Homologous origin myths concerning the Tsodilo Hills in north-western Botswana, Polombwe hill at the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika in Zambia and Kaphiri-Ntiwa hill in northern Malawi are examined. Parallels are drawn between the myths, where, in the process of creation, a primal pair in undifferentiated space and time passes through a series of liminal states, thereby bringing structure to the landscape and legitimacy to society in Iron Age Central and Southern Africa. These myths narrate the instituting of social legitimacy in their respective societies based on a resolution of the inherent contradiction between the concepts of authority and power, lineage and land. The structure of rights to possession of land is examined, and the text considers the role of sumptuary goods such as glass beads and metonymic signifiers such as birds within this structure. This study examines the prominence of hilltops as the residence of paranormal power and its association with human authority, and relates this to the archaeological interpretation of the Iron Age site Nqoma (Tsodilo Hills); this is compared with Bosutswe (eastern Botswana), Mapungubwe (Shashe-Limpopo basin), and the Shona Mwari myth recorded by Frobenius as used by Huffman in his analysis of Great Zimbabwe.