MYTHS AS ENDURING TRUTHS

Sometimes on inspired Sundays,I climb the pulpit in an imaginary church and retell stories from the Bible.Why?The holy book-one of the greatest works of literature in the Western canon-has some timeless stories.

The other day, I retold the story Eve being offered the forbidden fruit by the snake after a raunchy conversation. The most common comment in that post was story za jaba meaning that the Biblical story is false.

Likewise, anytime I share the story of Gikuyu and Mumbi-the creation story of the Agikuyu people, the same comment of story za jaba arises. Most of these comments come from young people. Under stably so, since the youngsters, due to technology, are more removed from vengeful gods and one eyed creatures whom the Agikuyu call marimu and the Greeks call ‘Cyclops.’

But if you were to ask the same young people about their favourite movies, a good number would mention ‘Clash of the Titans’, the movie based on a montage of Greek mythical personae like Medusa and Andromeda.Others will have watched the movie ‘Troy’ which is based on Homer’s timeless classic “Iliad.”

‘Immortals’, another blockbuster, is a movie based on Greek mythological characters like Minotaur and Theseus. For those who studied Gikuyu in lower primary like me, the story of Thithia was based on Greek hero Theseus, which had been translated to Gikuyu by one Fred K.Kago.

Likewise, you can’t mention animations that we grew up on without stumbling on myths. Lion King is based on the story of struggle between the Egyptian gods-Osiris and Horus. Peter Pan is based on the myth of eternal youth in Neverland-an imaginary place where everything is perfect in away impossible to replicate in real life. I could go on and on, but you get the drift-myths are everywhere.

There is so single definition of myth, but we can consider them to be highly respected stories which do not have to be grounded in science for historical accuracy. They are oceans of depth, in droplets of stories.

Human beings go about their lives constructing their ideas about what’s happening all time. But they do this subjectively-which explains why we have myriad creation myths-yet the world is one.

The work of myths, to a larger extent, is to lend order to seemingly disconnected bits of information. The way constellations group distant stars into tight recognizable patterns that are both imaginary and real.

Why are myths enduring? They have universal patterns(archetypes) that show up repeatedly across cultures, eras, peoples and groups. The story of Lion King is based on Egyptian gods Thoth(Simba),Horus(Mufasa) and Nala(Isis). It’s the story of Simba’s rise from being an innocent orphan who gradually becomes wiser, rebels and finally wins.

But on a more universal level, it’s the story of a young man breaking rules and rising to the top. Anyone can relate to such a story-reason why Lion King appeals to both young and old since its based on a universal pattern.Or a myth.

Gilbert Mwangi

Creative writer,dreamer,and Drum Major for all things true.

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