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Rumpole and She Who Must Be Obeyed.

The wife of every English lawyer (behind her back at least) has at one time or another been referred to as 'She who must be obeyed.' This of course comes from Mr Rumpole of the Old Bailey, the series written by John Mortimer QC, now (July August 2005) being repeated on ITV3.

I had thought that the phrase was one Mortimer had made up. It turns out that I was wrong, and here is a glorious piece of trivia.

The phrase 'she who must be obeyed' was originally a description in Rider Haggard's 'She'. It described the ancient sorceresses who were queens in the story.

Haggard based his sorceress on the Rain Queen tradition of South Africa. In North Eastern South Arica is a province of some 150 villages called Ga-Modjadji. The rulers of these people, the Balobedu, were always queens.

In the sixteenth century, the daughter of the Karanga kingdom became pregnant by her brother. The King gave her magical rain-making powers, and she took the name Modjadji, meaning 'Ruler of the Day' The queens live in seclusion and are gorbidden to marry. A man of royal blood is provided for them to continue the lineage.

How do I know this? The interesting bit comes from the obituary of Queen Makobo Modjadji VI, Rain Queen, who died on June 12 2005.

It is a long way from there to Rumpole.

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18 October 2013 503 18 October 2013