The biblical story of Samson and Delilah is found in the book of Judges of the Christians’ Bible. The Lwanda Magere story is from the Luo community of Kenya. These two stories have some striking similarities even though they originate from totally different parts of the world. They are considered to be legends since they happened at at time in the past, that is, the occurence is not considered to be ahistorical as in the case of myths. Lwanda Magere and Samson, up to today, are still considered to be culture heroes of their respective communities.
One similarity between the two stories is that both Lwanda and Samson had superhuman strength. In both cases, the source of the strength lay in a secret which was not to be revealed, and this is another similarity. Lwanda is said to have been invincible and he could kill thousands of the Lang’o people, the enemies of the Luo, but he himself would not at all be hurt. It is said that spears would just bounce off his body and because of this, the people saw him as a “rock”.
Similarly, Samson is said to have killed very many Philistines, who were the enemies of the Israelites at that time. In one account, Samson supposedly wiped out a huge number of Philistines using the skull or jaw bone of a dead donkey. In another account, Samson was said to have killed a lion with his bare hands.
The other similarity between the two stories is the secret of their strength. Lwanda’s secret lay in his shadow. As long as his shadow was not speared, he could not be harmed even if a thousand spears were aimed at his body.
In the case of Samson, the secret of his strength lay in his hair. The story goes that Samson’s parents had tried very hard to have children but to no avail. Then when they prayed to God, He heard their prayers and sent a messenger to tell them that they would have a child but he was to be dedicated to God as a Nazarite, that is someone who doesn’t touch dead bodies, doesn’t drink wine and doesn’t eat forbidden food. Also, and most importantly, he was not supposed to cut his hair.
(To be continued)