|Mhamadi Khamis Makame|
Here is part of his description of kupigwa nyungu, ‘to be given a vapour-bath’:
|Crouching under a mat|
|Inhaling the vapour|
1. muwakikali, Horsewood, Clausena anisata (Willd.) Hook.f. ex Benth. (family Rutaceae).
2. mnanuzi, Orange Climber, Toddalia asiatica (L.) Lam. (family Rutaceae).
3. mchakuzi, Uvaria acuminata Oliv. (family Annonaceae).
4. mbaazi, Pigeon Pea, Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp. (family Leguminosae).
5. kivumbazi, Ocimum spp. including Basil, Ocimum basilicum L. (family Lamiaceae).
6. mpera, Guava, Psidium guajava L. (family Myrtaceae).
7. mchakati, Mallotus oppositifolius (Geiseler) Müll.Arg. (family Euphorbiaceae).
The last of these botanical identifications is the least certain: Heine and Legère (1995: 107) also record mchakati as Leucas sp. (family Lamiaceae) and Acalypha ornata Hochst. ex A.Rich. (family Euphorbiaceae).
|The nyungu medicine|
Ingrams describes the use of Orange Climber roots in a “Hadimu” (south and east Unguja) ritual for “Calling a devil for possession” that is somewhat different from the northern Unguja (Tumbatu) practices already described:
|Listing the ingredients|
As Hassan Gora Haji makes clear in his dissertation, the herbal steam bath is only one part of a spirit possession or healing ritual, which may also involve specific incantations. Ingrams also records a sample of these. I didn’t get another opportunity to ask Mzee Mhamadi more about this, and alas he is no longer with us, though I’m told that at least some of his medicinal knowledge has been passed on.
In memory of Mhamadi Khamis Makame, and with thanks to Adam Gray for sending me unused footage from the filming of The Nightmare. All of the images in this post are taken from that footage.
Haji, Hassan Gora 2018. Uchambuzi wa Nyimbo za Uganga wa Pepo Zanzibar: Mtindo na Dhima Zake. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Chui Kikuu cha Taifa cha Zanzibar (SUZA).
Ingrams, W.H. 1931. Zanzibar: Its History and People. London: H.F. & G. Witherby.
Kombo, Yussuf H. 2017. Jozani Natural Forest: Zanzibar Treasures in Wild (2nd edition). Zanzibar.
Legère, Karsten 2003. Plant names from north Zanzibar. Africa & Asia (Göteborg) 3: 123-146.
Williams, R.O. 1949. The Useful and Ornamental Plants in Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar: Zanzibar: Protectorate.