January 28th, 2009 by sabrina

While researching today’s Goddess, I found a commentary that suggested that myths of “the swallowing monster,” which occur in many areas, are allegories for nature—night swallows day and then spits it back out at dawn, winter swallows summer, etc. I guess that makes sense. What do you think?


Usiququmadevu is the Zulu Goddess of destruction. She is an ugly, bearded, humpbacked monster who eats people. She lives in the Ilulange river. In the Zulu myths, her first victim is a maiden named Untombinde, who is the chief’s daughter. Untombinde and some other girls went to the bathe in the Ilulange, even though they had been warned that nothing ever returned from the river. While they were bathing, Usiququmadevu took their clothes. Each girl asked for her clothes back and Usiququmadevu gave them back, until it was Untombinde’s turn. She refused to deal with the monster, who dragged her into the river and ate her.

When the other girls reported what had happened, the chief sent warriors to bring back Usiququmadevu, but she ate them all before they could attack her. She then moved on to the village, where she ate all the people, the dogs, and the cattle. The chief had escaped, and he vowed to find Usiququmadevu and kill her. As he searched, he met groups of animals, each of whom told him to keep going. When he at last found her, Usiququmadevu pretended to be one of the animals and also told him to go on, but the chief recognized her and stabbed her in her hump. As she died, all the people, the cattle and the dogs, and lastly Untombinde came out of her mouth unharmed.

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