Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Zongo, My Real Life Experience...

Fatma Mansoor

Kongowea is on the main land at the North Coast along Mombasa - Malindi road across the Nyali Bridge. Kongowea is a big area with high population, the place host all the tribes in Kenya. This is due to the fact that the only big market in Mombasa is in Kongowea. The people living here are generally middle class there are rich people; the landlords. The houses are semi-permanent and of Swahili architecture. Four roomed house, two small rooms’ stores behind, a Swahili kitchen, a big corridor in between the rooms, a joined toilet and bath room. The space is used to welcome visitors, eating, resting to get fresh air during the day. The Swahili house has two main doors, one in front and the other behind. The Swahili house is entirely meant for a Swahili family. The design and space caters for their needs in their every day’s life, however due to economic constrains the rooms are rented out to individuals or families resulting to congestion. Sharing of facilities available e.g. the toilet, bath room, kitchen depends on the understanding of the people living there but in most of the time it creates havoc.

In 1996 I was living in Kongowea in a Swahili house, in one of the rooms. The room on the left side, immediately from the main door. The other rooms lived the people from the up country, some live with their families. I can’t remember the date but it was on a Saturday February, 1996 a day for general cleaning and laundry. I was going about my house chores, happy; I was in a good mood that day.  I was almost done at 3.30pm when I experience this sharp pain in my stomach, the pain keeps persisting and until I was very restless and cold not stand or sit any more, I ended p crawling down crying for help. Fortunately my husband arrived and immediately went to seek help to take me to the hospital from the uncle who lives just opposite our house.  Uncle Hussein (deceased Mwenyezi Mungu amrehemu) accompanied my husband to my place Mzee Hussein (Mwenyezi Mungu amrehemu amweke pahali pema pa wat wema Inshaallah) looked at me, examine me for sometime for about 5 – 7 minutes and finally he open up and said “THIS IS NOT A HOSPITAL CASE THIS IS ZONGO ACCORDING TO THE BEHAVIOR THAT I SEE” this was my first time to hear the word zongo and its was a big vocabulary to me.  

Mzee Hussein then asked my husband to go to the nearby bush to get tunguja mwitu and collect small stones to perform the zongo exercise.

My husband returned with the items and the zongo exercise was performed immediately. The foam was applied all over my body almost three times and within half an hour I was okay and standing with my two feet again. Amazing!!!
After the zongo exercise mzee Hussein asked him again to go to the bush and get Mnuko uvundo leaves. On his return he asked him to mix up the leaves and water and squeeze the green leafs to the juice add a little salt to taste and give it to her.  He said the plant is good medicine for the stomach ache, gastric, flu, and chest pain and above all it also also protect one from the evil eye.

The story is based on my true personal experience that happened way back two decades ago, and because I got married to a Digo to be precise the indigenous knowledge has helped me all along.  I use mnuko uvundo in my daily life. Especially when I give birth I use the leaves of mnuko uvundo to birth my child, I used it also as medicine to relieve stomach ache pain to my newly baby born, to protect them from evil eyes. The traditional knowledge does work wonders and I believe in it.

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