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‘Punani fruit’ takes Lesotho by storm

 

Cover of the Punani Fruit
Cover of the Punani Fruit

Pascalinah Kabi

FOR Maseru street merchant, ‘Manthonyane Mohlalefi, (not her real name) business has never been brisker.

While sales of most of her merchandise – which includes “special” water and a Vaseline-like polish – have remained static, one product is selling like hotcakes. The product – a Chinese dried fruit popularly known as lengangajane – is popular for other reasons than its taste or health benefits.

Ms Mohlalefi tells a group of young women queuing for the product not to worry as she had enough to cater for them all. As if her customers needed any further convincing, Ms Mohlalefi then explains the “benefits” of lengangajane.

“This product will restore the magic between the sheets. It resuscitated my marriage, and that’s why I want to help other women struggling in their relationships,” she says.

Lengangajane, which is also known as “punani fruit” in South Africa, has been ascribed the mythical power to make women’s private parts tighter.

According to the fruit’s wrapping, lengangajane ingredients range from plums, sugar, dried tangerine, peel sauce, salt, lemon and food additives.

With a taste akin to that of dates, the fruit is imported from Chinese shops in South Africa and sold at a starting price of M5.

In China, the fruit is a traditional snack and is reportedly used as an old remedy for motion sickness and nausea.

 

Driven by the popularity of the product in South Africa and alleged effect, local traders are also cashing in.

Ms Mohlalefi tells her customers to eat the lengangajane and then drink lots of water.

“It will then do its job by making your vagina tight and also helps reduce discharge,” she says.

The fruit, Ms Mohlalefi emphatically declares, is a must-have sexual aid.

“I was struggling to please my husband sexually. One day, I met someone who sold lengangajane to me.

“Reluctantly, I tried the product, and within no time I had my husband wrapped around my little finger. I eat it every night I sleep with my husband and we are now a happy couple.”

Ms Mohlalefi started selling lengangajane in January this year, saying she had “assisted” many customers who were “happy with the results”.

Asked if she is not taking advantage of the desperation of some women to secure their relationships, Ms Mohlalefi is quick to stress women were “not stupid”.

“Yes, I fully agree some women are desperate, just like I was desperate to save my marriage. But that doesn’t mean they are stupid. We don’t force them to buy this product. They buy, and if they are happy with the results, they return,” she says.

“In any case, this is not unique to us. Have you ever seen a Chinese or Zulu woman struggling with relationships? They use these kinds of products.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a 28-year old woman also says lengangajane had “done wonders” as she is now in a steady relationship.

“I am not married, but I have good job in one of the local banks and drive my own car. My parents have been in a panic mode worried that I might not get married because of my success,” she says.

“I feel like most men I date are not comfortable with my success. I couldn’t hold down a steady relationship.”

She says her friends introduced her to a woman who sells the “stuff”.

“Since I started using the stuff, I now have a stable boyfriend. It really works,” she says.

However, medical doctor Mojalefa Bulane begs to differ, saying no amount of fruit or muti was going to change a woman’s private parts. According to Dr Bulane, the vagina is a lot like an elastic, stretching and contracting but resuming its normal size and shape after sex or childbirth.

“Nothing can help tighten the vagina which opens up for a 10 centimetre head of a child and still goes back to its original size,” he says.

“The vagina is elastic. It effortlessly goes back to its original size after birth or sex. This “punani fruit” is just another money-making gimmick feeding off women’s desires for a better sex life.”

Gynaecologist, Dr Hassan Elhag, echoes the sentiment, saying such herbs had side effects in the long-term.

“I have heard about this story of women taking some herbs to tighten their vaginal muscles, but there is nothing of that sort medically,” says Dr Elhag.

“What happens is those herbs change the structure of the vagina and its cells. I strongly advise women against taking these herbs as they can negatively affect their health in the long run.”

For her part, popular famo musician Puseletso Seema says eating lengangajane is pointless as long as a woman doesn’t know how to satisfy her husband.

As Lesotho joins the rest of the African continent in celebrating Women’s Month, Ms Seema says it is important for women to know their worth and stop being taken for a ride by sex portent merchants.

“You can have all the tricks in bed, but sex alone cannot sustain a marriage. There are a lot of things involved in keeping a marriage intact,” she says.

“Such issues should remain women’s secrets and should be shared behind closed doors during Pitiki.”

Pitiki is a traditional gathering in which women meet regularly to discuss ways to keep their marriages intact and build happy homes.

“I have tasted that lengangajane, and while I can’t dispute people’s beliefs, I strongly feel it is just a money-making scheme by traders preying on some women’s desperation.”

Ms Seema says Basotho women needed to stop shunning traditional practices such as Pitiki which she says could address some of their problems.

“While nowadays women are getting educated and financially-independent, they are slowly losing their touch in their own homes and most of them are actually not happy in their marriages,” she says.

“This is why you see the mushrooming of many products and so-called doctors claiming to help women secure their marriages or relationships.”

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