Author Archives: Mistoura Bello

Urban Legend – United States

Bottled water in your car…..very dangerous, woman!!!!
This is how Sheryl Crow got breast cancer. She was on the Ellen show and
said this same exact thing. This has been identified as the most common
cause of the high levels in breast cancer, especially in Australia.

A friend whose mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The Doctor
told her: women should not drink bottled water that has been left in a car.

The doctor said that the heat and the plastic of the bottle have certain
chemicals that can lead to breast cancer. So please be careful and do not
drink bottled water that has been left in a car, and, pass this on to all
the women in your life. This information is the kind we need to know and be
aware and just might save us!!!! The heat causes toxins from the plastic to
leak into the water and they have found these toxins in breast tissue. Use
a stainless steel Canteen or a glass bottle when you can!!!

Let every one that has a wife/girlfriend and daughter know please.

Karen sent this message to me via email.  It was forwarded to her on the social networking site Myspace by several of her friends.  The message was titled “Warn all Women” and people who got it were asked to send it to every woman in their lives to protect them from possibly getting cancer.

The urban legend reference site has a few variations of the email on their website.  It has apparently become so widely circulated that it landed in the “Hottest 25 Legends” on the website.  The site contends that after all their research; they have come to the conclusion that the legend is false.  One version of the legend states that reusing water bottles will cause one to ingest carcinogenic compounds that seep into water.  Another states that the bottle releases these chemicals specifically when it is left in a car.  Some of the versions claim that a celebrity is responsible for the sudden public knowledge of the subject, while others claim that someone closely related to the individual visited a doctor who imparted the information upon them.  All of the versions that I read specify that the cancer in question is breast cancer.  One version went so far as to name the specific carcinogen, diethylhydroxylamine, which is produced.  A Google search of this chemical confirms that it is used in plastics, but there was no mention of carcinogenic properties.  It is also not the chemical used in the plastic from which water bottles are made.  That chemical is diethylhexyl adipate, which has been proven not to be carcinogenic in humans.

Annotation: “Bottle Royal.” Snopes. 25 June 2007. 15 Feb. 2008

Urban Legend – United States

Sad Wal-Mart Story

A sister and her brother were inside a new Wal-Mart. The sister at eight years of age and the brother seventeen years of age. The brother was wanting to buy a present for his little sister because her birthday was coming up. As they were about to leave, she had to go to the bathroom. Her brother showed her where the restrooms were and he began looking at earrings he thought she might like for her birthday. As he started o buy the earrings, he saw people running from the end of the store screaming and yelling with fear. In the next moment he smelled smoke and saw flames. He ran to his little sister as fast as he could but when he got to the bathrooms the fire was already blazing. He knew he had  to make sure help was coming. When the fire trucks arrived it was already too late. They assured the family that there were no survivors. Two days later the family got a call from the hospital. They told them that they had someone there by the name of Sandy. They asked, ‘How did you get this number?’ The hospital replied that the little girl had a purse clutched in her little hand with a card that gave her name and number on it. The family drove to the hospital to see their little angel. While they thanked God for her survival, they noticed her arms were burnt so severely they were both amputated and her face was burned and she needed surgery. The family didn’t have any health insurance and very little money to cover the bill. This family needs our HELP!
NOTE:Every time someone reposts this story, YAHOO will take $2.00 off the hospital bill. DO
Wal-Mart Story’. God knows who you are. Karma knows it could happen to you!

I actually received this message several times.  Janee forwarded this message to me on the social networking site Facebook.  She had received it from a friend.  The message follows the format of many similar email forwards claiming to tell the story of lost, injured, or otherwise impaired persons who will receive money for each time a message is forwarded.  All of these messages are false for several reasons. First of all, there is no way that these companies can track these emails or forwards because they do not have the technology to do so.  AOL also states on its restrictions/limitations page that it does not give money to individuals.

This specific email can also be found on the Snopes website, but it is still forwarded often by people meaning to be good Samaritans.  The money donated in the message has been attributed to AOL, Myspace, and in later versions to Facebook. It has apparently been circulating as far back as August of 2003.
Annotation: Mikkelson, Barbara. “Wal-Mart Fire.” Snopes. 17 Aug. 2007. 17 Feb. 2008


Superstition – Nigerian

“A woman cooking Moi-Moi on her period must twist a piece of foil into a line, knot it, and drop it into the boiling pot of water, or the dish will stick to the bottom of the pan, and the food will not be edible because it will not set.”

