Central Africa in the Caribbean, 10-11




pp. 264-302


Imaginative Traditions









Other Discursive Genres



Imaginative Traditions


p. 264 myth of slaying of elephant by small arthropod

"A story about the elephant and the ant comes from Cuba. ...

Meanwhile the ant in question stung him on his heart and the elephant died."

{This is somewhat similar to the myth (PE, s.v. "Jambukes`vara") of the slaying of elephant Pus.pa-danta (a Jaina deity) by the poisonous bite of spider Malya-vant (eponym of Malaya-lam).} {But the emmet may indicate a specificly S`ikh provenience for the Cuban story : for, it (valmika) is to be found interacting with characters of the names Agni-S`IKHa and Rupa-S`IKHa in the K-S-S, lib. VII, cap. XXXIX (p. 574).}

PE = Vettam Mani : Puran.ic Encyclopaedia. 1975. https://archive.org/stream/puranicencyclopa00maniuoft/puranicencyclopa00maniuoft_djvu.txt & http://nitaaiveda.com/All_Scriptures_By_Acharyas/Puranas/Puranic_Encyclopedia/J.htm

K-S-S = Somadeva Bhat.t.a (transl. by C. H. Tawney) : Katha-Sarit-Sagara. Calcutta, 1880-1884. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/40588/40588.txt

{Although Puspa-danta be a Jaina directional elephant-deity, yet nevertheless the myth relating Pus.pa-danta to Malya-vant is likely to be derived from the KAN.-phat. religious order, inasmuch as Vara-ruci's (later incarnation of Pus.pa-danta) recitation was relayed (K-S-S 2:26 -- cited in SR, p. 334) via the significantly named KAN.a-bhuti to Gun.a-ad.hya (later incarnation of Malya-vant).}

SR = Charles Rockwell Lanman : A Sanskrit Reader. Boston : Ginn & Co, 1889. http://books.google.com/books?id=EBItAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA333&lpg=PA333&dq=

pp. 264-6 tales about animal-characters

p. 264

"A character called Zanba ~ Zamba appears in tales from

{This name /ZaMba/ must instead be cognate with Skt. /jambu/ 'jackfruit', for there is a jackfruit-orchard in the spider-biteth-elephant Tamil temple-myth (Sthala-puran.a).} {In view of Ajivika legend of "seyan.a-e gandha-hatthi" (the 6th of the "8 Finalities" -- SH&DA, p. 68) elephants spraying perfume upon (thus baptizing by aspergation) Go-sala Maskarin, -- there is much likelihood that Koongo /NSAmBa/ is cognate instead with <ibri^-and->aramaic /S.eba</ 'to dip, to baptize' of the Manda<i^ in Ah^waz of H^uzistan.}

p. 265

the island of Marie-Galante, ... nearby ... Guadeloupe, and ... it seems safe to assume that this character was none other than Nsamba (Ko) 'elephant'. ...

In a tale that is a version of the tar-baby yarn, Zamba is the dupe (Rutil 1981, 83-87)."

{The "tar-baby" tale is well-known to Creek mythology and to Cherokee mythology, and thus is of AmerIndian provenience. It is unknown in Africa.}

[from Tabaquite in Trinidad] "When Crab confesses to the deed, the witch swipes off his head. ... (... Elder 1972, 28-30) ...

{[Kongolese myth] "Lion came cause` he had heard that Crab dared to compare his new head to Lion's own magnificent head. ...

"... Monkey Made Funga Kill Lion"" (Cipriano Gomez the Younger 1972, pp. 68-70)."

"Crab invited us!" eeked the youngest Bushbaby" ("WhCHNH"). [The bushbaby (galago) is, like the monkey, a primate.]}

p. 266

[from Cuba] "the bird-king called Kinkuampi ... reaches the river, there ... the birds dancing ... say, "... There's a music in the river." When he takes a calabash and dips it in the water, the river begins to sing ... .

The bird king throws away the calabash and begins to sing ... (Garci`a Gonza`lez 1974, 135 ...)."

{apparently, an aitiological myth of the origin of singing by birds : gourds (calabashes) are traditionally used in China in place of the bag for bagpipes, and according to the Radhaswami (RADHAsoami), bagpipe-music is praevalent in the high heaven S`ac Khan.d..}

SH&DA = Arthur Llewellyn Basham : History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas. London, Luzac, 1951.

Rutil 1981 = Alain Rutil : Contes Marie-Galantais de Guadeloupe. Paris : E'ditions Caribe'ennes.

