Marimba: the Mother of Music

Credo Mutwa [Zulu traditional healer and prophet]

From under a young musharagi tree, alongside the river rose a sacred flamingo into the forest-scented air. . . . And then she appeared, the Spirit of Beauty personified, radiating a beauty that spoke of a goodness in her soul. The sensitive face with its clear eyes scanned the world with an expression of deep wonder.

Her attire was simple: a skirt of tanned cheetah skin trimmed with cowrie shells and copper necklace and bracelets engraved with signs of secret wisdom. This was the woman who gave the tribes some of the oldest and most beautiful songs on earth and who invented countless instruments, each destined to carry her name in some form or other —Marimba, the Mother of Music.

But a curse had been laid upon her by the night-walking Goddess of Evil, the Mother of Demons who had approached her to become one of her handmaidens in the land of Darkness and this Marimba had refused to do. She stood firm and refused to succumb to the evil forces of the Land of Forever Night, recognizing that she was the wise ruler of the first tribe ruled not by force but by wisdom and love. She stood firm in her belief that she was strong enough to withstand the onslaught by being blessed with the power of music to overcome the darkness.

And so, as the days passed, Marimba guided her people to invent music instruments from enemies' weapons and everyday tools. Drums were made from worn-through mortars, bow-harps from hunting bows, and marimbas from animal snares. Instead of taking up arms when they were confronted with war, she encouraged them to throw down their weapons and dance. And then as the slowly rising sun sent its first rays to bathe the huts of the settlement, the village folk stood in amazement to the flowing sounds of Marimba's voice as she began to sing, for never before had they heard this sound — a sound not of this world, and which no human ears had ever heard before; a sound flowing through the silent dusk like a silver river through dark forests and penetrating the very depths of the soul.

"Carry my song on the wings of your light
Bear my refrains to the ends of the world

(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)

Theosophical University Press Online Edition