(Kigelia africana) The common name is given because of the large grey-green fibrous fruits which are often a metre long. The unripe fruits are very poisonous, but are said to be used in cases of syphilis. On the other hand, the ripe fruit, though not edible, is useful. It can be baked and put into beer to help fermentation, and the Tonga use it powdered as a dressing for ulcers and sores (Palgrave & Palgrave; Hobley). It can be put in cattle troughs, too, to guard against leeches (Perry. 1972).
In southern Malawi, the fruit is reckoned a protection against whirlwinds, for it carries a powerful charm, and ensures that no damage is done, if it just hung in a corner of a hut (Palgrave & Palgrave). Similarly, Kikuyu (Kenya) belief had it that if an evil spirit possessed one of the cattle, easily recognised by the animal's behaviour (shaking its head, tears streaming from its eyes), the way to get rid of it would be to get the animal to sniff the smoke of a fire made with the dried fruit of this tree (Hobley). The esteem in which they hold this fruit is shown in the way a piece of it is deposited at the sacred tree (Ficus capensis in this case), when a sacrifice is being made (Hobley).
A Shona witch doctor would use the bark of this tree in a medicine prepared for discharging eyes. He needed a spider's web, which he rolled into a ball, and put in water with various other things, including bark of this tree. In the morning, the patient would kneel at the entrance to his hut, open his eyes with the water, and wash his face with it (Gelfand). Of genuine medicinal uses, Yoruba practice is quoted. It is given as a purge to women "to drive the worm from the womb, and the root or bark is one of the ingredients of a medicine for gonorrhea" (Buckley).
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