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X-files From The Village

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Our village like all the villages surrounding it is much dependent on nature. We depend on the rains and soils for food, it is our livelihood; and we know of what value the trees are to us. Almost every tree is medicine to one disease or the other. Even some wild plants form a good part of useful herbs. Plants such as nabululu is used as brooms. When a bundle of nabululu is tied together and left to dry for some time, no broom can ever come closer to it.


Nabululu, just as its name suggests is a bitter plant that grows around homes and in the wilderness. Apart from working as brooms, it is also used to treat stomach ache and mild fevers especially among the children. It is also used as a pesticide, spread against crops such as beans and groundnuts. It is believed that the bitterness is what makes it heal such sicknesses and kill pastes. For very high fevers especially among the elders, we use kumururutsa. It is also very bitter, the moment you take it, fever goes away immediately but it is not advisable among very young children.

Whenever kumururutsa is administered, it is also advisable that one sweats off the fever. So what happens; water is boiled and poured into a basin (kalaya). The sick person is enclosed with the steaming water normally with a blanket or bed sheet. If you come out and the fever refuses to heal, you are then referred to the hospital or traditional doctor.


Most tree roots are used as herbal medicine that treat many diseases and complications; kumukombe is for treating infertility and other herbs that we shall know of later as we progress. After all, every disease has its specialist in the village although everyone can treat common fevers and other simple illnesses. Some medicinemen keep secret their medicine so that when they die, they can only pass this knowledge to their kinsfolk. Mzee Asuman knows medicine that treats all teeth problems but to get his medicine, you must take for him a young hen that has never laid eggs before; it is called “isenyi”. He tells you to sit and wait for him as he goes to the nearby bush then returns with the medicine.


But there are times when the herbs refuse and we use asprin. There are also some tablets whose names we do not even know but for us, any round tablet can heal anything and a dose is not a problem. When two people fall sick at a go, we break one tablet into two and they share!


When the rains return, a lot comes our way; we know that grass will grow but also we await tsiswa called “tsingalabuyi”. But that is not the only type of white ants that we feast on; there are others such as kamaresi, kamaswanji and of course kamaabuli which are my favourite. These white ants are an important food to us and it is very common that sometimes when food is not forthcoming or when we don’t have the sauce, we fry the white ants and enjoy it with the millet bread. Then after that you will hear people say; “wakuulisa kumumilo paka kwola iManafa”. Literally it is that sound that one makes when swallowing a delicious food.


As delicious as the white ants can be, it is very important that you take caution and eat the right ones; for there are some types that are not good for people; butysabuubi. These are tiny ants that precede kamabuuli and for the ones who are not patient, you may eat them but they cause deafness if eaten. They are the ones that blocked Wabuswali’s ears that right now he can’t hear properly.


Being time for tsingalabuyi, Besimesi went with her sisters to hunt for the white ants. She joined a group of other children who were gathered in the football field of Musese calling upon tsingalabuyi to come out of their hiding;

She used a stick to dig into the soft ground and widen the hole for the ants to come out. She then placed her mouth close to the hole and started calling:

“oooooh ooooooh”



“uuu uuuu uuuu”

She bent and put her ear to the ground, first was a termite, then two ants followed. She picked the ants, placed then in a tiny cup that she had come with. After calling more times and getting only 5 more ants, she got an old polythene, covered the hole with it and repeated the calling and listening. By the time she removed the polythene, only 8 ants had come out. She picked those ones also.

She then put her ear back the ground to listen. One would wonder what she was listening to since tsingalabuyi do not poses wings that you would hear them rustle. This time she felt something on her ear but before she could hit it off, the termite had already stung her ear.

She then remembered that as she was coming, the first person she met was Natanga; “When the first person I meet is a man, I never find anything good”. She picked her cup and changed to another spot but in the same football field.

Till then, we shall keep you posted



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