Moi- Moi is a Nigerian dish made from mashed black eyed peas, corned beef, onions, tomatoes, and peppers.  The ingredients are combined and rolled into foil.  This is then placed in a pot of boiling water for about an hour.  When the mixture is done cooking, it is removed from the pot and left to cool and set.  Afterward, it is cut into patties and served.

As a child, I often cooked this dish and several others with my mother.  Not long after I began menses, I was making the dish with my mother and she asked if I was menstruating.  When I replied that I was, she told me that I was to take a piece of foil and roll it into a wire.  I was to then twist it into a knot and drop it into the pot.  When I asked her why we did it, she could not give me an answer about its origin.  She told me that she learned it as a young child in Lagos, Nigeria from her maternal grandmother.  I later witnessed several of my aunts and my grandmother do the same thing when preparing the dish for a large family gathering.  I have not witnessed anyone perform this ritual when making any other dish.

After researching many superstitions involving menstruating women, I found several that relate to cooking.  These include:

– Fruits canned by a menstruating woman will spoil in the can

–  mayonnaise made by a menstruating woman will curdle

-Wine made in the presence of a menstruating woman will turn to vinegar

– Bread made by a menstruating woman will not rise

-Butter churned, or jelly/jam made, by a menstruating woman will not set

I personally believe that these superstitions derive from misunderstandings and curiosity about menstruation.  Many societies feel that blood is an impure substance, and the fact that most often when blood is pouring from an individual it means that an injury has occurred or death is soon to follow makes the process of menstruation unnerving.  This is probably why it was thought that unless some sort of ritual was performed to prevent it, a menstruating woman touching an item could contaminate or ruin it.

Annotation: Mikkelson, Barbara. “Monthly Taboos.” Snopes. 14 June 2005. 21 Apr. 2008 <>.

Superstition – Nigerian

“The menstrual blood of a woman put into a man’s food can cause him to fall in love with the woman who the blood belongs to.”

As the first born female child of Nigerian parents, I was often responsible for several household chores.  One of these chores was cooking dinner for the family when both of my parents were at work.  On one particular occasion, I told my mother that I was going to hire a chef when I was an adult so that I would not have to cook.  My mother looked at me very seriously and told me that it was necessary for me to learn to cook.  She told me that I should never hire a cook or maid because she might try to steal my husband.  She gave several means by which this might occur, but the story that stuck with me was of a woman who she knew who claimed that the reason her husband had divorced her was because the maid was putting blood in his food.  He was indeed married to his former maid, but I can’t really decide what to attribute that to.

In the realm of folk belief, blood is often linked to passion, strength, death, life, and courage.  Many cultures believe that blood (particularly menstrual blood) has curative properties, and many more believe that a woman’s menstrual blood holds the power to captivate a lover.  It has been said that a man who ingests the menstrual blood of a woman is bound to her forever.  It is considered the most potent substance for love potions.

These beliefs are still regarded as true by certain groups around the world.  Growing up in a Muslim family in a large city in Nigeria, my mother would probably never have been exposed to these ideas had it not been for the village children who attended boarding school in the city.  She learned this superstition from her peers as a youth.  Many who use menstrual blood in spells claim that the use of menstrual blood in rituals was very common before the fear of blood borne diseases arose.  They contend that one can surmise this from the root of the word ritual, because it is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning menses.  Other scholars argue that rtu simply refers to any regular order in nature.

Buckley, Thomas, and Alma Gottlieb. Blood Magic. CA: University of California P, 1988.

Sternbach, Ludwik  Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Apr. – Jun., 1978), pp. 195-198  <>

Religious Superstition

“Jinn reside in restrooms and one must keep the bathroom door closed to prevent them from entering the home.  One should also recite [“Oh God! I seek refuge with You from male and female devils”] when entering the restroom.”

[Allaahumma innee a`oodhu bika minal-khubuthi wal-khabaa’ith]

Afeez heard this superstition from his mother.  As a child he was frequently chided for leaving the bathroom door open.  He does not know whom his mother originally heard this superstition from, but he noted that he also heard it from a former ethics teacher when he went to a Muslim school.  She told him that the shaiyateen (Jinn who harm humans) live in the bathrooms of homes.

This very likely derived from the times when restrooms were simply holes in the ground.  There is a Hadith (a saying which Sunni Muslims attribute to the Prophet Mohammed) which states that one should not urinate in a hole because it is the residence of the jinn.  When modern toilets and restroom facilities were created, it is likely that the superstition followed from the former belief.

The wider belief in jinn as spirits that antagonize humans is an old Middle Eastern belief.  Many words, such as genie, derive from this and are used to describe spirits that can usually not be seen by humans yet can have an effect on outcomes for humans.  The Jinn are purportedly created from smokeless fire and have the ability to conceal both their physical form and truths from humans.  This gives them a great advantage which they use to create mischief amongst humans.

