Ngewo, the Supreme God of the Mende people, sent two messages to people: life, carried by the dog, and death, carried by the toad. The dog rested along the way and had a meal. The toad never stopped, thus reaching humans first with the message of death. According to many African mythologies, death was not part of the original state of humans, but arrived later by a message from God, which was usually subverted, slow, stammered, misdirected, wrong, or late. Other stories explain death arriving as a result of man's indebtedness, arrogance, tardiness, or disobedience. Although death was not part of the original human condition, or maybe because of it, traditional African societies are laden with rituals, beliefs, and practices that acknowledge, affirm, grieve, and ...

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