When I was younger, in my village, in some cases when someone had a high fever, the person will be given a hot tea with Lantana flowers (infused) to drop the fever; it was very efficient. Now, not all Lantana plants were used, there was a particular species of it… but I love the idea of using our own medicinal herbs for our use. So it is a mistake today, after having had the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus, or the Ebers papyrus centuries ago, to assume or act as if African traditional medicine is all bogus or full of charlatanism, and that the only alternatives for us Africans, are the pills that we buy in pharmacy made abroad in some laboratories in the Western hemisphere to address mostly their needs with no respect for our environments and realities. I am not saying to go out and cut all the plants out there, or not to buy drugs in pharmacies, but I am saying that African traditional medicine is rich, and we should also cherish and enhance it. I am sure there is so much that African herbs and medicine could add to the world. We just have to develop it, and to develop it, we need to start cherishing and valuing what we have, not leaving that to Western tourists on visit to claim to have discovered something that was ours and was there all along! African, start loving who you are, appreciating what you have, and enhancing what nature gave you (when it is good, of course)!

Lantana

Solar-powered electric cars made in Africa by Africans for Africans. I love these ideas, and I had to share with you. Check out the first electric solar cars made in Togo by Togolese for Togolese. I love the intervention of the company’s founders who talked about providing farmers with ways to take their harvest to the market efficiently without having to worry fuel prices. They make tricycles and pickups for the transport of goods. The rechargeable car batteries have an autonomy of 180 km, and the solar panel a power of about 250 W; inside there is also a mini-fan and a camera for reverse parking. I salute their work which is full of ingenuity, determination, and above all is environmentally friendly! Bravo!

 

La trompe de l'elephant

La trompe de l’elephant / Elephant tusk

La femme mariée est comme une défense d’élèphant, n’y touches pas (Proverbe Kikuyu – Kenya).

The married woman is like an elephant tusk, do not touch it (Kikuyu proverb – Kenya).

Kahun gynaecological papyrus_1

Kahun Gynecological Papyrus: Page 1 and part of Page 2

Today, we will be talking about the Kahun Papyrus, which is among the oldest and most important medical papyri of Ancient Egypt and of the world. This is a papyrus dealing with women’s health – gynecological diseases, fertility, pregnancy, and contraception; it dates back to the Twelfth Dynasty of Egyptc. 1800 BCE. It is a three page document, 1 m long and about 33 cm wide. The name Amenemhet III was written in the right upper corner behind third page name. The document was torn in places and patched with gum and papyrus.

Sobekneferu_1

Head of Pharaoh Sobekneferu. British Museum

It was found at El-Lahun (FaiyumEgypt) by Flinders Petrie in 1889 and first translated by F. Ll. Griffith in 1893 and published in The Petrie Papyri: Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob. The later Berlin Papyrus and the Ramesseum Papyrus IV cover much of the same ground, often giving identical prescriptions.  ‘Kahun’ is the name Petrie gave to the Lehun town site, which in 1825 BC had been a thriving, prosperous town; the name was probably a misspelling from this European in contact with a foreign language (see Abidjan). The papyrus had been so heavily used that its ancient owner had to repair it, with a patch bearing an administrative fragment visible at one point on the back. This gynecological papyrus originates from the Middle Kingdom (Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt) to the reign of the childless female-king Sobekneferu, whose interest in gynecology might have been sparked by her elder sister dying at an early age.

The text is divided into thirty-four sections, each section dealing with a specific problem and containing diagnosis and treatment; no prognosis is suggested. Treatments are non-surgical, comprising of the application of medicines to the affected body part or swallowing them. The womb is at times seen as the source of complaints manifesting themselves in other body parts.

Kahun gynaecological papyrus_2

Kahun Gynecological Papyrus, part of page 2 and Page 3

The first seventeen parts have a common format starting with a title and are followed by a brief description of the symptoms, usually, though not always, having to do with the reproductive organs. The second section begins on the third page, and comprises eight paragraphs which, because of both the state of the extant copy and the language, are almost unintelligible. Despite this, there are several paragraphs that have a sufficiently clear level of language as well as being intact which can be understood.

Paragraph 19 is concerned with the recognition of who will give birth; paragraph 20 is concerned with the fumigation procedure which causes conception to occur; and paragraphs 20-22 are concerned with contraception. Among those materials prescribed for contraception are crocodile dung, 45 ml of honey, and sour milk.

