people of colour.

The blood of the oppressed calls out to the forces of justice to bear witness to what the Wolves have done to her precious children. The Igbo Landing of 1803 testifies to it, The Buffalo Race Riots speak of it and the middle passage freely reveals the horrors brought down on the people of colour.

I, however, understand that the oppressed shall not remain oppressed forever, for all things are temporal and life has her many phases.

The clouds are gathering again; I better find my shelter quickly before Mother Rain comes down.

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