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Keywords: Children's literature, Yoruba creation myth, male and female orishas, Obtala, generosity, sacredness of life, Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria

Global Regions: Africa

Countries: Cameroon , Mali , Nigeria

Subjects: Arts, History and Social Studies, Language Arts & Literature

Resource Types: Book Awards

Time Periods: Ancient, Pre-Modern

Themes: Belief Systems, Culture and Society

Levels: Elementary (K-5)


The Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth

By David Anderson, illustrated by Kathleen Atkins (Sights Productions, 1991)

Children's Africana Book Award Winner:
Best Book for Young Children

ISBN 1886366098

"This Yoruba creation myth begins in the heavenly court of the all-powerful and his agents, male and female orishas. All the orishas are content, save one named Obtala, whose wondering impels him to employ his power in some meaningful way. He prepares thoughtfully for this work, aided by his fellow orishas, and descends from heaven on a golden chain. He takes soil that has been sown with the personality of the orishas and forms humans in his own image,'carefully and lovingly,' so that the resulting creatures (even the imperfect ones) are 'beautiful to behold.' The all-powerful then brings them to life and sets the earth spinning, completing this noble, reverent, and positive tale. In the colorful illustrations, glowing with hot yellow and sapphire, ebony silhouettes are effectively set off by elegant, vibrantly patterned clothing and gold ornaments. The bright backgrounds recall batiked African textiles. This story's themes of determination, effort, generosity, and the sacredness of life, as well as the attractive art, extend its appeal beyond myth, religion, or ethic collections." Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle (Amazon.com)

Recommended by: African Studies Association

Length: 32 pages

Year Produced: 1996

Material: Award-winning book

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