Maasai - Fables and Legends

The Sun and the Moon

From Naomi Kipury's excellent "Oral Literature of the Maasai" (1983: East African Educational Publishers Ltd., PO Box 45314 Nairobi, Kenya). See the copyright notice for textual extracts.

The Sun and the Moon, collected by Naomi Kipury

In the beginning the sun married the moon. They travelled together for a long time, the sun leading and the moon following. As they travelled, the moon would get tired and the sun would carry her* for three days every month.
   On the fourth day the donkeys are said to be able to see the moon. People can only see the moon on the fifth day.
   One day the moon made a mistake and she was beaten by the sun in just the same way women are beaten by their husbands. But it happened that the moon was one of those short-tempered women who fight their husbands. When she was beaten, she fought back, and wounded the sun's forehead. The sun also beat the moon and scratched her face and plucked out one of her eyes.
   When the sun realised that he was wounded, he was very embarrassed and said to himself, "I am going to shine so hard that people will not be able to look at me." And so he shone so hard that people could not look at him without squinting. That is why the sun shines so brightly.
   As for the moon, she did not feel any embarrassment and so she did not have to shine any brighter. And even now, if you look closely at the moon, you will see the wounds that the sun inflicted on her during their fight.


* The word for moon (olapa) carries the masculine gender form 'ol' in the prefix and so I would have referred to it as "he" as has been done in other narratives but here I have used the feminine form "her" in order to conform to its role as the "wife".


Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
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