Fun fact: Most creation myths have a story that features a great flood slaying humanity in a grand godly gesture.
In the beginning, there was sky above and water and marshland below.
Olorun, god of the sky and Olokun, god of seas cohabited the earth. Obatala, another god, saw potential below and asked Olorun for permission to create land for some living things. He must not have liked fish people
To do this, he would need a gold chain long enough to reach below, a snail’s shell filled with sand, a white hen, a black cat, and a palm nut, all of which he was to carry in a bag. So Obatala set up a GoFundMe account and was like, “send fundz.” And the other gods contributed gold for him to get the stuff because they were good friends.
Orunmila instructed him to pour out the sand and release the white hen. The hen immediately began scratching the sand and scattering it about to create land. The bigger piles became hills and the smaller became valleys. Obatala jumped on the hill and named the place Ife. And if you’ve ever been to Ife, you’d bow to the creativity of that white hen, I tell you. Because of her, I have to walk up and down just to get to class, but it’s fine. I’m fine. She really could have just pecked evenly for a flatland but it’s fine.
So the dry land spread out. Obatala dug a whole for planting a palmnut. The palm nut grew into a tree instantly. He did this severally. Palm trees abound Ife. He then sat with the cat for company, because cats make for good company. Cats are wonderful creatures. I mean, there’s no limit to how long you can have a cat and not get bored
Turns out there was a limit because after many months, he soon got bored with the routine, and the cat (he was more a dog person, anyway). The cat couldn’t talk or make sacrifices so he was like, “hey, what if I made people to keep me company?” He started out great, dug out clay to make people, but he soon got tired.
He made wine from a palm tree. Drunken, he created deformed creatures and asked Olorun to breathe life into them. Obatala soon realized what he had done as the new people set to work, and swore never to drink again as he began his 12 step plan and joined AA. Sober, he built new, perfect beings (well as perfect as humans could be, anyway). He became the patron god of mankind, more specifically the deformed.
The gods liked the humans, for whatever reason. All except one. Um, remember how Olokun was god of the sea. Which the chicken had sprinkled sand on to form land. Well, the mofo was mad. Legitimately so. In the words of Shrek, “that’s my swamp.” So he sent this big ass flood to flood humankind, even though humans didn’t create themselves. Many drowned but some got to high ground and begged the god, Eshu, to go plead their case to the gods.
Eshu demanded sacrifice be made to Obatala and himself before he would deliver the message. The people sacrificed some goats, and Eshu returned to the sky.
When Orunmila heard the news he climbed down the golden chain to the earth, Tarzan style and cast many spells which caused the flood waters to retreat and the dry African land reappear.
Needless to say, every one took Olokun very seriously after that. For good reason. He’s like Yoruba Poseidon.
Author’s note: If you’re like me and are wondering what happened to the chicken, I don’t know the answer. But hopefully it got marinated and roasted. By Maui, somehow.