In traditional Gĩkũyũ society, women drew water from the nearest river or stream. They carried the water on their backs in a large earthenware pot, Ndigithũ, or a sizable guard, Kĩnya kĩa maaĩ. The preferred stopper or lid for the pot was usually the Banana Flower, Mũkoro or Mwongoro wa irigũ. When the men began to work in Nairobi and other towns they brought to their wives in the village the metallic cylindrical 20 liter container as a replacement for the Ndigithũ. It had a metal twisting lid of about 2 – 3 inches diameter and the first thing a woman did was to throw the lid away and replace it with the Banana Flower. Even today in the village, the Banana Flower is the preferred lid for the 20 or 10 liter ex vegetable oil plastic containers that have become the new water containers.
It was eons after completing my miseducation that I came to understand the science behind the women’s Banana Flower preference as a stopper. As you squeeze it to tighten it, the inner juices of the flower drip into the water. After a week or two when it dries up the woman exchanges it for a new one.
According to new research, the Banana Flower is a power capsule of healing properties especially for women. Some of these healing properties are:
- Control of menstrual flow
- Strengthening the uterus
- Increased lactation in mothers
- Treats anaemia
Did the Gĩkũyũ woman in having such a watertight bond with the Banana Flower know of its healing powers? I think we can answer in the affirmative. Traditionally the Gĩkũyũ woman controlled her menstrual flow to a mere trickle using this and Castor oil massages. She could go through the magic for two days and sometimes just a day! This is in heavy contrast to the quagmire of the flood in today’s woman that sometimes lasts for 5 days with terrible cramps and pains. Of course we are civilized and have pads and modern diseases like fibroids to prove it.
When the so-called white man came to Gĩkũyũland, he wrote, “The Kikuyu native possesses nothing but a gross and ignorant empiricism exploited as he is by sorcerers, wizards and diviners and quacks.”
Today the vast Gĩkũyũ plant knowledge and wisdom has been well documented by the likes of Francis Mũrũga Gachathi in his Kikuyu Botanical Dictionary, a guide of over 400 plants describing their medicinal uses and cultural value. Gachathi’s Botanical Dictionary is indeed one of the ‘must haves’ in every Gĩkũyũ home’s bookshelf. It is the first aid in any health challenge in the home and a guide to good living and health. Another academic article by University of Nairobi dons published by Tang.Org is a survey of medicinal plants traditionally used for the management of human diseases in Nyeri County. It is a downloadable gift to the readers of this site. (Download PDF)
Yours truly, I Mũkũyũ, gathers all manner of herbs and using a modern vegetable juicer to extract the juice from Mũngei – Gallant soldier, Mũceege – Blackjack, the Banana Mwongoro, Aloe vera, Terere, Spinash, Kales, Cerery, and many other herbs. By blending them with freshly pressed sugarcane juice and ginger, we are able to make wonderful and healthy vegetable smoothies. In Mũkũrweinĩ, these smoothies are taken as remedies for all manner of ailments like joint pains, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and many more thus bridging the gap between traditional knowledge systems and the scientific knowledge of this age which has accepted and embraced these diseases as inevitable consequences of civilization.
The civilized Gĩkũyũ man today is frightened to death by any passing so-called virus from he knows not where. He is a slave chained and sold to the pharmaceutical industry. In every small village or shopping centre today in Gĩkũyũland you will see a little shop called “Chemist”, a sales outlet for Big Pharma licensed by a certain Poisons Board and embrazoned with adverts of all manner of medicines. You will also likely see Mũngei and blackjack growing behind the shop.
HOUSE BLEND INGREDIENTS