The third section (paragraphs 26-32) is concerned with the testing for pregnancy. Other methods include the placing of an onion bulb deep in the patients flesh, with the positive outcome being determined by the odor appearing to the patients nose.

isis-horus1

Isis and Horus: Mother and child

The fourth and final section contains two paragraphs which do not fall into any of the previous categories. The first prescribes treatment for toothaches during pregnancy. The second describes what appears to be a fistula between bladder and vagina with incontinence of urine “in an irksome place.”

To learn more about it, check out “The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus: Ancient Egyptican Medicine” by L. Smith, J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 37 (2011) 54. University College London also has an extensive page on the manuscript with its translation, as the manuscript for the health of mother and child.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 6, 2018

Praising an African King: Praise Poem for Mzilikazi

mzilikazi

Mzilikazi, Matabele King

Mzilikazi (meaning The Great Road), was a Southern African king who founded the Matabele kingdom (Mthwakazi), Matabeleland, in what became Rhodesia and is now Zimbabwe. He was born ca. 1790 near Mkuze,  Zulu Kingdom (now part of South Africa). The son of Matshobana whom many had considered to be the greatest Southern African military leader after the  Zulu king, Shaka. In his autobiography,  David Livingstone referred to him as the second most impressive leader he encountered on the African Continent. He was also the father of Lobengula.

Shaka-Zulu

King Shaka

The territory of the Northern Khumalo was located near the Black Umfolozi River, squeezed between the lands of two strong rival groups: the expanding Mthethwa empire of Dingiswayo and the land of the equally ambitious and much more ferocious  Zwide of the Ndwandwe. Mzilikazi’s boyhood was spent in the household of his grandfather Zwide. Inevitably, as he grew to manhood he observed the less powerful Khumalo being drawn into the conflict between Dingiswayo and Zwide.

IZIBONGO ZIKAMZILIKAZI KAMATSHOBANA

Bayethe!  Hlabezulu!
Untonga yabuy’ ebusweni bukaTshaka.
Utshobatshoba linganoyis’uMatshobana.
Intambo kaMntinti noSimangele-
Isimangele sikaNdaba
Intambo kaMntinti noSimangele,
Abayiphothe bakhal’imvula yeminyembezi.
Ilang’eliphum’endlebeni yendlovu,
Laphum’amakhwez’abikelana.
UMkhatshwa wawoZimangele!
Okhatshwe ngezind’izinyawo,
Nangezimfutshazanyana.
Wal’ukudl’umlenze kwaBulawayo.
Inkubel’abayihlabe ngamanxeba.
Unkomo zavul’inqaba ngezimpondo,
Ngoba zavul’iNgome zahamba.
Inyang’abath’ifil’uzulu
Kant’ithwasile;
Ithwase ngoNyakana kaMpeyana.
Inkom’evele ngobus’emdibini.
Uband’abalubande balutshiy’uZulu.
Inkom’ethe isagodla yeluleka

THE PRAISES OF MZILIKAZI, THE SON OF MATSHOBANA

Bayethe! Ndebele Nation!
You are the knobkerrie that menaced Tshaka.
You are the big one who is as big as his father Matshobana.
You are the string of Mntinti and Simangele
Simangele son of Ndaba.
You are the string of Mntitni and Ndaba
The string they made until they wet tears
You are the sun that rose from the ear of the elephant,
It rose where upon the birds announced to each other.
You are the son of Simangele who was kicked!
Who was kicked by long feet and by the short ones.
You refused to eat the gift of meat in Bulawayo.
You are the fighter who has marks of fighting,
You are the cattle that opened the closed pen with their horns,
Because they opened the Ngome forests and left.
You are the moon the people said had set
Yet it was just rising;
It rose in the year of Mpeyana.
You are the cow that showed its face from the crowd.
You are the log from which the Zulus cut firewood until they left it.
You are the cow that, while it was just emerging made progress.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | July 4, 2018

Quote by Amilcar Cabral

Amilcar Cabral

Amilcar Cabral

« Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyones head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.» (Amilcar Cabral).

Patrice Emery Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba

Here is a poem by Patrice Lumumba (19251961), published on Pambazuka NewsPatrice Lumumba was elected the first prime minister of the  Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Assassinated by Belgian colonialists and the CIA, Lumumba was a founder member of the Movement National Congolais (MNC), which led the Congo to independence. Patrice Lumumba is the symbol of aspirations of an entire continent, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to contemporary Congolese and African politicians. His spirit lives on, and his pride is ours!

