Snake myths in Kenya

I have encountered snakes a few times. I live off a street in Kilifi called Bofa, which is the local name for Puff Adders. Their used to be many sunning on this road but as people have put up houses, they have killed them, you rarely ever see them. I always drove round them as I had a morbid fear that they would curl somewhere in the bottom of the car and attack when I got home….don’t laugh!

We once stayed in a house where the property owners actually had a water pond for snakes, to stop them going into the house in the hot season looking for water. I lived in perpetual fear of coming across one in the grass. Some people living in peace with their snakes, just bang on some noisy metal thing as they walk in the dark, snakes would rather stay away from us. I can’t blame them.

I gathered a few myths related to snakes a while ago. They do nothing to soothe my phobia but they are interesting.

Among the Kamba, dreaming about snakes is a sign that someone is seeking to bewitch you. If in your dreams, the snake bites you, then its believed, the witchcraft will bring you ill luck. If you are able to get away from the snake, then you are safe. If however you come across a snake or it comes into your house, then some really strong witchcraft has been send your way. The common belief is that you must kill the snake. If you don’t, then you need protection and that you will get that from a ‘Mundu mûitu wa kûita nyamu’. These special witchdoctors double as snake charmers. The will sing a song that will bring to them the very snake you saw. They will remove the teeth of the snake and let it go.

There are many folk tales about pythons. One common myth is that giant pythons produce glowing stones that they re-eat. If you get these stones then you will be rich. In some areas, girls are warned that if they see a python in the bush, they will be barren.