The Ijaw people of the West African country of Nigeria who practice traditional religion indigenous to their culture believe that the Earth was created by a female deity named Woyengi, the “Great Mother.” The creation story of Woyengi testifies to her standing fiercely on the edge of the universe and observing an Earth filled with animals and vegetation, but nothing else. In the void, Woyengi descended to the Earth on a ray of lightning. At the end of her journey, the goddess stood before a table, chair, and flat stone and, with the mud of the Earth, created human dolls that were neither male nor female. She then filled their lungs with the breath of life. The dolls represented the souls of humanity and went ...

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