What if the fox had a friend? Folklore from around the world informs us that this friend to the fox would sure as day soon suffer from the wily ways of fox. Like in the Bukusu proverb: Kumukhuyu kwasinya enjusi; it hasn’t been any different for the kumukhuyu/ omukhuyu tree; a tree of cultural significance among the Luhya.
Kumukhuyu tree is a beautiful tree that gives a characteristic whole year round shade. In the bible, Jesus met Zacheus when Zacheus perched on top of a tree of this family. I picture a piggish, stunted fellow atop a humongous tree, shouting: “Jesus, Son of Nazareth!”
Quick Facts On Kumukhuyu Tree
|Scientific Name||Scientific name: Ficus sycomorus. Common name: Sycamore tree|
|Local Names||Bukusu (Kumukhuyu), Tachoni (Omukhuyu), Teso (Eborborei, Eduri).|
|Identifiable features||A big trunk with oddly thin branches.Evergreen. Huge trees that colonize habitats and also support life.|
Kumukhuyu Teaches Us The virtue of Generosity
The Bible story serves to symbolize how the Kumukhuyu tree isn’t a glutton. It allows smaller bushes, climbers and shrubs to grow under it enabling one to scale it. Its ability to define a habitat has made many villages be known by it – like mukhuyu village in Bungoma and others across Kakamega county and even eastern Uganda.
Even today, you will come across bus stops named amukhuyu in Bungoma county. Also, in the outskirts of Eldoret town along the Nairobi-Uganda highway. One is up the road towards Nairobi from Moi University Annex, School of law. I also believe, the other mti moja bus stop in Eldoret – along the same road but on the other side of town in the vicinity of Moi University Pipeline campus is named so thanks to kumukhuyu trees that once inhabited the spots.
The Bukusu proverb of the ungrateful fox
Kumukhuyu bears small red-orange berry like fruits that need tact to be eaten. First, they are only consumed when fully ripe. Secondly, you must only eat the ectoderm as the endoderm is made of seeds that allows insects to thrive within, without spoiling the fruit.
Besides the fruits acting as obvious attractants to other life forms, the kumukhuyu tree also allows bushes, shrubs and climbers to grow under it. With this, it acts as a perfect foil for predators. Foxes particularly, love the Kumukhuyu tree to boot.
Foxes use the bushes to waylay prey. They also hide their loot in the bushes and in the tree’s hollow – the ekhombe. In all that, despite the benefits of this tree to the ways of the fox, Bukusu folklore is that the fox and the Kumukhuyu tree do fall out. And when that happens, the fox will defecate under the tree’s shade. As a result, the Bukusu saying: Kumukhuyu kwasinya enjusi is used to tell off forgetful types with the ungrateful, wily ways of the fox.
Source of honey
The ekhombe of mukhuyu trees are also used by bees as hives. The Kumukhuyu tree continues to give by bestowing surrounding communities with eternal rights to honey.