There are several classes of jinn, and they are responsible for various acts of evil amongst humans; however, jinn are said to lead lives similar to humans.  They are said to marry, have families, die, follow religions, and have free will.  The class of jinn that would reside in bathrooms is among the most abundant and longest lived.  Shaiyateen are said to dwell in deserted, dirty places, some of them are said to have been alive as far back as the seventh century.

Urban Legend

A woman stopped at a pay-at-the-pump gas station to get gas. Once she filled her gas tank and after paying at the pump and starting to leave, the voice of the attendant inside came over the speaker. He told her that something happened with her card and that she needed to come inside to pay. The lady was confused because the transaction showed complete and approved. She relayed that to him and was getting ready to leave but the attendant, once again, urged her to come in to pay or there’d be trouble. She proceeded to go inside and started arguing with the attendant about his threat. He told her to calm down and listen carefully: He said that while she was pumping gas, a guy slipped into the back seat of her car on the other side and the attendant had already called the police. She became frightened and looked out in time to see her car door open and the guy slip out. The report is that the new gang initiation thing is to bring back a woman and/or her car.. One way they are doing this is crawling under women’s cars while they’re pumping gas or at grocery stores in the nighttime The other way is slipping into unattended cars and kidnapping the women.

Please pass this on to other women, young and old alike. Be extra careful going to and from your car at night. If at all possible, don’t go alone!  This is real!!

The message:

1. ALWAYS lock your car doors, even if you’re gone for just a second!

2. Check underneath your car when approaching it for reentry, and check in the back before getting in.

3. Always be aware of your surroundings and of other individuals in your general vicinity, particularly at night!

Send this to everyone so your friends can take precaution.


Barbara Baker, Secretary Directorate of Training U.S. Army Military Police School.


Makini sent this to me in an email.  She says that she did not really believe the email but felt that she should send it to her female friends just in case it were true.  This email follows the same format as several other emails that claim to enlighten readers about new gang initiation activities.  A close relative of this email claims that a new gang initiation is to drive around after dark with their headlights off and then kill anyone who gives them a courtesy flash.  Law enforcement officers who are asked about this often stress that gang initiations very rarely intentionally involve strangers.  More often the members are required to retaliate against opposing gangs, or they are “jumped in” by becoming victims of violence at the hands of their own gang.


“If your palm is itching, then you are going to receive money.”

Sierra does not remember exactly who she heard this superstition from.  She suspects that it might have been a friend.  She grew up in Wadesborough, NC.  When Sierra learned the superstition, her friend claimed that either palm itching means that the person will be receiving money.

Other versions of the superstition specify which palm must be itching for one to come into money.  In some cultures an itching right palm denotes that one will be receiving money, while an itching left palm indicates that one will be spending money on something soon.  In other cultures, the left hand must be itching for one to receive money, while the right hand itching indicates that one will be spending or losing money.

Another girl in the dorm who overheard the conversation stated that because the left palm is the passive, or receptive hand, the itching of the left hand indicates that new energy will be passing through it and money is going to be received.  The right hand is the active hand and as a result it would be used to give money.  Some versions of this superstition go as far as to state that scratching the palm will reverse one’s luck; therefore, one should not scratch the hand that indicates that money will be received, but he/she should continue to scratch the palm that indicates that money will be spent.  Other ways that one would use to counteract itching palms is to touch or rub a piece of wood to transfer his/her luck.


Sleeping Ute Mountain resembles a sleeping Indian with his headdress on. He was a great warrior god who helped fight against white invaders, and during the battle his feet formed the mountains and valleys. He was wounded and fell asleep to help his wounds. He is still sleeping, but the blood from his wound became water and rain clouds come from his pockets. The changing of his blankets bring the seasons: dark green, yellow and red, and white.

Jackee heard the Sleepy Ute myth on a Navajo reservation in Utah which she visited as part of an alternative spring break trip.  The legend states that a great Ute warrior was wounded during battle while fighting the white invaders of the land.  He lay down to rest to help heal his wounds, and when he awakes he will continue his fight against them and take back the land that belongs to the Ute tribe.  A more complete version of the  legend can be found on various sites hosting Native American folklore.  This version can be found on a Ute website:

In the very old days, the Sleeping Ute Mountain was a Great Warrior God. He came to help fight against the Evil Ones who were causing much trouble. A tremendous battle between the Great Warrior God and the Evil Ones followed. As they stepped hard upon the earth and braced themselves to fight, their feet pushed the land into mountains and valleys. This is how the country of this region came to be as it is today. The Great Warrior God was hurt, so he lay down to rest and fell into a deep sleep. The blood from his wound turned into living water for all creatures to drink. When the fog or clouds settle over the Sleeping Warrior God, it is a sign that he is changing his blankets for the four seasons. When the Indians see the light green blanket over their “God”, they know it is spring. The dark green blanket is summer, the yellow and red one is fall, and the white one is winter.  The Indians believe that when the clouds gather on the highest peak, the Warrior God is pleased with his people and is letting rain clouds slip from his pockets. They also believe that the Great Warrior God will rise again to help them in the fight against their enemies.

