Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Woman with Grinding Stone causes Fall of Man

Suri woman grinding grain on stone in Tulgit, the Suri village in the Omo region of Ethiopia.
When I first heard this story, immediately I thought, “hey, wait, I know this narrative.” But this was a refreshing localized twist from one of Africa’s most remote tribes, the Suri (sometimes called Surma) in Ethiopia’s  Omo River region.

So the Suri account of the Woman with a Grinding Stone causing the Fall of Man, which elders often sing at gatherings, goes something like this:

Originally there were two people on earth, a man and woman. At the beginning, they had a direct connection to God with a rope that came down to earth. The man and woman could climb the rope at any time to be with God.  There was  only one rule: “do not to bring anything with you. Nothing. No possessions.” That was the system then, up and down between earth and God. 

One day the woman decided to bring her grinding stone on their visit to God. Hey, why not? She used it everyday to grind flour. When she started climbing with the stone under her arm, the rope crashed to earth.  First man and woman fell to the ground. Some say the rope was broken by the extra weight, others that God simply let it drop. Regardless, from then on the pair were stranded to live only on earth. They lost their direct connection to God.

My illustration of the Suri version of the Fall of Man.
I grew up with the Christian legend in Genesis chapter 2, where at first, Adam and Eve lived with God in paradise. When they break their only rule by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God expels them from Eden. Their direct connection to God is severed.

When asked how old the oral Suri story might be, the reply was always something like: “It is very old” or “Much more than a hundred years.” A hundred years in a culture with no writing is a long long time, perhaps the beginning of man time on earth.  Since DNA tells us that we as Modern Man walked out from the Omo region to populate the earth, I conjecture that this Suri story just might predate modern religions.  What if the Genesis story is just a localized version of the Suri story?

Suri-tribe woman with her child in the Omo region of Ethiopia, Africa.
 Look at the similarities? Whose fault was the Fall in both stories? Did the misdeeds of the first Suri man and woman or Adam and Eve, ruin it for all of the rest of us?  What about the idea of sin?

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