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Shadowland Mugumo Tree Legend Folktale

African Folktale from Kenya.

Shadowland Mugumo Tree Legend Folktale


A long, long time ago a poor farmer named Katimu lived in Kamoko Village Kenya. He borrowed a spear from a neighbor to kill an animal which was destroying his crops. 

He lay in wait in the field and eventually speared one, but it was only wounded and ran off with the spear in its body and disappeared down a hole near a scared Mugumo tree. 

Katimu went to the owner of the spear and told him that the spear was lost, but the owner insisted on having it back. He bought a new spear and offered it to the owner in place of the lost spear, but the owner refused it and again insisted on the return of the original spear. 

He then proceeded to crawl down the hole under the massive Mugumo tree, and having crawled a long, long way found himself eventually, to his surprise, in the mikeongoi shadowlands

Mikeongoi shadowland old woman
Mikeongoi shadowland old woman

The shadowland people asked him what he was doing here and Katimu told them of his errand. 

They then invited him to stay and eat with them; but Katimu was afraid and said he could not stay as he must go back with the spear which he saw lying there near the underground root of the tree. 

The shadowland people made no effort to keep him as it was not his time yet to join them and directed him to climb up the roots of the tree, and he would soon come out into the upper world. 

So he took the spear and climbed up the roots of the tree as he was told. With all his strength, Katimu climbed nearly four stories high and he at long last returned to the upper world.

He returned the spear to the owner and to his surprise could still hear the voice of one of the shadowland people, a old woman. As Katimu became mysteriously possessed; the medicine man could not account for it and dispossess him.

The spirit of the old woman who was said to have died mysteriously entered his body and the whole village rapidly became disturbed as she demanded to avenge her death, thirteen cows, two bulls, and fifty goats in the village be slaughtered; the order was implicitly obeyed, for anyone who refused was supposed to be killed. 

Gugoyo is danced under the scared Mugumo tree at night when there was no moon to honor the old shadowland woman's demand of the slaughter festival. 

If the Gugoyo ceremonies are not properly carried out, the spirit of the murdered old woman will go back to his village, cry out in the night like a child, and enter into a man, who will become as one possessed. 

The people will call out to him, “Who are you?” and he will reply, “I am the Mikeongoi shadowland old woman. “I have come because I have been abandoned.” 


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