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The Swahili Roses I Know

Growing up flowers were a major part of our lives and I started seeing roses as young as I could remember. The smell of the roses was unique, just one rose inside a room would fragrance the whole room and you don’t have to place the rose under your nose to smell it.

When I went to high school I got introduced to another family of roses which looked beautiful than the ones my mom used to bring home. The petals were firm and the colors were rich but had no smell at all. Even when I placed the rose under my nose still could not get any smell and that
was a turn off for me. I was very disappointed and wondered what is the point of having a rose that does not smell like a rose?

When I was young my mom used to buy a small bouquet of flowers, very small if you compare to the modern bouquets, but the smell was very strong. The bouquet of flowers consisted of jasmine, roses, viluwa and mrehani leaves. All these flowers are left to grow naturally without interference by humans to alter their growth or natural appearances. Believe me you only need a plateful of flowers to fragrance your whole house. These flowers have very strong beautiful smell especially the viluwa flowers.

The traditional Swahili bouquet known as kikuba or shada consists of the above flowers arranged and stitched together in a thread using needle. These bouquets are normally placed inside the house to freshen the smell; could be in the living area or bedroom. Also during celebrations they are pinned on men’s coat or on one shoulder of the women's dress. During weddings, it is a must for the bride and groom to have a flower necklace arrangement known as koja that is placed around their necks during the celebrations. Most of the time it is a family friend who opts to bring the necklace as a present during the wedding.

If you make a big bouquet like the modern ones from the flowers that we use, you will not be able to sit in the house because the smell will be so strong and overwhelming for anyone to tolerate.

I don’t know what happened or who decided that the natural growing flowers are not good enough and decided to create the artificial ones which beat the purpose of flowers, but surely they missed the biggest point of flowers which is smell. When I say artificial I don’t mean the silk or plastic ones but the ones that are natural but have been scientifically modified.

If you have the original roses, you don’t need your house to be full of them, just a couple will fill your house and emotions with unique satisfying relaxing fragrance for at least 24 hours.


  1. Sunny Day said...:

    I agree completely. So many hybridizes got for looks, double blooms, larger blossoms, etc. and forget that a pleasing aroma or fragrance is as important.

  1. Dirishani said...:

    That is exactly my point, things were good the way they were before. They were already made for us all we had to do is use then wisely.

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