Unkulunkulu“the Very old”, very great and high one is a predominate figure in Kaffir mythology (Zulu and Xhosa). There existed extreme importance on the cult of royal or family ancestors among the Bantu tribes. It is the god of creation in the Zulu religion and Zulu Mythology.
These ancestors were intermediaries between mortals and the supreme god. The images of Unkulunkulu are that of the first man. The ancestor of the human race. Also of a demiurge, in so far as he is the son of the Unvelingauge.
Unkulunkulu means “He who exists”. He has creation powers from the supreme being. Also, he arose from a bed of reeds, so the ground, Mother Earth. He seems to have been the creator of the customs and techniques typical of Kaffir civilization
Even though he is recognizedas the founding ancestor, like many creator deities in world mythology, he is too distant figure to be a focus of worship
But as he a culture-hero, and benefactor of humanity, he also handles death. The legend talks about his indirect responsibility. He said to the Chameleon, “Go! Go tell the men that they will not suffer death.” But the slow and lazy Chameleon lingered on the way. This angered Unkulunkulu who sent a second messenger, the Lizard who was to tell the men that death would come. When the Chameleon finally got there, the Lizard had already been there. That is why men are mortal.
For Christians its meaning is god.
This myth is prominent among Bantu tribes, such as the Basuto or Baranga. It is about the idea that the Chameleon is one of the first living creatures. He has appeared before the earth emerged completely from the primordial waters. Since he had to learn to walk in mud he acquired a slow movement which caused the coming of death.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. “Unkulunkulu.” 2005
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965. p. 522
More about African Mythology