Elder 1972 = Jacob D. Elder : Ma Rose Point : an Anthology of Rare and Strange Legends from Trinidad and Tobago. Port-of-Spain : National Cultural Council of Trinidad and Tobago.

Gomez the Younger 1972 = Cipriano Gomez : "How Monkey Made Funga Kill Lion". In Elder 1972.

"WhCHNH" = "Why the Crab Has No Head". http://www.assatashakur.org/forum/watoto-wa-jua-children-sun/39020-why-crab-has-no-head.html

Garci`a-Gonza`lez 1974 = Jose` Garci`a-Gonza`lez : "4 Cuentos Afrocubanos". ISLAS 47:133-50.

{The color of the purple jambu fruit is ascribed to the skin of Acyuta Kr.s.n.a, who is said to have arrived on earth from heaven, and therefore to enjoy swinging in a swing alongside his concubine Radha; correspondingly, after returning to earth from heaven, the two brides of two planet-gods "came to to swing from the rope which hung from the sky." (Puyallup myth from coast of Puget Sound -- ILPN, p. 144) The river (at Vr.n.davana) whence Acyuta Kr.s.n.a acquired Radha may be likened to the river reached by Kinkuampi; and Kinkuampi's river's music might be likened to the flute-music played by Acyuta Kr.s.n.a for Radha. Vr.n.davana is "the place of the hidden moon", so that "body are always standing on end like a jack-fruit ... in the dark purple sky were the devotees, and the Lord arose on the horizon looking more iridescent than a million moons." (S`CBhAL 4) Bird-king Kinkuampi is aequivalent to Acyuta Kr.s.n.a's bird-vehicle Garutman, complying with whose coloration "the sky suddenly turned to a lightish purple, reflecting his layered wings" (A-mukta-malya-da IV:10 -- AKLP&D, p. 157), so that "the northern sky is more purple." ("JD-H")}

ILPN = Ella E. Clark : Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Univ of CA Pr, Berkeley, 1953.

S`CBhAL = S`ri Caitanya Bhagavant, Antya Lila. http://www.bvml.org/SCM/SCB/ant4.html

AKLP&D = Srinivas G. Reddy : The Āmuktamālyada of Kṛṣṇadevarāya : Language, Power & Devotion in Sixteenth Century South India. PhD diss, Univ of CA at Berkeley, 2011. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9v6585kp#page-1

"JD-H" = "Sacred Geography - the Geography of the "Golden Age". Jambudvipa-Hyperborea". http://www.earthbeforeflood.com/sacred_geography_-_the_geography_of_golden_age.html

pp. 266-7 Tata Bisako

p. 266

"Tata Bisako, a spirit creature

p. 267

of a lake ... offers to take care of a woman's child while the mother worked in the fields adjoining the river, but ... refusing to yield up the child, till the diviner and the spirits of the air intervene (Cabrera [1936], 117-23)."

Cabrera 1936 = Lydia Cabrera : Cuentos negros de Cuba. (reprinted 1972 Madrid : Colleccio`n del Chichereku`) [English transl. : Afro-Cuban TalesUniv of NE Pr, 2005]

p. 268 heroine Tangune`

At the bidding of her Tail-and-"eye-teeth" bridegroom,

{With his tail, fire was set to Lanka by Hanu-mant ('Jaw-having').

{In order to beware of her husband Hephaistos,

Tangune` was watched by a "cock"; but that cock was negligent of such watch-duty.

[Like a rooster seeking the dawn,] Hanu-mant sought out the sun in order to devour it.}

Aphro-dite was watched for by man named Alektruon ('Cock, Rooster'); but that Cock-man was negligent of such watch-duty.

Tangune` was assisted to escape by ferryman

{Rama-candra built a floating pontoon-bridge under sky through which Hanu-man had leapt.}

Aphro-dite was committing adultery with Ares, but was assisted to escape by Hermes (owner of winged sandals).}

(who was a "bald" Dove) by means of his scissors.

{cf. 'Split-Brained' goddess Chinna-masta holding scissors}

(Sancti Spiri`tus in Las Villas province, Cuba -- Garci`a Gonza`lez 1974, pp. 136-9)

(concerning Hanu-mant -- Rama-ayana)

(E:CHI&O -- DCM, s.v. "Alectryon"; WLS, p. 348)

E:CHI&O = Eustathios : Commentaries on Homeros : Ilias and Odusseia.

