Ngemba Myth Essay

2093 Words9 Pages
Myths could be viewed as a representation of action, which can be analyzed from a series of consequentially related sequences. These units of action are known as mythemic sequences, made up of the following categories: agent, action, patient and consequence. Each sequence mirrors the syntactic structure of the action and serves as a schema for dividing and organizing events in the myth. In this light, an agent acts upon a patient and changes the condition or state of the patient. Although the mythemic sequence seemingly performs several roles, it maintains the integrity of the sequence as one unit. The various aspects found within the sequence are hierarchically superimposed, showing that the basic unit of action in myths can be analyzed into…show more content…
That is why the Ngemba people prefer to ascribe human roles that determine the mortal and immortal state of man to dogs, chameleons or toads. It is evident in Ngemba philosophy that these animals expose the character traits of the people who lived long ago, and their role in shaping man's destiny on earth. They also think that if characters, who today are strategically replaced by oral performers with names of animals and birds or inanimate objects were known, the society would obviously eliminate or stigmatize anybody who has bearing to such ancestry. For this reason, performers use names of animals with the similar character traits. This "thingification" is accepted by the society or culturally imposed. This can be further proven by the fact that these animals, literally, suffer the fate as a result of being used in these myths. The chameleon remains a perpetual enemy to the Ngemba people, and no Ngemba man hesitates to kill it each time it surfaces out of its closet. The toad remains a permanent “football” to the Ngemba man. The dog (in some cases) hunts, guards, but never will taste the real fruits of its labour. As long as man is a mortal being, these animals remain victims of circumstances. With this in mind, I will proceed in the examination of the general features of agents and patients within a defined cultural context -

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