What Zimbabwe legislators said about traditional medicine- Berita Chikwama


HON. CHIKWAMA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I want to debate the issue which was brought into this House by Hon. Masango, the issue of our own traditional medicine.  As African people, we destroyed our own traditional medicines because we have no confidence in our medicine.  If you look at roots such as ginger, we look down upon them but the moment the West came through and talked about it, we then started using it.  What we are saying is that we need to change our mindset and we also need to have legislation that will promote use of our traditional medicine.

I think our education also discriminated against anything African as it promotes everything Western as ideal.  We do not want to dwell much on our traditional ways of life.  Now that we have Education 5.0, it should also look into the issue of research of our traditional medicines so that we can also have tablets that can be sold openly and are well packaged after the research.

The white man came into our country whilst our African ancestors treated themselves using traditional medicines which were very effective.  Our fellow Africans thought that the well-packaged tablets from the white man were the ideal medicines forgetting that our own medicine could still be used for medicinal purposes and heal ailments.  Other religious groups look down upon traditional medicine and see it as evil.  I think we should come up with relevant legislation, so that we go back to the drawing board like we did with the small grains. People now want to take sadza made from small grains which is very healthy.  We should know that our medicines are very good and be convinced of its effectiveness.  I say so because one can get cancer and some succumb to it while others lose their limbs but you would find that one can actually go to a very humble person whom people do not hold in high regard and be treated.  So many diseases that we are getting today can be treated using traditional medicines but the challenge is we have been colonised and believe Western medicine is the best and have lost our values as Africans.

It would be ideal if we write about this medicine using our own vernacular languages giving the names in vernacular and not English.  Using the name pain killer has brainwashed people and yet if I go and get the bark of “mutamba tree” and take it, my headache will go away.  We want to thank the Hon. Members who have come up with such a motion pushing for a legislation to establish factories to process traditional medicines in the form of tablets or powders.  We take some powders from South Africa which soothes our headaches.  If we also do likewise with our traditional medicine, we can then see that our medicine is effective.

We have been colonised and we were educated not to provide for ourselves but learnt subjects like Maths and English without learning about things that develop us as Africans.  In my rural area, a person can be bitten by a black mamba but we have elders who know the medicine and what they do is they just rub the medicine on the snake bite and one is healed.  The challenge is that we tend to associate traditional medicine with witch doctors, which is bad.  These are different.  What we are talking about here are traditional medicines obtained from the trees and roots that God gave us that we can use as medicine.  With these words, I rest my case.



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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