DCM = Pierre Grimal (transl. by Maxwell-Hyslop) : The Dictionary of Classical Mythology.

WLS = Fowler (transl.) : The Works of Lucian of Samosata. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=NNM43hFTURwC&pg=PA348&lpg=PA348&dq=

{with Hanu-mant, cf. Aztec day-sign Malinalli (jawbone with eyen) = Maya day-sign Eb ('tooth')}

p. 272 finding buried treasures or treasures otherwise hidden by persons since defunct

"In Jamaica a tale was told of slaves who has buried their money at the root of silk cotton trees. At those sites gold chains and gold tables come out of the ground and spin around at midday. But these treasures cannot be culled because they are attached by chains to the ground. The booty can be accessed only with the help of the dead. They would appear in dreams advising a person to place ... offerings to them at the base of a silk cotton tree. ...

[for the Nsundi, quoted from Laman 1962, 3:21 :] A deceased person may then reveal himself to a living person in a dream, and tell him where he has hidden possessions ... . When in the morning the person in question goes and has a look, he finds the possessions".

"ancestral spirits can provide beneficence by "notifying a descendent in dreams that they have hidden treasure for him in a certain place" (MacGaffey 1986, 171)."

pp. 272-4 Tiete Mbinj (also known as Ma-tete, or as Ma-sese)

p. 272

"A Jamaican ... legend centres around Tiete Mbinj < ntyetye mbinza 'a type of very small bird', but also the name of a small man who carried a

p. 273

big basket and who had the power to appear from nowhere. ... One version of the legend says that he sang for his food".

"But the name also involves a word play with

ntete (Ko) 'basket'.

{cf. /T.EnE>/ 'basket' (Strong's 2935)}

As such, ... this story ... concerns a mythical figure known as Matete, or Masese, noted for the large basket he always carries."

[quoted from Bilby & Bunseki 1983, p. 37 :] "He is characterized as being small and delicately-built (sometimes he is represented as an

"nsesi," or gazelle).

{cf. /S.iyI^/ ' "wild beast of the desert" (Strong's 6728)}

Among other things, ... there are many tales in which he uses his magically-endowed basket to contain ... rivals who exceed him in size ... . ... As they grow up, children are warned that they must behave properly, for they cannot know when the spirit of Ntete Matete (literally, "Matete's basket") is watching them. (Matete is sometimes invisible ... .) ... In his basket he carries all kinds of things, including ... misfortunes,

which he will sometimes bestow ... . He also accepts gifts from those who are inclined to give".

{/MATTaT/ 'gift' (Strong's 4991 -- also a personal name MATTaTTah, 4992) may be cognate with /MaTeTe/.}

"Tiete Mbinj is also echoic of Tata Mbenza, praise name among the Koongo of the Kimbenza clan, and is used to recall Ne-Mbenza ..., believed to be the clan's founder. This praise name is

p. 274

used by the people of Kimbenza descent to introduce themselves when they are about traveling. As such, the Jamaican version of the name may recall ntete a Kimbenza, "the communal basket/sack of the Kimbenza clan, which symbolizes the providing of the collectivity with its basic needs" (Bilby and Bunseki 1983, 37)."

Bilby & Bunseki 1983 = Kenneth Bilby & Fu-Kiau Bunseki : Kumina : a Kongo-Based Tradition ... . Brussels : Centre d'E'tude et de Documentation Africanines.




p. 281 makamba-songs & zumbi-music

"In Curac,ao, there exists a body of songs referred to as ... makamba. These have African-type rhythms and melodies, and are cast in a barely decipherable language called Gene, spelled Guene`. This music falls into the categories of laments, work songs and protest songs.

Another African-type body of music is referred to as ... zumbi, that is, for the spirits. Zumbi is Mbundu and Umbundu for 'spirit'. The songs for the

... harvest {cf. European depictions of Death as a reaper harvesting the souls of the dead} or seu`,

[p. 357, n. 10:9 "si^ hu^ (Fon) 'water drum', a Fon and Mahi musical instrument composed of calabashes turned upside down in water and beaten as an element of the religious observances "on the occasion of funerals. In Brazil it is still practiced as a last {funebrial} rite ... and is called the same name"".]

as well as tambu music, are also African in rhythm and melody (La Croes 1988b, 230-31)."

