The Simsim oil is thick and is preferably used on mothers and child because it keeps their body warm. New born babies and mothers are delicate and their bodies are said to be open (Poles) and therefore it’s good to use simsim oil. Simsim oil has to be applied on the fore head “UTOSI” to protect the cold”
Apart from the above, also widely used by the Digo community as medicine and protection from evil eye are:

  • Mnuko uvundo
  • Tunguja mwitu

Khadija Baushi:

Khadija Baushi with her babyHad this to say on the above plants:
Mnuko Uvundo is a wild plant found in bushes and forest. It is small and green in color and the plant is very important to the community. It is mostly is used as

  • Medicine: The plant is used as medicine especially for new born babies, for stomach ache and also chest pains, the leaves are used to wash the baby and some is kept near the baby to protect it from evil eye.
  • The plant is also used as vegetables

Tunguja mwitu:

Tunguja mwitu is also an important plant in the community it goes hand in hand with mnuko uvundu.  While one can use mnuko uvundo to protect him/her or the child from evil eye, tunguja mwitu is used in healing in case somebody has looked at you, hear your voice and liked then it’s said (AMEPIGWA ZONGO) “Zongo” The Zongo is said to happen when:

  • The Zongo Person set an eye on you and  liked you
  • Hear  your voice and liked it

This also applies to metal things e.g. moving cars, machines electronic and even plants:
Interestingly with zongo the person doing it, happens to like you but without his knowledge he/she harms you.

Apart from Tunguja mwitu which is poisonous and dangerous also there is also Tunguja, a plant almost resembles Tunguja mwintu but the fruits are more oval. The fruits are used as vegetables by the Mijikenda’s


To human beings: once one is said “amepigwa zongo” no herbal, scientific medicines, or even witchcraft can cure the sick person. The diseases include:

  • Severe headache pains
  • Stomach ache pains etc.

The result of Zongo is death if not discovered early enough.

Metal items e.g. cars; electronic machines stop working immediately after the “zongo” act. It is only the people who are familiar and know about the zongo act can help sort out the zongo mazingambwe, but this again depends with the individuals if you believe in it or have an idea ya (mila na desturi)

Result of the “Zongo” act:

  • Written off machines and loss of property.
  • The machines are left an unattended for a long time causing them to rust and eventually declared scrape

For those familiar with mila na desturi usually applies the indigenous knowledge to sort themselves out of the mess and for those who are not familiar with the custom end up losing the loved ones and even their property for lack of ELIM U ASILIA – (Indigenous knowledge)

Application of Tunguja mwitu

  • Get the tunguja mwitu fruits from the bush (7) in number , small stones (7) in number and a big sufuria full of water

The above items are then put in a sufuria full of water and mixed (kupekecha). The mixture after the “pekecha” exercise form the foams (povu), then it proves the existence of Zongo act; on the other hand if the exercise is performed and no foam is formed then this proves that there was no zongo act.

The foam is then applied all over the body, or items affected by the zongo act. The exercise is done repeatedly till no more foam is formed. When applying the foam, usually the person performing it chant “if it is a zongo mazinga mbwe” let it go. The exercise is repeated three to four times a day to make sure the zongo is completely wiped out

Time, to perform the exercise: Unless the exercise is very urgent the time preferred is very early in the morning 4am – 5am and in the evening 6.30pm and 7pm


Kongowea is on the main land at the North Coast along Mombasa - Malindi road across the Nyali Bridge. Kongowea is a big area with high population, the place host all the tribes in Kenya. This is due to the fact that the only big market in Mombasa is in Kongowea. The people living here are generally middle class there are rich people; the landlords. The houses are semi-permanent and of Swahili architecture. Four roomed house, two small rooms’ stores behind, a Swahili kitchen, a big corridor in between the rooms, a joined toilet and bath room. The space is used to welcome visitors, eating, resting to get fresh air during the day. The Swahili house has two main doors, one in front and the other behind. The Swahili house is entirely meant for a Swahili family. The design and space caters for their needs in their every day’s life, however due to economic constrains the rooms are rented out to individuals or families resulting to congestion. Sharing of facilities available e.g. the toilet, bath room, kitchen depends on the understanding of the people living there but in most of the time it creates havoc.

In 1996 I was living in Kongowea in a Swahili house, in one of the rooms. The room on the left side, immediately from the main door. The other rooms lived the people from the up country, some live with their families. I can’t remember the date but it was on a Saturday February, 1996 a day for general cleaning and laundry. I was going about my house chores, happy; I was in a good mood that day.  I was almost done at 3.30pm when I experience this sharp pain in my stomach, the pain keeps persisting and until I was very restless and cold not stand or sit any more, I ended p crawling down crying for help. Fortunately my husband arrived and immediately went to seek help to take me to the hospital from the uncle who lives just opposite our house.  Uncle Hussein (deceased Mwenyezi Mungu amrehemu) accompanied my husband to my place Mzee Hussein (Mwenyezi Mungu amrehemu amweke pahali pema pa wat wema Inshaallah) looked at me, examine me for sometime for about 5 – 7 minutes and finally he open up and said “THIS IS NOT A HOSPITAL CASE THIS IS ZONGO ACCORDING TO THE BEHAVIOR THAT I SEE” this was my first time to hear the word zongo and its was a big vocabulary to me. 

Mzee Hussein then asked my husband to go to the nearby bush to get tunguja mwitu and collect small stones to perform the zongo exercise.

My husband returned with the items and the zongo exercise was performed immediately. The foam was applied all over my body almost three times and within half an hour I was okay and standing with my two feet again. Amazing!!!
After the zongo exercise mzee Hussein asked him again to go to the bush and get Mnuko uvundo leaves. On his return he asked him to mix up the leaves and water and squeeze the green leafs to the juice add a little salt to taste and give it to her.  He said the plant is good medicine for the stomach ache, gastric, flu, and chest pain and above all it also also protect one from the evil eye.

The story is based on my true personal experience that happened way back two decades ago, and because I got married to a Digo to be precise the indigenous knowledge has helped me all along.  I use mnuko uvundo in my daily life. Especially when I give birth I use the leaves of mnuko uvundo to birth my child, I used it also as medicine to relieve stomach ache pain to my newly baby born, to protect them from evil eyes. The traditional knowledge does work wonders and I believe in it.

Resident: Likoni Majengo Mapya
Age : 20 years old
A mother with child, 1 month and 1 week
Newly married

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