Author Archives: bwire

The Descent of the Kenyans – Myth

Text: Once god had created the land, the sky, and the waters he went to his people atop mount kiliminjaro. He declared that his people were blessed warriors and they were to descend from the heavens to live in the land below. The people who descended became Maasai and Kenyans.

Context: “This is a common myth throughout Kenya. The first time I heard it was most likely from my mom but I heard it retold many times after that. I believe it that our people have a special power and connection to the land out there.”

Analysis: The heart of this myth is not in whether the story is an accurate representation of creation or whether the people are really a chosen people. The myth shows that the land the people live on is a sacred gift that they should be honored to inhabit. In addition it’s meant to give purpose to why the people live. They did not merely happen on accident but were instead sent by god.

Lake Victoria’s Guardian Spirit – Myth

Text: Long ago lake Victoria was a barren land devoid of life. A god was relaxing one day recognized the humans and animals of the land needed an oasis to survive. Taking such pity on the creatures the god began to cry and his tears formed a beautiful. Humans and animals from all over came to the lake and the god swore it would bless them for generations to come.

Context: “This is another story I heard growing up in Kenya. A woman who used to take care of me would tell me this story as a bed time story. A lot of older people where I’m from believe that the lake is a blessing from heaven so there’s a lot of similar stories.”

Analysis: The myth of Lake Victoria’s origin and its guardian are an interesting example of how natural phenomena can become divine. Since so many people and animals rely on lake Victoria it makes sense that its impact could be akin to a gods blessing. Oftentimes people will make something holy or a divine figure to give it a more physical form to give thanks to. The divinity of nature is typically humanity’s way of showing thanks.

Nightwalkers – Legend

Text: Throughout Kenyan villages there are legends of nightwalkers causing turmoil throughout the night. These nightwalkers are believed to be ordinary people who become possessed by spirits or spirits of people who have passed. The nightwalkers typically try to scare people by making noises and throwing objects.

Context: “I heard about nightwalkers when I was still a kid living in Kenya. The kids in my village would tell stories of nightwalkers yelling in the night. I remember my sister would joke and say she’d throw me to the nightwalkers if I was bad.”

Analysis: The legend of the nightwalkers is similar to the western belief in ghosts. It’s likely that the nightwalkers are an explanation for people attempting to play pranks or acting strangely. Despite this the nightwalkers may have some legitimacy as ghosts and possession are seen throughout various cultures and folklore. Regardless of if the legend is true the nightwalkers serve their purpose of providing an interesting story and a ward from children playing at night.

The Ghost of Camp Daner – Legend

Text: Long ago there were a group of campers who wanted to take a swim late at night. The campers decided to dive in fully clothed as a test of courage. But when they jumped in and tried to climb out a ghostly hand had grabbed their legs. Before any of the campers were able to escape they were pulled in and drowned. They say to this day the ghost still lingers in camp waiting to drown unsuspecting campers.

Context: “I heard this story during summer camp in New Jersey when I was maybe 10. All of us were sitting around the fire telling scary stories and one of the campers who had been there before told this story.”

Analysis: This legend seems to be your typical ghost story used to scare young camp visitors. Telling ghosts stories is an intriguing folk tradition that has continued for quite some time. It is also special in the fact telling ghost stories is a folk tradition in a variety of cultures and regions. Ghost stories serve as a means for people to bound and share emotions even if it is fear.

Water Babies of Pyramid Lake – Legend

Water Babies of Pyramid Lake


Long ago there was a Native American woman who had two children. She took her children down to the river to bathe them but they were dragged under the current. When she discovered her children’s death she took them to a burial sight to bury them. She cried so hard over her children’s grave that it filled with water and became pyramid lake. The woman then laid by the lake to watch her children where she turned to stone. To this day her babies can be heard in the lake and they drag unsuspecting victims down to drown them.


“I heard this story many times growing up as a kid and visiting the lake. Pyramid lake was on an Indian reservation so it always had some mysticism too it. I remember some of my uncles telling me the story while on a boat in the lake. After they told the story they threw me in to scare me. I guess I’m not much better than them now cause I use the story to scare my little cousins or brother whenever we visit.”


Pyramid Lake near Reno Nevada is often seen as a mysterious lake as it is a salt water lake with no outlets. The use of tears in the legend is used to describe why the lake is a salt water lake and its odd positioning without any outlets. The myth likely stems from the mysticism surrounding the Native American reservations that the lake lies on. Similar to the story of poltergeist and similar legends in which native Americans play a key role, the guilt of the actions taken by American settlers has led to stories of vengeful native spirits. Some state that the legend stems from the lake being used as a location where malformed native babies were drowned. All in all the legend of the pyramid lake water babies is another relic from the colonial Americans atrocities.