In the arid desert regions of Namibia, where life itself depends upon the vagaries of the sun and the rain, it is quite natural, that fantasies are spun around the spirits of the elements. The rain and the rainbow, the flaming heat of the day, the peaceful little clouds drifting by — all have their place in Bushman mythology.

Many Bushmen are very frightened of the rainbow. When they see its beautiful arch in the rain-washed air, they will beat two sticks together loudly and shout, 'Go away! Go away and do not burn us!' This is because of the story of Rain and her son.

It is told that Rain was once a beautiful woman who lived long ago in the sky. For a girdle she wore a rainbow around her waist.

Rain married the man who created the earth, he was called Flame. Together they had three beautiful daughters.

When the eldest daughter grown up, she wished to leave home and visit the earth below.

Her parents let her go, and once there, she fell in love and married a handsome hunter. While she was away, her mother Rain bore another child, a son, whom she named Son-eib.

When Son-eib was old enough, his sisters begged their parents, to let them also travel to see the world, but their mother, Rain, was afraid she would lose them all, and refused.

However, an acquaintance, Hyena, had looked upon the two daughters and found them fair. Disguising his wicked heart, he said to the father: 'Pray let them go, it will be good for their education, and I myself, will go with them to look after them.' So the father gave them permission in spite of his wife's grief: and off they went, full of happiness.

Soon after they had come down to earth, they came to a village where both good and bad people lived. A woman passing by stared hard at Son-eib and said: 'How can this be? This boy has my mother's eyebrows.'

She offered them food, but Hyena did not give any to Son-eib, saying, 'He is not a person, he is just a thing.' Son-eib turned away angrily, but the daughters ate.

While sitting by himself in the long grass, the boy caught a beautiful red bird which fluttered past him, and concealed it under his cloak.

That night the woman offered them the shelter of her house. 'For you cannot lie in the dark, beautiful girls, and boy with my mother's eyebrows.'

However, Hyena would not let the boy into the house, but made him sleep by himself in a tiny little hut. Hyena wanted to steal the two fair sisters, while the boy was not there.

After dark, Hyena went and fetched some of the bad people from the village and they set fire to the hut and burned it down with the boy inside, but as the roof fell in, a lovely red bird flew up into the night. Up, up it flew, straight to the boy's mother, Rain.

'Son-eib is dead! He perished in the fire, and his sisters could not help him,' sang the bird.

'Do you hear what the bird sings?' asked Rain of her husband. 'You, whose name is Flame, what will you do now that they have killed our son?'

A little while later, the good and bad people in the village observed a great black storm cloud approaching fast, and around its middle was a rainbow.

Suddenly lightning flashed wildly from the cloud, striking here and there. It singled out Hyena and all the bad people, and struck them dead.

A mighty voice roared out of the cloud: 'Do not ever again kill the Children of the Sky.'
And ever since then, the Bushman has feared the rainbow, and throw stones at hyenas.