Stories and Fables of Ashanti: African Python

Long ago a man and a woman came down from heaven, while another man and woman came out of the ground.

The Lord of Heaven also sent a African python, a non-poisonous snake of Africa, which made its home in a river.

In the beginning men and women had no children; they had no desire for one another and did not know the process of procreation and birth.

It was the Python who taught them. He asked the men and women if they had any children, and on being told that they had none, the Python said he would make the women conceive. He told the couples to stand facing each other, and then he went into the river and came out with his mouth full of water. This he sprayed on their bellies, saying "Kus, kus" (words that are still used in clan rituals).

Then the Python told the couples to go home and lie together, and the women conceived and bore children.

These children took the spirit of the river where the Python lived as their clan spirit. Members of that clan hold the python as taboo; they must never kill it, and if they find a python that has died or been killed by someone else, they put white clay on it and bury it human fashion.