Anselm Adodo, OSB, the renowned monk and healer was right when he said;
“The most subtle and fierce war to be fought in Africa is war against poverty of the mind. Until this war is fought and won, Africans will continue to lose all other wars.”
He went further to quote a African author, Bindanda M’pia who gave the following illustrations of the poverty of mind that is ravaging Africa in his book titled Natural Medicine in the Tropics.
• High quality cattle are taken to the city, tins containing corned beef of poor quality are brought back to the village.
• A mother sells nutritious cassava flour for her child attending secondary school prefers biscuits.
• To buy milk powder, the father has to cut down rare wood grown in thousand years and burn it into charcoal.
• Precious bee wax is thrown away after honey is harvested. Shoe polish containing poor artificial wax is imported and sold at a high price .
• Cheap but precious palm-oil is transported to the city and from there to Europe, where a particularly expensive soap is made from it. From there it is transported to Africa and sold at a price one can hardly afford, because it contains ‘Tropical oil’.
• Peanuts are exported to import cosmetics made of peanuts.
• A malnourished child is looking forward to eating three eggs found in the hen’s den, but the father has sold them to buy a bottle of Coke.
• While the children are playing football with an unripe orange, the mother is plundering the family’s cashbox to buy a ‘restorative syrup’ which contains water, sugar, many food colouring and a little “orange flavour”.
Funny scenarios, you’ll say.
Let’s become original, let’s become indigenous in our thinking and lifestyles; let’s value what are uniquely ours.
Many cosmetic products as well as culinary items employed by our grand parents in their days for healing, beautification and cuisine are fast making royal come back in our homes, markets and industries.
But must we wait for, seek approval from and get the nod to proceed from the white man before we embrace what sustained our progenitors and contributed to their quality living for millennia?
The list of these age-long natural home items is endless, they include but are not limited to; coconut oil, palm kernel oil, Aloe vera, cam wood, medicinal clay, charcoal, rock salt and shea butter to mention a few.
In a way, the modern trend proves that the ancients had a better appreciation of nature’s gifts than the modern man with his supposed knowledge of the workings of man and the universe.
Check the labels of products on supermarket shelves now and you will be amazed at the new-found love of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies in including natural items once ignored in their formulations. Phrases and catch-words like; … enriched with virgin coconut oil, …. made with natural shea butter, …. contains organically grown Aloe vera gel etc. are not uncommon inscriptions.
We’re a blessed people with rich cultural and spiritual values, we must begin to reassess and reassert our values to tally with our God-given potentials. This calls for nothing more than to be, to simply be what we are, inherently.
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Dr Gilbert Ezengige is a licensed natural medicine practitioner, lecturer and writer on health and social issues.