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.


  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!

    • Thanks for sharing that one. Can’t think of any English superstitions involving brooms (other than witches ride them of course!)

  2. Ian Uganda,if a rat runs across you while you are on a journey.it is counted to be a lucky

    • I’m not sure I’d feel very lucky if that happened to me.

      Although we have rats in England, certainly where I live we very rarely see them so I think most people pretend they aren’t there!

  3. 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.

    • Never heard of either of these! Do let me know if you find out more about the coins and cotton balls.

  4. How fun! I’m not a superstitious type, but that’s a great story!

    • Nor am I, generally. Although I have been none to avoid the cracks in the pavement on occassion, oh and now I come to think of it throw salt over my left shoulder if I spill some. I guess I am a little supersitious after all! :-)

      • :-) Isn’t it funny how, when we stop to think about it, there are things we do that we don’t realize we do!

  5. 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. :)

    • How interesting! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some things we think of as superstitions are based on elements of truth.

  6. 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 😉

    • Thank you, that did make me laugh – one I’ve never heard of! As they say, better to be safe than sorry.


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