Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/83

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Some Notes 07i East Africmi Folklore. 73

As to other departments of folk-lore, equally important with the above, I must content myself with a few brief indications of beliefs and customs prevalent among the Swahili of Mombasa, Jomvu, Mambrui and Lamu.

Animals. — The harmless millipede known as jongoo, Giryama gongolo, is regarded with dread, being supposed to cause leprosy if it crawls over the skin. If one enters a house, as frequently happens, it is no use throwing it out unless 3'ou throw a stick or stone after it — if you do this, it will not come back. It has no eyes — once it had eyes but no legs and the snake had legs but no eyes : they effected an exchange when the jongoo was very eager to dance at a certain wedding, and — the snake refusing to return his eyes when the dancing was over — he has kept the legs ever since.

The little house-lizard {injusikafiri or ndikafiri) is killed wherever found by Moslem Swahilis, who usually bite its head off. The reason given is that, when the Prophet was concealed in the cave, this lizard did his best to direct the pursuers to his hiding-place by stretching his neck and making the gurgling sound — like the dropping of water — which is so perplexing to new-comers when heard at night in the thatch. However, as a pigeon had meanwhile laid an Qog on the threshold of the cave and a spider had woven her web across the opening, the lizard's treachery failed to attain its object.

A different account was given by Muhammadi Kijuma, v;ho said that when the Prophet was about to be burned alive by the unbelievers (surely a confusion with the story of Abraham and Nimrod), the ndikafiri tried to blow up the flames — hence its name = " it is an infidel."

A larger kind of lizard, most beautifully coloured in sky- blue and gold, which is occasionally seen running up the trunks of coco-nut palms, is called Kande, It has a habit of moving its head up and down when at rest, and is then supposed to be counting any people in sight, who will die