Jerry is our local ancestry expert, recording the history of countless Zulu clans, but now and again his attention gets diverted! Like this month when he wrote about the fascinating tale of the Umdlebe tree, popularly referred to as ‘dead-man’s tree’! Although it has many medicinal benefits, including being used to treat headaches, toothache and asthma, the tree has a much darker side to it – according to Zulu mythology the tree sends out vibrations that attract animals and people to it, which it then devours! Traditional healers who want to use parts of the tree in their muthi must first go through a ritual cleansing to protect themselves from the evil lure of the tree. They have also been known to bring offerings to the tree so that it won’t hurt them.
Click on the links below to read this story, as well as others that Jerry wrote during the month of August:
- Isihlahla Somdlebe (Carnivorous Umdlebe tree)
- Ukuthakatha Ngezilwane Zasendle (The use of wild animals in witchcraft)
- Umlando Wabantu BakwaKhumalo (History and clan praises of Khumalo)
Photograph courtesy of Khumbula Nursery.