Africa is the second-largest continent in the world. Among its one billion inhabitants, more than 1,000 languages are spoken, and there is a massive variety of ethnic religions. In most African cultures, history and beliefs have been explained and passed on through oral traditions and storytelling. Many narratives deal with common concepts such as life after death or the birth of the universe, but they also include belief in magic, ancestor spirits, celestial beings, and an assortment of unusual legends that pertain to its animals.
Far from being seen as relics from the past, these stories still form an integral part of many Africans’ daily lives and are a testimony to their principles and beliefs.
To the Lovedu people of Mpumalanga, South Africa, the Rain Queen is a fundamental part of their culture and history. Called Mudjadji, the queen is said to be a living incarnation of the rain goddess. As she is the embodiment of rain, even her state of mind is said to influence the weather. The Mudjadji is also believed to be able to send storms to destroy the Lovedu’s enemies or gentle rain to nurture their friends. Every year, the Rain Queen’s powers are displayed at the Ga-Modjadji settlement during the rainmaking ceremony. The queens are all expected to commit suicide by poison at the age of 60. On that day, all of the queen’s rainmaking ingredients, prized objects, and incantations kept secret throughout her reign are passed on to her successor.