Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": PRAYER TO IMANA

THE GREAT CREATOR OF THE RUANDA-URUNDI


Imana is the great Creator, the First Cause of all good. He does not enter into daily life at all, in a practical sense, and yet he is continually in the people's thoughts; all his acts are of his own volition, and he cannot be influenced by man. He is bonoured but not feared, as be has no power to harm; there is no cult as there is for Ryangombe. . .

There is little or no prayer made to Imana. All the worship goes to Ryangombe. There is, however, a cry for help, known as Kwambaza. A person in great distress can cry out to Imana for help wherever he is. As the cry is much the same in both countries [i.e., Ruanda and Urundi], I will give it without the vernacular, as the changes in language are too great to make either serve for both.

'O Imana of Urundi (Ruanda), if Only you would help me! 0 Imana of pity, Imana of my father's house (or country), if only you would help me! 0 Imana of the country of the Hutu and the Tutsi, if only you would help me just this once! 0 Imana, if only you would give me a rugo and children! I prostrate myself before you, Imana of Urundi (Ruanda). I cry to you: give me offspring, give me as you give to others ! Imana, what shall I do, where shall I go? I am in distress, where is there room for me? 0 Merciful, 0 Imana of mercy, help this once !'


Rosemary Guilleband, 'The Idea of God in Ruanda- Urundi,' in Edwin W. Smith (ed.), African Ideas of God: A Symposium (London, 1950), pp. 186, 192-3

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