Thursday, 21 March 2013

Kadzora, a delicacy among the Mijikenda People (Agiriama)...

Julius Changawa. Principal Barani Secondary School, Malindi.

Kadzora is a Vertebrate, biologically classed in (Animals of All Countries Vol.1) as
A mammal,
 Order - Rodents,
 Sub order - Typical rodents (those with only one pair of incisors in the upper jaw “simplicidentata”,
Tribe   -Rats and Mice,                               
Family – Dormice.
Genus - Edible Dormice.
Species – Edible Dormouse

Kadzora is a rodent that is hunted for food; it is in the family of mouse (plural mice). Other animals in this order are squirrels and hares.
Popular edible mice among the Mijikenda people include;-
·        Kadzora – Small size, dark in color, lives on the ground but not much underground.
·        Tali/Thali – it is brown in color and lives in holes underground.
·        Kitako – mostly found in  tall grass and bushes.
·       Pinji – lives in forests, shrubs and bushy areas (only a few people among the mijikenda eat this type, some consider this animal to be a sign of bad omen 7 so never want to associate with it).
·     Kuhe – like Tali, but bigger in size almost the size of a cat especially if they live in habitats with plenty of food.
·    Kalaya  - they live in bushy areas, and create footpaths (murira) ,which are easily identified by hunters following their movements.
·      Tsanje – Elephant shrew – this species lives in forests ( one well know type is the elephant shrew, an endangered species in Arabuko Sokoke Forest along Malindi Mombasa highway).

The mice feed on carbohydrates, especially on tubers such as sweet potatoes, (cassava) they also feed on Maize seeds during planting or after harvesting especially on farms where maize cobs remain lying on the ground for a long period.

Habitat and Hunting.
The  type which lives shallow underground tunnels can be spotted by looking at fresh, finely dug mounds of soil, the hunters then trail the hideouts to park possible entrance and exit areas to enable strategic laying of traps. Usually, this clever animals dig their hideouts in such a way that if they are hunted they should have escape routes, escape points usually have a shallow, slightly curved surface soil layer.
The practice of hunting and gathering is regarded as part of activities that man had to do in the process of evolution, as a way of finding food to enhance survival.
Those which live on the ground can be trailed by following their little footpaths and tracking cuttings from leftovers of the various foods they eat (especially maize cobs) as well as trailing their droppings.

Hunting Methods
The mice are hunted by trapping as well as digging hideouts where they are suspected to live.  

Mice trapped.
 Trapping methods.

Various traps used to hunt these animals are made from locally available natural fibre so that incase the rodents attempt to gnaw, their meat still remain harmless to people who eat it.

Mr. Safari Ngira. Mice Trapper.
Muhoto – This is a funnel shaped trap, made from either Calabash or Baobab fruit shell, with coconut tree/ palm fronds woven around it (mbugu). A section with a pointed end for holding the bait (usually grains to attract the mice into the trap, is made inside the tunnel, a strap is tied at the base of the pointed bait holder. When the mouse gets in to feed on the bait, the strap delinks and the pointed bait holder hits hard at the neck, therefore holding the mouse trapped.
Safari's Catch.
Mugono – this is made by weaving fresh/green makuti fronds in a cylindrical shape with diamond shapes openings on the inner surface of the trap. It is waylaid for the kitako type of mice which move a lot at daytime, it is laid facing different directions on their potential footpaths. This trap is designed like a one way valve to allow inward movement of the mouse. Once the mouse is in, the limbs get stuck in the holes therefore restricting either front of backward movement.

Iliva – The name comes from the word Lever (a turning point in mechanical system). This trap  is made by reclining a piece of wood or flat stone propped on a stone in a way tht when slightly disturbed causes movement of the stone and flat fall of the flat piece of wood/ flat stone. Usually, the bait is placed beneath the flat stone, wood near the propping support, slight movement of the propping stone by the mouse in the process of feeding on the bait dislodges the stone which comes falling flat and trapping the mouse underneath. Kuhe is trapped using this system.

Kizimba – this trap is made from barks of trees. It is in the form of a wooden fence, with a trap (holding bait) at the end and placed in farms where crops grow. The mice walk along the fence leading them to the bait where they get trapped.
Kizimba and Iliva traps are fixed at particular spots while all the others can be moved about.

Digging underground tunnels – this method of hunting is usually done in teams, with a number of people positioned at identified hiding places, at the supposed entrance and exit points with either sticks with knobs at the end (rungu) or with a tough piece of cloths. The hiding holes normally are made in such a way that insects feeding on cuttings left by the mice create a nest near the mice nest. Any unusual movement/shaking scatters the insects, this alerts the mice of impending danger therefore prompting it to escape Those with sticks hit hard at the mice escaping while those with pieces of cloth, especially young boys skilled in diving use the cloth to dive and trap the mice.

 Cooking method
The mouse is roasted on an open charcoal fire to burn off its fur, then scrapper clean using a rough surfaced maize cob. A slit is made on  the abdomen to remove intestines before roasting like barbeque (kukanjwa) grill or using curved skews to piece and roast the  meat ( like mshikaki).
It can also be boiled in salty water till well done.

The intestines are also boiled in water to which lemon tree leaves are added to improve flavor. This is referred to as Ngenja and is eaten as breakfast, especially with leftover maize meal (ugali) from the previous night.

It is then served with Kiluma (clean drinking water, mixed with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste) then served with ugali.

There are no particular cultural beliefs attached to this delicacy, except that men, heading the family, particularly if it is them who went out of their way to hunt food for the family are served a bigger portion than the rest of family members as a way of rewarding them for a job well done ( Mzee wa boma mpaka  alege). Some people believe that this kind of meat has a high nutritive value with higher protein content than other meats, therefore enhances longevity.

There is a popular believe that presence of many mice in a season indicates possibilities of bumper harvest.

Story Team ( Mr. Julius Changawa, Mramba Thoya Katiki, Raymond Charo, Emmanuel Munyaya & Safari Ngira)

Mr. Raymond Charo. Malindi Museum Staff
Mr. Mramba Thoya. Malindi Museum Staff

Doris Kamuye: Librarian, Malindi Museum – Webb Memorial Library. Collected data, researched published literature about Edible Rodents and compiled the story.

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