La Croes 1988b = Eric laCroes : "El Seu` : fiesta tradicional ... en Curac,ao". In :- SEGUNDO SEMINARIO FOLKLORE LATINOAMERICANO Y DEL CARIBE : RECUERDOS 33-54. Puerto Rico Departamiento de Cultura, Municipio de Caguas.




p. 282 whirlwind; mushrooms

"when a small whirlwind occurs, twisting leaves and dirt at a singular spot, the Suku attribute the occurrence to the ancestral dead, the banvumbi ... .

Similarly, when silence suddenly interrupts a conversation, the Suku consider that the Great Spirit, Nzambi, has passed ... (Lamal 1965, 173). In the Caribbean, people remark : ... "angels passing".

{'Silence' is /SIGE/; and Strabon (HIT, p. 119) "has mentioned Protesileon as opposite to Sigeon." In Protesi-la[w]os's wedding with La[w]o-dameia, the couple had committed "sacrilege" in that (DCM, s.v. "Protesilaus") "The marriage had not been properly celebrated as the ritual sacrifices had not been carried out." On account of this original sin-of-omission, she was "burned alive" (DCM, s.v. "Laodamia") with flaming wax[, in commemoration whereof waxen candles must be burned in order to expiate sins of souls who are in Purgatory].}

Also, in many parts of the Caribbean, mushrooms are called "jumbi parasol", meaning 'umbrellas of ghosts';

the Suku reserve ... baka bwanzambi 'spirit creatures', for a type of very poisonous mushroom (p. 157)."

Lamal 1965 = Franc,ois Lamal : Basuku et Bayaka des districts Kwango et Kwilu au Congo. Tervuren (Belgique) : Muse'e Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.

HIT = Richard Chandler : The History of Ilium or Troy. London : James Robson, 1802. http://books.google.com/books?id=wEYVAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=

{As for parasols, /miZ.aLLa/ 'parasol' (A-ED) may be a reference to S.eLaL-ponit the wife of Manowah. : inasmuch as that couple's son S^ims^o^n carried off city-gates (S^apat.i^m 16:3), much as Patro-klos took care of (DCM, s.v. "Patroclus") Euru-pulos ('Broad Gate') : Patro-klos being son of Menoitios[, whose name (< */MaNeC^iya-/) is cognate with /MaNowaH./]. The parasol-"ghosts" could be taken as an allusion to the ghost of Patro-klos on Leuke island at the embogue of the Istros.} {Manowah. and Menoitios have their name cognate with that of MANIk-Candra the husband of (IBE, p. 72) Mayanamati : their son being Gopi-candra (aequivalent to S^ims^o^n and to Patro-klos). The name of Patro-klos's mother Peri-opis 'Surrounded by Towers' . The guru Had.i-pada, who was immured under a stable, may be aequivalent to Rhesos owner of horses; for, while Rhesos is (according to Homeros -- DCM, s.v. "Rhesus") son of Eioneus; Had.i-pa was ("SMC", p. 137) a Vais.n.ava, a term cognate with /[W]ei[h]oneu-/. Had.i- pada is also known as "JaLaN-dhaRa" = GeLaNoR the son of Sthenelas the son of Krotopos. S.eLaL-ponit and Manowah. were excluded from ("ChS") the festivities of >ibs.an (<arabi />ubd./ 'popliteal space (back of knee)' -- A-ED, p. 2a), pertaining to the >ibad.iya of <uman (whence the OM-kara), wherein /<awm/ is 'to float' (A-ED, p. 771b) : as might be praedicated of Nara-ayana. Related to /<awm/ may be considered /<awamm/ (A-ED, p. 751a) 'POPuLace', cf. Latin /POPLit-/ 'hough' (LD). Cf. also (related to /miZ.aLLa/) /Z.aLa<a/ 'to walk lamely' (A-ED), which might be praedicated of S^ims^o^n, who (LB, p. 523) "was maimed in both feet." The gold-smelting gaze (IBE, p. 73) of Had.i- pada (whilest subterranean) would be comparable with the glittering gaze (whilest subterranean amongst the emmets, cf. gold-mining emmets of the Paktues according to Herodotos) of Valmiki : for, during Tokpela is the "mineral sikya`svu, gold" (BH, p. 11) for the Emmet Folk (BH, p. 13) until (BH, p. 14) "the end of Tokpela, the First World."

