IN DEFENSE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE
Our ancestors are turning in their graves
Each profession, intellectual or manual, deserves consideration, whether it requires painful physical effort or manual dexterity, wide knowledge or the patience of an ant. Ours, like that of a doctor, does not allow for any mistake. You don't joke with life, and life is both body and mind. To warp a soul is as much a sacrilege as murder. (Mariam Ba so long a letter)
Amoi Petelina with one of her grand children
Our ancestors are turning in their grave.
At least I know mine is
Down at the compound still stands the grand fenne tree
Slightly bent over the now deserted birth house
I still remember running up and down as we gathered Chasmanthera dependes (lubowa) to make a decoction for the birthing mother that was just brought in ,
she had had a retained placenta and the following day she was able to go home with her baby .
And yet you say it is primitive, utterly harmful,
Our rituals are mortally sinful, they are ignorant and diseased.
My ancestors are turning in their graves
Don’t get me wrong, everything good can be bad too
Plants are powerful but they can be harmful too
The witch doctor that gives you the evil potion is different from the medicine man that provides the antidote.
When Zehneria minutiflora (kifo) is placed on someone’s footsteps,
They may not be able to think clearly.
And yet, the leaves of the same plant, when infused can be used as a bath to treat Bad breath and odor.
You should have seen the elders
Many joined the ancestors at 110 years or more
Not a single strain of grey in their hair
They walked with grace and vigor
To this day, stories are told about how the spirits taught them the language of the plants
And yet with spite,we call it barbaric and backward
Our ancestors are turning in their grave
But you should see the sophisticated one
The sight of her invokes sympathy
Her lips are red hot like that of a wild cat that has just dipped its mouth in blood
The skin so pale with the feet so swollen when she walks,
You can hear the sound of her foot steps from a mile away
When She sighs, you hear the horn of the train approaching
She sweats medication; the sophisticated one is a living dead.
I don’t understand her chosen way of treatment; they are way too complex for me
Just like I don’t understand the need for surgery to reconstruct the hymen
Or to do a breast reduction, when everywhere I turn
I can see Oxalis corniculata growing everywhere.
And yet ,she swears her lungs out not trust her life with plants
Our ancestors are surely turning in their graves
Don’t get me wrong
I have worked in the hospital
I still remember so well running to the third floor
And he was on floor and there was blood everywhere
Quickly we had our gloves on and on the count of three
Lifted him up back to his bed
My hand was full of flesh, his skin was peeling off
More like a snake moulting, the pain through his body is only second
To the eternal hell fire
An infusion of kazaana would have helped or even a ritual.
But you see that is not the way for the sophisticated
The hospital is a place for repressed emotions
Every morning we mobbed around like robots parting our lips to reveal the teeth
As the protocol so demanded,
In the eyes of the young you could the fatigue of old age
And in the eyes of the old, the desperate cry of a child
There was misery everywhere.
I saw it all, broken ribs during resuscitation, blood, needles
The moaning in the waiting room
The patients came in sick and left looking like zombies
If they didn’t die
And yet she says the rituals, chanting and smoking is primitive
My ancestors are truly turning in their grave
Don’t think I despise her ways at all
The complexity surrounding her decision is mind blowing
The amount of medication she has to take just to survive is beyond disbelief
That she is even alive, is a miracle
As said by the ancestors , “death comes from death and life from life”
How can the sterile medication she takes restore life? I wonder
The complexity of her chosen ways has left me with profound respect
For conventional medicine
And while it is true that many of us are most likely alive because of it
Herbal medicine deserves its place too
Show me any hospital that distributes good luck in bottles
And I will show ten plants, you can chew smoke, steam or infuse
Nothing is perfect and is not without flaws
All I’m asking for is a fair ground to play
Because how can a system designed to prepare people for death
Determine the fate of one that actually believes in life?
A poem by herbalist Anna Athieno (BSC)
A poem by herbalist Anna Athieno (BSC)
Takecharge of your health . health is wealth