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Dawn in the Heart of Africa

For a thousand years, you, African, suffered like beast,
Your ashes strewn to the wind that roams the desert.
Your tyrants built the lustrous, magic temples
To preserve your soul, reserve your suffering.
Barbaric right of fist and the white right to a whip,
You had the right to die, you also could weep.
On your totem they carved endless hunger, endless bonds,
And even in the cover of the woods a ghastly cruel death
Was watching, snaky, crawling to you
Like branches from the holes and heads of trees
Embraced your body and your ailing soul.
Then they put a treacherous big viper on your chest:
On your neck they laid the yoke of fire-water,
They took your sweet wife for glitter of cheap pearls,
Your incredible riches that nobody could measure.
From your hut, the tom-toms sounded into dark of night
Carrying cruel laments up mighty black rivers
About abused girls, streams of tears and blood,
About ships that sailed to countries where the little man
Wallows in an ant hill and the dollar is king,
To that damned land which they called a motherland.
There your child, your wife were ground, day and night
In a frightful, merciless mill, crushing them in dreadful pain.
You are a man like others. They preach you to believe
That good white God will reconcile all men at last.
By fire you grieved and sang the moaning songs
Of a homeless beggar that sinks at strangers’ doors.
And when a craze possessed you
And your blood boiled through he night
You danced, you moaned, obsessed by father’s passion.
Like furry of a storm to lyrics of a manly tune
From a thousand years of misery a strength burst out of you
In metallic voice of jazz, in uncovered outcry
That thunders through the continent like gigantic surf.
The whole world surprised , wakes up in panic
To the violent rhythm of blood, to the violent rhythm of jazz,
The white man turning pallid over this new song
That carries torch of purple through the dark of night.

The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,
A new morning breaks in our old Africa.
Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers
Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.
Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
They’ll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.
The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
The evil cruel times will go never to come again.
A free and gallant Congo will rise from black soil,
A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!

Patrice Lumumba

haircut5On ne conduit pas chez le coiffeur un enfant qui n’est pas encore né (Proverbe Dogon – Mali). – Ne vendez pas la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué.

We do not take a child who is not yet born to the hairdresser (Dogon proverb – Mali).- Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Posted by: Dr. Y. | June 25, 2018

Description of Djenné’s Market in 1825

Timbuktu_René_Caillié

René Caillié

Here is a description of the Market of the city of Djenné, another one of the crown jewels of the Empire of Mali, by the French explorer René Caillié. Bear in mind that René Caillié was the first westerner to return from TimbuktuMali. Also note the description of Suya by a European in 1825!

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The Kola merchants stand at one end of the market, placed in two lines, each having in front of them a small basket of Kola nuts that they sell in retail,  eight or ten cowries* each : the low price came from the large quantity of these fruits found in the entire country ; but they are normally worth fifteen to twenty cowries.

La grande mosquee de Djenne (Mali - heritage du grand empire du Mali)

La grande mosquee de Djenne (Mali – heritage du grand empire du Mali)

A few Butchers were established in the market; they lay their meat like in Europe: they also put in skewers small pieces of meat that they dry with smoke, and which they sell in retail. There is in this market a lot of fresh fish and dry ; earthen pots, calabashes, mats, and salt which is sold in retail, because that which is sold wholesale stays in shops.

Timbuktu_Rene Caille House 1905-06

René Caillié’s house in Timbuktu

We see an infinite number of merchants in the streets carrying their merchandise and yelling like it is done in Europe : these are fabrics of the country, things homemade, kola nuts, honey, vegetable butter and animal, milk, firewood. This last item is rare here; women bring it from 12 to 15 miles around. Millet stubble is also sold in the market; during my stay in this city,  every night I saw negro women who had bought this fuel for 10 cowries, to cook their supper …

René Caillé, Journal d’un voyage à Tombouctou et à Jenné dans l’Afrique centrale. Tome 2, P. 199 et s. English translation by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com

*Cowry: small white sea shells used as trade money in Africa up until a recent times.

Serpent (Cobra)

Serpent (Cobra)

Le serpent dit qu’il arrangera ses pattes quand it sera grand (Proverbe Bamiléké – Cameroun). – Une occasion manquée ne revient plus (pour le paresseux).

The snake says that it will arrange its legs when it gets big (Bamileke proverb – Cameroon). – An opportunity missed does not come back (for the lazy one).

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