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Traditional Medicine Making of the 'Emu': Continuity and Change

Kingsley I. Owete

As newer medical problems surface and existing ones appear to resist modern solutions, Africans are increasingly reaching for traditional healing practices and customary protective medicines. Using historical and phenomenological approaches, Traditional Medicine Making of the «Emu»: Continuity and Change investigates religious belief and herbal practices of Emu people. This documentation of medical practices of the Emu people of Nigeria in the context of change transcends the structuralist and functional perspective employed by anthropologists.
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Chapter One


1.1 Overview

In 1986, General Olusegun Obasanjo advocated the use of traditional medicine to dismantle the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa. In March 1977, at Benin City, the Nigerian Army held a seminar to which indigenous medicine men were invited. The aim of the meeting was to explore the possibility of tapping the potentials inherent in African traditional medicines, for military and defence purposes (Fabarebo, 1990: 3). Around 1987, universities in Sokoto and Bendel (now split into Edo and Delta states) States were employing “juju” men to solve what they considered as intractable problems. After the Vice Chancellor of one of the institutions was bitten by a mysterious snake, the school sought the assistance of medicine men to rid the school of snakes. In another development at Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma), the thieves that carted away the university property were detected and apprehended by the use of traditional medicine (Fabarebo, 1990: 8). In 1990, the news was widespread in respect of two undergraduate students of the University of Jos who became victims to ritual medicine. Unknown to one of them, a female student, her father had laced her with “magun alemaro”. This medicine is to make turgid the penis of whoever tries to have sex with her. However, the male lover decided to use his tongue instead (cunnilingus). The tongue and the head of the boy increased tremendously and then exploded. The above instances speak to the reality of the belief...

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