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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 Seven


: Continuity and Change in Emu Religious Belief and Ritual Practices

The delicate balance between tradition and modernity in Emu has resulted in a kind of cross cultural integration. This delicate balance contributes to the softening of the effects of the drastic changes to the religious beliefs and ritual practices of the people. Some of these changes and their effects are discussed in this chapter.

7.1 Continuity and Change in Emu Productive and Protective Medicine

Productive and protective medicines are medicinal preparations used in connection with diseases and sickness. They are believed to steer away evil forces. Protective rituals are performed out of the people’s response to perceived danger or even psychological fear of life itself. Emu people have a morbid fear for the power of destructive medicines. Dangerous and destructive forces could be employed by unknown persons at the slightest provocation to wreak havoc in their homes, families, and even on unborn children. Besides the fear of evil medicine, the people believe that natural forces can manifest their powers sometimes to the people’s detriment. Therefore, numerous protective medicines are needed to ward off these various sources of evil.

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