IBE = Benoytosh Bhattacharyya : An Introduction to Buddhist Esoterism. http://books.google.com/books?id=xJ3MqlIwL2UC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=

"SMC" = G. A. Grierson : "Song of Manik Candra". J OF THE ASIATIC SOC OF BENGAL 47 (1878):135-238. http://books.google.com/books?id=zboIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=

"ChS" = "CherubSuperior". http://saramulo.0catch.com/cherubsuperior.html

A-ED = Cowan : Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. 4th edn.

LD = Lewis & Short : A Latin Dictionary.

LB = Louis Ginzberg : Legends of the Bible. Konecky & Konecky.

BH = Frank Waters : Book of the Hopi. Viking-Penguin Bks, 1963.


Other Discursive Genres


p. 284 obscenities

"With regard to th use of obscenities, ... "Bakongo, like Bushongo people, object strongly to obscene words; Bayanzi ... do not" (Torday 1969, 244). ...

Trinidad Kongolese

African Kongolese


"jinja ngwaku"

"nzi`ni ya' ngwa' -a'ku"

"vagina of mother your pl."

Torday 1969 = E'mil Torday : On the Trail of the Bushongo. 1925. (reprinted Negro Universities Pr, 1969)

p. 285 outspokenness of African women

[quoted from Weeks 1913, p. 105] "Women loom large in Congo village and town life ..., and when they speak ... the chief and the headmen hear and profit by the advice".

"The outspokennes of ordinary African women, both in the plantation and post-plantation Caribbean, is legendary".

Weeks 1913 = John H. Weeks : Among Congo Cannibals. London : Seeley, Service & Co.





pp. 315-9, 323-9 some Caribbean Kongo terms


Caribbean Kongo

African Koongo


[CuKo] /musenga ~ misenga/ 'sugarcane'

[Ko] /munse ~ munze/ 'sugarcane' (Garci`a Gonza`lez & Valde`s Acosta 1978, p. 45)


[CuKo] /ensafu/ 'avocado; mango'

[Ko] /nsafu/ 'Canarium safu'


[Trinidad] /pumumu/ 'skin-irritant'

[Um] /epumumu/ 'ground[-nesting] hornbill (Bucorvus cafer)' "They take flight slowly after hopping heavily for a few paces" (Hambly [1934], p. 134) [cf. Haw. /mumu/ "Thud-like sound, as of footsteps" (HD)]


[CuKo] /makuundu/ 'plantain'

[Zoombo] /makhondo/, [KiNianga] /makondo/ 'plantain (Musa paradisiaca)'


[Puerto Rico] /c^ingambo/, [Louisiana] /gombo/, [Guadeloupe] /gonbo/ 'okra'

[Mb] /kingombo/ 'okra (Abelmoschus esculens, Hibiscus esculens)'


/zambo/ 'AmerIndian-Negro hybrid'

/nsambu ~ nsamba/ 'path through the grass'


[Virgin I.s & Curac,ao] /bomba/ 'slave making report to overseer'

[Ko] /bamba/ 'work as a courtier, commissioner, agent'

[Antigua] /pehe/ 'with light skin-color & wavy hair'

/mpeehe/ "spirit which seizes the will of a human or animal and deprives it of its will"


[Guyana] /budu/ 'slave'

[Ko] /bundu/ 'slave'


(p. 326) [Trinidad] bongo 'dugout canoe'

(p. 327) [Kande in Gabon, & Huku in Zaire] bongo 'canoe' (Castillo Mathieu 1995, pp. 78-9)


[Columbia] /mapale`/ 'African dance'

[Mb] /mapalo/ 'dance'


[Guadaloupe] /katoutou/ & [Trinidad] /tutu/ 'small calabash'

[Ko] /tutu/ 'little calabash'

Garci`a Gonza`lez & Valde`s Acosta 1978 = Jose` Garci`a-Gonza`lez & Gema Valde`s-Acosta : "Restos de Lenguas Bantu`es en La Regio`n Central de Cuba". ISLAS 59:4-50.

Hambly 1934 = Wilfrid Hambly : The Ovimbundu of Angola. Chicago : Field Mus of Natural Hist. (reprinted 1968)

HD = Pukui & Elbert : Hawaiian Dictionary. Univ Pr of HI, Honolulu.

Castillo Mathieu 1995 = Nicola`s del Castillo-Mathieu : "Bantuismos en el espan~ol de Columbia". AMERICA NEGRA 7:73-92.


Maureen Warner-Lewis : Central Africa in the Caribbean : Transcending Time, Transforming Cultures. Univ of West Indies Pr, Kingston (Jamaica), 2003.