LETTERS

HISTORICAL DICTIONARY
I am at present working on the second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Tanzania for Scarecrow Press. As I would like to include an entry on the Britain-Tanzania Society I was hoping you could provide me with some information about your society.. . . . .I would also like to know when the Bulletin of Tanzanian Affairs started publication as I want to include it in the periodicals list.
Thomas Ofcansky
Arlington, Virginia, USA

THE NAME OF A MOUNTAIN
Thanks to Mr Duff for his response to my letter concerning the Morogoro mountain Mguru (ya) ndege. I should like to know more about the ‘upupu’ (macuna bean) which deterred people from hillwalking In the Morogoro region. Could this plant be the source of the penetrating thorns which dogged our ascent and which are still embedded in my hiking socks to this day?

It was intriguing to learn the local belief that Mindu was the home of a large snake. My ascent of Mindu in 1992 revealed no such serpent but future climbers should not assume that there are no snakes on this mountain. My father and colleagues at Sokoine University reported a number of species of snakes on and around her slopes and indeed, from time to time, reptiles found at the university were released there. Perhaps your readers could also throw light on the name ‘mafiga’, a village not far from Mindu and my parents’ home from 1991-93. We learned two theories as to how it earned this name which in Kiswahili means the three stones for supporting a cooking pot. First, the village was said to be a popular place for collecting good cooking stones which did not crack in the heat of a fire. Second, it is positioned between three mountains (Mindu, Mguru ndege and the Ulugurus), each apparently representing one of three stones of a giant mafiga. Or is there an entirely different explanation?
Max Cooper

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