Jackee says that the people she met at the reservation were mainly teenagers and that many of them believed the legend.  They told her that a time would come when the Ute awakens and they will reclaim the land that was stolen from them.  The sleeping Ute is still very much revered among the elder Ute as well as the younger generations.


Smith, L. Michael. “UTE.” 1998. 23 Apr. 2008<>.

The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 14, No. 55 (Oct. – Dec., 1901), pp. 252-28

Lullaby – Yoruba

Ronke nko O

O wa nle O

O sun jaburata si yara O

Ta lo ba wi

Ta lo na O

How is Ronke doing?

She is at home.

She is deeply asleep in the bedroom.

Who reprimanded her?

Who Spanked her?

This is a Yoruba lullaby that is sung to a crying child.  Abiola heard the song as a young child.  She is the oldest of six children, and she often heard the lullaby sung to her younger siblings.  She also has four children who she sang the song to when they were young.

The song asks about the condition of the crying child.  In this example the child’s name is Ronke.  The first line asks what is wrong with the child.  A more representative English translation is : What about Ronke? The next two lines state what the child should be doing.  The singer states that the child is at home in a deep sleep, which is the ultimate goal of the lullaby.  As there is typically no known reason for the child to be crying, the singer asks if anyone chastised the child or spanked her to make her cry.

The song has proven to be very effective.  Abiola not only remembers hearing it sung by many women as a child, and singing it to her own children as well as her youngest sister, but the song is still sung in her family, even by those who do not speak any other words of Yoruba.

Märchen – Yoruba

Ijapa Ati Aja

Ijapa ati Aja lo si oko oloko lati lo ji isu.  Aja mu isu ni won ba.  Ijapa se ojukokoro, o di apere ti okun.  Ko wa le gbe. O wa bere si korin si aja bayi:

Aja duro ra mi leru, Ferekufe

Bi O ba duro ra mi leru, Ferekufe

Ma Kigbe oloku a gbo, Ferekufe

A gbe wa de A gba wa ni isu, Ferekufe

The Tortoise and the Dog

The tortoise and the dog went to a farm to steal some yams.  The dog took a few yams while the tortoise took a basket full.  The dog left, but the tortoise could not carry his load.  He began to singing out loud for help thusly:

Dog, wait! Help me carry my load, Ferekufe

If you don’t wait to help me, Ferekufe

I will shout and the farmer will hear me, Ferekufe

He will capture us and take our yams, Ferekufe

Abiola learned this story when she was around eight years old.  When she went from Lagos city to visit her grandmother in the village.  At night in her grandmother’s compound, elders would sit the children down in a communal area and tell stories to them.  The stories were usually told in a call and return format.  This particular story has a refrain which is repeated throughout which the listeners can repeat.  The line “Ferekufe” holds no actual meaning other than to add a rhythm to the telling.

This story features the most popular character in Nigerian tales.  Ijapa is the tortoise.  He is the conniver in most Nigerian trickster tales.  The tortoise is always shown as conniving, greedy, and deceitful.  In this particular tale, the tortoise and his friend the dog decide to steal yams from a neighboring farmer.  The dog takes only as many yams as he can carry away, but the greedy tortoise takes a basket so full of yams that he can barely drag the basket behind him.  The word used to describe the tortoise’s greed “ojukokoro” literally translates to ant eyes.  It is an expression that denotes that ants often carry loads many times their size.  It is similar to the English saying that someone’s eyes are bigger than his or her stomach.

Abiola states that the story teaches on not to be greedy because even as the tortoise threatens his friend the dog that he will scream if the dog does not help him, one should be able to recognize that even if the tortoise attempts to call attention to the dog, he will only get himself caught first.  She says that one should take away from the story

that he/she cannot blackmail others to solve problems that one has created for him/herself.

Another version of this story can be found in a book compiled with Nigerian tales.

Annotation: Owomoyela, Oyekan. Yoruba Trikster Tales. University of Nebraska P, 1997. 83-86.