Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/85

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

Some iVofcs on East African Folklore. 75

was lying rather than disturb her. But I fancy the notion goes back to something older than Islam. Cats are never bought or sold — this might be on account of their small value, but I have been told there is a saying, " Ni Jiaramii kula ijara ya paka" — literally, "It is forbidden to eat the wages (or ' hire ') of a cat." The same notion is found among the ama-Xosa in South Africa, who say that " a cat is never sold, but always given away."

If the sun shines while rain is falling, the Swahili say "a lion is being born," Krapf mentions a belief held by the Abyssinians that a tiger (leopard .?) or a hyaena is born under like circumstances. The Wapokomo say, "the wife of the great snake has brought forth."

If a cock flies to the roof of a house, it is killed. Eggs laid on a bedstead {kitatida) are considered unlucky, and never used. (The Swahili sometimes eat eggs or use them in cooking — most Bantu, like the Galla, avoid them.)

Plant-Lore and Folk-J\Iedicine. — Many people have a very extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs, and a large num- ber of plants are credited with occult properties. One of the most remarkable among these is a small shrub with clusters of pale yellow, wax-like blossoms, known as Divntandovii, " attracter of elephants," and much in request by hunters, who take a pinch of dust from an elephant's foot-print, pluck a sprig of the plant, and, twisting it between their hands, throw it and the dust, with both hands, backwards over the head, calling out at the same time ^' ndovuV The elephant (there must ex hypothesi be one or more in the neighbourhood) will shortly appear and follow the hunter " as a cow does her calf," but he must be careful not to leave the path where he has performed the incantation. The same, mutatis inutatidis, will hold good to secure for a woman the husband she desires ; whether it will also serve in the case of a man, I did not learn, but a powerful charm used for the same purpose by men is the root of a white-flowering cruciferous ^^lant called kabilishemsi.