ehrenbergii refers to Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, a naturalist who travelled through Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia and Arabia in the years 1820-25.
In 1911, the German entomologist Wilhelm Kattwinkel, while searching for butterflies, stumbled into a gorge. He asked the indigenous Maasai people what the gorge was called. They did not understand what he was saying and thought he was referring to the plants Sansevieria ehrenbergii, to which they responded oldupaai. Kattwinkel misinterpreted and mispronounced what they were saying by referring to the gorge as "Olduvai Gorge".
The Maasai have used S. ehrenbergii for antiseptics, natural bandages, rope, baskets, roofs and clothes. They were also useful for stitching and sewing as well as patching and repairing leatherwork. To make the rope, the leaves were cut, then taken and left to soak in water until the outer layer had split and rotted down which would allow it to be easily separated from the fibrous matter inside. They were then removed from the water and taken to a hard flat surface to be beaten with heavy clubs until the fibres were loosened. The fibrous material was then extracted, separated into strands and worked into cordage of various thicknesses. Fibres from the Sansevieria ehrenbergii were short but very strong threads which were popular when making slingshots
During the 1970s, paleoanthropologist Bill Montagne was working in Olduvai Gorge and became injured. He received treatment in the form of a natural bandage made from S. ehrenbergii, after which he was so impressed, he began pharmaceutical research.
Sansevieria ehrenbergii was also traditionally used to treat circular weeping sores with the juice squeezed out from a snapped off leaf. In years of drought, this plant was also vital in sustaining cattle until the next rains.