Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/86

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76 Some N'otes on East African Folklore.

A piece about half-an-inch long should be kept in the mouth and chewed. If he goes to the woman and says, " Toa ithini, twende kwa kadJii nzkuoel" {i.e. "Give your consent and let us go to the kadhi that I may marry you ") three times, biting the root each time, she will say, "■ Haya, tzvendc — come, let us go ! " at the third time of asking.

There appears to be a recognized hierarchy in plants — the baobab is the king ; the wazir is the uvumbani, an in- significant herb about a foot high with a very strong scent, much liked by Swahili women ; the kadhi is variously stated to be the myrrh shrub (called vmrr by the Somali and shilole by the Wasanye), or the msefu, a beautiful forest tree with a smooth, white trunk and seeds embedded in fibre not unlike cotton, but brown. (The Swahili call it the " msufi of the forest" — msiifi being the kapok or cotton- tree — Eriodendron.) The " village-elder " {insee wa vini) is a plant, called nikete, which I have not identified.

A kind of mimosa, with mauve and gold blossoms, called Dikiiigirl, is a powerful charm to ensure success in love, in lawsuits, or in any undertaking whatever. To procure the root, which is the necessary part, you must walk backwards towards the shrub, kneel with your back to it at a distance of a few yards, and state the services you require, adding that if they are not rendered satisfactorily you will lay a complaint before the Sultan (the baobab). You then rise and pull up (or dig up.) the root, bite it three times, and cut out the bitten piece with a knife. This piece is cut into little slips called pingii, which are threaded on a string and worn under the clothes on the critical occasion.

Another plant, called vitjca, which I have not been able to identify, can be used to " bind " a person, so that he cannot cross the threshold of his house. I think the root is used ; it is buried under the threshdid (at a time when the person is within) with a conjuration in which he must always be addressed as the son of his mother: e.g. Ali bin Somoye — not bin Bui, which was his father's name, and