Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is There an African Mythos-Lovecraft Mythos Connection?

May years ago when researching a story I was writing that took place within the Lovecraft Mythos, I came across mention of a book written by Samuel K. D. Dikaniakina, an indigenous Christian pastor residing in Kenya. Within its pages, he wrote extensively of the cult of water spirits so common in African tribal religions.

Contacting him directly, he graciously sent me a copy of his book. Though I eventually canned the story I was planning, I read Dikaniakina's book cover to cover to discover some intriguing parallels between the book and H. P. Lovecraft's story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

When Christianity entered Kenya, it came to a continent where the indigenous religions possessed a multitude of ancient water-spirit traditions. Most African Christians imported their native belief in water spirits into their new faith, but now saw them as demonic entities. What follows are a list of parallels I have found between one of Lovecraft's most famous works as well as the worldview in Identifying The Dark Sources of the Aquatic World.

Shadow Over Innsmouth Dark Sources of the Aquatic World
Ancient beings "The Deep Ones" reside in water Ancient beings "Mami Wata(1)" reside in water
They are both male and female They are predominantly female, but males exist
They desire to mate with humans They desire to mate with humans
Progeny are hybrid monsters Progeny are hybrid monsters
They reward obedient humans with great wealth They reward obedient humans with great wealth
They live in vast underwater cities They live in eight vast underwater cities
Cities are physical and can be destroyed,
and will most likely outlast humanity
Cities are not considered to be in our reality,
but will one day all be destroyed.
They worship Cthulhu and other "deities." They worship Dagon and other deities.
Though acting benign they are inherently evil Though acting benign they are inherently evil

So seeing the parallels, one logically wonders if Lovecraft knew about the African mythology of water spirits and used it as an inspiration for his own tale or did Lovecraft invent his stories out of whole cloth and the parallels merely demonstrate serendipity?

I have posited the question to a group of Mythos aficionados and experts and asked them to post their answers below. Their observations should be quite intriguing.

If you are interested in doing your own research, Samuel K. D. Dikaniakina's book is not available on or through the Internet. However, he does extensively quote a Nigerian pastor by the name of Debo Daniel. Debo's book, The Water Spirit Kingdom, is available for free here.

(1) Other names other than "Mami Wata" are used for these beings depending on the country of origin.

PS: No, you cannot have my copy. This is like owning my own personal edition of the Cthäat Aquadingen and I will hold on to it.

1 comment:

  1. This ought to be interesting. HPL may well have known something about such traditional African beliefs, given how widely he read.