Dagara, Cosmology & Creation

For the Dagara, cosmology begins with the story of creation.

In the beginning there was no earth as we know it. In its place was a burning planet, a ball of fire combusting at high speed. Therefore, fire is the first element of the Dagara wheel. Fire is present in everything, and everything needs fire.

It was not until this moving and burning sphere encountered a huge body of water that things began to change. Water became the second element in the cosmological wheel. The shock resulting from the collision of fire and water not only slowed the combustion process, but also chased fire into the underworld, leaving the surface as a hot steamy place, fertile for the breeding of all kinds of life forms.

This surface, hospitable to life, is what is known as earth, which constitutes the third elemental principal of the Dagara cosmological wheel. The various hard components of the earth provide structure and connection and are known as mineral or stone, the fourth element in the cosmological wheel.

Meanwhile, a steam of great density formed the atmosphere around the earth. As the steam expanded, its pressure began to subside. The reduction of atmospheric pressure was conducive to the birth of life,and thus the fifth element, vegetative nature, came into being.

In African traditional religions the cosmogony usually describes humans appearing near the end of creation. In many creation stories God is likened to a potter who creates humans out of clay and then pours the breath of life into them.

Source: African Traditional Religion in the Modern World, 2d ed. p 119

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