On a clear winter’s night at Londolozi you can’t help but gaze up at the night sky and be mezmerized by the sheer beauty of the band of light that stretches across the heavens.
We all know this as the Milky Way which is the name of the Galaxy that our sun and all the planets are a part of. A galaxy is defined as “a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by a gravitational attraction”.
Many of us have heard some of the more common Greek mythology about the constellations and the Milky Way, but some of the African myths are just as wonderful, and often more relevant to us here down at the southern end of the continent.
One of which was that the San People believe that the band of light we see as the Milky Way was created by a young girl who one evening flung a handful of ashes into the night sky, lighting up a route for her people to follow home.
In some African cultures it is believed that when night falls there is a Godly realm that is separated from Earth by a black cloth over the sky, and in this Godly realm there is perpetual brightness. Where we see stars is just where the cloth has been worn out and the light shines through down on to Earth, and it is believed that the Gods will peep through these holes at us down on Earth.
Cattle in many African cultures are seen as a sign of wealth, and the Gods are said to have a large herd up in their Godly Kingdom that are sent to graze the pastures during the day, and in the evening they walk the same path back to the kraal, and this is why there is a white line across the sky where their hooves have worn away at the celestial roof. When we are lucky enough to see a shooting star we are really seeing one of the cattle that has has been spooked or just got a bit too excited and has slipped in the mud, creating just a brief gap in the sky for the light to flash through down to earth.
Next time you get a chance to marvel at the stars above I hope it will bring a smile to your face knowing that there just might be an African God smiling back down at you…