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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