Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": African High Gods

Like many celestial Supreme beings of 'primitive' peoples, the High Gods of a great number of African ethnic groups are regarded as creators, all-powerful, benevolent, and so forth; but they play a rather insignificant part in the religious life. Being either too distant or too good to need a real cult, they are invoked only in cases of great crises (Cf. M.Eliade, 'Patterns in Comparative Religion)

Nzambi, The High God of the Bakongo


The Bakongo tribe is native to the lower Congo River area.

Nzambi Mpungu is a being, invisible, but very powerful, who made all men and things,even fetishes which he has given to men for their own good. 'If he had not given us our fetishes, we should all be dead long ago.' He intervenes in the creation of every child, he punishes those who violated his prohibitions. They render him no worship, for he has need of none and is inaccessible. On earth man lives with his incessant needs to satisfy; the aged have their privileged position. Above all is Nzambi, the sovereign Master, unapproachable, who has placed man here below to take him away some day, at the hour of death. He watches man, searches him out everywhere and takes him away, inexorably, young or old... Among the laws there are nkondo mi Nzambi, "God's prohibitions,' the violation of which constitutes a sumu ku Nzambi [a sin against Nzambi], and an ordinary sanction of this is lufwa lumbi 'a bad death'

Van Wing, Etudes Bakongo (Brussels 1921; pp.170 ff.) as translated by Edwin W. Smith in Smith (ed.), African Ideas of God: A Symposium (2nd ed; London, 1950), p.159

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