By Kamwada Daka Fred
This week, German radio Deutshwelle posted a question on their social media page about Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli’s suggestion that African herbalists can help find the cure for COVID-19.
Although most of the respondents were skeptical about the possibility of an African solution to the cure for coronavirus, there is a lot of evidence to show that it is highly possible for African herbalists to play a role not only in the fight, but in finding a cure for COVID-19.
This is mostly premised on the fact that before the advent of European exploration of the African continent, there existed health innovations started by the Africans themselves.
Despite the fact that Europeans considered Africa to be a dark continent, the Africans had a thriving and effective world of medicine that cured their diseases.
The African herbalists managed to deal with minor and major medical cases including child birth, surgery and healing of chronic diseases.
In fact, it would be foolhardy to say that medicine was first introduced to Africa by the Whiteman. African herbalists extracted medicine from roots, leaves and stems of trees. Africans also extracted medicine from soil.
Actually, pregnancies in women were easily managed using those soil extracts. This guaranteed safe birth for African women.
This safe birth was the reason why the Whiteman found a fairly large population on the African continent. This large population was the reason why the Western powers found a big hunting ground for slaves in Africa.
This was because the African herbalists had managed to contain infant mortality rates within manageable levels.
It also proves that African medicine worked so well to contain very dangerous epidemics like fever and malaria which blossomed in African forests. The problem was that when the European eventually conquered the continent, they refused to recognize African medicine.
Why African population grew despite slave trade and tribal wars
When you look around, you find that the red Indians failed to grow their population because they were relatively poor in the field of medicine. That’s why they easily perished and surrendered America to the Europeans.
The same case is applicable to the aborigines of Australia.
Some historians claim that the red Indians and aborigines perished because of the advanced military might of the Europeans. Although that is partly true, it’s just part of the story.
The red Indians and the aborigines were never subjected to slave trade. This means that their population should have grown in massive numbers. How come they are almost extinct today?
Many African societies that have faced military confrontations have blossomed after defeat. Most African tribes were poached for slaves to very small numbers but the sustained growth in population.
In addition to that, African tribes were almost engaged in tribal wars almost all the time. These wars like the Shaka-Zulu wars, the Buganda-Bunyoro wars, the Shona-Ndebele wars, to mention but a few, claimed so many lives of the Africans.
You can also add the effect of the colonial wars of conquest that the Europeans imposed on the Africans which also claimed many lives.
In fact, history tells us that the imperialists had tried but failed to penetrate the African continent because of the various diseases that hindered their penetration of the African jungles. The mosquito alone was a big source of danger to the Europeans. They had to first find a vaccine for malaria to explore the African continent.
But there are no cases of a single African tribe that perished completely on account of the malaria and diseases together with the tribal wars or slave trade.
Instead the Africans regained their footing from the challenges of the 18th century and have thrived into the 21st century. This growth of the African population despite the adversities of slave trade, tribal wars and various diseases is certainly attributed to the unique and more organized African herbal medicine.
The defeat of African herbal medicine
It is important to note that African herbal medicine was defeated when the colonialists emerged and confused it with African witchcraft.
To date most educated Africans with Eurocentric tendencies think that African herbal medicine is equal to witchcraft because they were conditioned to think like that by the Europeans.
When you look at the medical challenges of the 21st century, you realize that the modern scientists have failed to live to their expectations.
Up to now the modern scientists have not found the vaccine for the Zika virus, the SARS virus, and the coronavirus which has decimated large numbers of mankind.
They are busy speculating that a vaccine (for COVID-19 ) will be found 18 months from now. This simply means that the earliest we can expect the vaccine for the corona virus is 2022. Should we wait up to that time, or give unconventional medical outlets a chance?
Certainly NOT, we shouldn’t wait for the vaccine from the European scientists; we should embrace President Pombe Magufuli’s idea that we try African herbal medicine. His suggestion is as timely as “an idea whose time has come.”
As stated earlier, African herbalists have treated more devastating diseases. They have overcome epidemics before.
When you look at the coronavirus, it’s not as sophisticated as, let say, malaria, that has killed mankind for years. Malaria continuously kills more people around the world than this COVID-19. Yet African herbalists have a herbal solution for malaria.
If they could find a remedy for medical toughies, how can they fail to find a vaccine for a respiratory disease like COVID-19?
Let’s give the African herbalists a chance to fight COVID-19.
The author Fred Daka Kamwada is a blogger , social critic and political analyst.
E. mail: [email protected]