Mugumo Tree

The tree pictured below is known locally as the Mugumo tree, but other common names are wild fig and strangler fig.  Ancient Kikuyu tradition holds this tree as a sacred tree, because it was thought that spirits, especially deceased ancestors, dwelt in this tree.  Therefore, when clearing a field for cultivation, the Kikuyu will never cut down a Mugumo tree that happened to be in the field and thus these trees will often grow to be very old.  They are most often found where water is very plentiful, and they usually begin their life by growing up around another tree and eventually strangling the host tree, thus the name strangler fig.  In ancient times, ceremonies and sacrifices were often carried out under large Mugumo trees.  As an interesting note on this, the fall of a huge Mugumo tree near Mt. Kenya was used recently as a prophecy of Uhuru Kenyatta’s winning the recent election.  See this news article if you are interested: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/?articleID=2000079001&story_title=Kenya-Uhuru-win-fulfils-mugumo-tree-prophecy-elders-claim.  It is fascinating to me that the old traditions are still alive in many places.

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