A black cat and a blue flip-flop

Last December when I visited the small West African country, The Gambia, I enjoyed a wonderful morning learning how to cook a traditional Gambian meal with the charismatic Ida in her family home. By lunchtime the smells from the cooking pot were driving us all to distraction and we were eager to tuck in to the feast we had helped prepare.

As we settled down on to the rugs that had been laid down on Ida’s patio I noticed a blue flip-flop nailed to a tree beside me. Curious!

Each country I have ever visited has its own set of customs and beliefs, some similar to those found in other countries and some that are unique to that particular country. For instance, in some countries, including Britain, it is believed to be good luck for a black cat to cross your path while in others, including The Gambia, it is very unlucky. I wondered if this flip-flop was to do with a local superstition.

When Ida joined us we immediately asked her and laughing she explained that it is believed that if you found a flip-flop on the street, brought it home and nailed it to a tree that had stopped bearing fruit, the tree would then start producing fruit again. She had always thought the custom ridiculous, however, when her prized avocado tree stopped bearing fruit she thought that she had nothing to lose and gave it a try. The next season, much to her surprise, the tree produced more fruit than it ever had before and has done ever since.

I’d love to hear from you if you know of any similar superstitions to this or if you have a favourite one you keep or a funny one you have heard of.

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13 comments on “A black cat and a blue flip-flop
  1. Hadn’t heard of that one before! I could write a thesis on superstitions in India, but off the cuff – Seeing a broom on your way out of the house is thought to assure bad luck!

  2. Since I’ve been in real estate for several decades, the superstitition I’m familiar with is burying a statue of St. Joseph in the front yard when you’re selling your house. Supposedly your house will sell faster, for more money, and with fewer problems during escrow.

    Just a couple of days ago, the house I was inspecting had money and cotton balls placed on all the window sills. It was an Asian family selling the home. I haven’t had a chance to do the research to find out what coins and cotton balls mean.

  3. Not exactly superstition but a friend (who studied agro-science) told us that making small cuts on the trunk of a jackfruit tree would make it bear fruit. He was right. Maybe nailing the flipflop (or any other thing) operates on the same principle, hmm.
    Makes me think that there really is something behind the folk wisdom that we sometimes mistake for superstition. :)

  4. Hi Kat
    How funny? Must remember this one just in case…

    I lived in Germany for nearly 3 years. There, when you drink beer and you say cheers (or Prost!) you have to look people in the eye as you say it or you will apparently have 7 years bad sex :-)
    Not so sure about this one but you just don’t want to risk it ;-)

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