Mphafa Tree or the Buffalo Thorn Tree
This is an African plant that is highly respected within the Zulu community. The Zulu community strongly believe that this is the only tree that can carry the spirit of the deceased. The Zulu community strongly believes that if a person dies out of his or her yard the spirit of that particular person will wonder around and trouble other people because it will not be able to find its home to rest. It is therefore the families responsibility to lead the deceased spirit back home.
The umphafa tree branch is used to lead the spirit of the deceased from the venue of the death (e.g. hospital or accident scene) to the deceased’s home. An elder will have to go the tree and ask for permission from the tree to take its branch. On the day the family choses to lead the spirit back home after asking for permission the elder who had asked for permission will no longer talk to anyone which means he must be accompanied by someone else. When they reach the place of death the elder who is carrying umphafa branch will talk to the deceased and call him by his name and surname and also identify himself. The person who talks to the deceased will actually feel the deceased climbing onto the the branch, he will then lead the spirit home and on their way home he will only communicate with the deceased spirits and nobody else until they reach home.