Our Blog

List of recently published project topics and materials

PROJECT TOPIC- PROVERBS AS KNOWLEDGE BEARERS: TOWARDS A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AMONG PRELITERATE IGBO SOCIETY OF NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC- PROVERBS AS KNOWLEDGE BEARERS: TOWARDS A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AMONG PRELITERATE IGBO SOCIETY OF NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe observed in his work, Things Fall Apart, that among the Igbo, proverbs are the palm oil with which words were eaten. Implicit in this statement is the notion that the Igbo attach a lot of importance to proverbs and that proverbs serve as a lubricant to their “rusting” memories. One of such importance is noticed in their use of proverbs to keep alive their traditional medical practices which is
at the verge of extinction consequent on the introduction of orthodox medicine by the western world. For instance, there is this Igbo proverb that says that when the gods inflict one with boils, they are demanding from the victim items like palm oil, the excreta (white) of a lizard, and the shell of Dura brand of palm kernel. This proverb gives one an insight into the pharmacopeia of boil among the Igbo even though it is salient on how
they are prepared and used. This is in tandem with another proverb that emphasizes expertise. The saying that ofekemaramgborogunwadibia,enweghiiheomerenwadibia. This translates as the uninformed that knows the roots of plants used by the traditional
medicine man have not in any harmed him or his business. This means that knowing the roots without knowing how they are prepared, applied or used makes no meaning. There are other proverbs that relate to sexually transmitted diseases, natal and post-natal care for both humans and their domestic animals. Due to the fading of this ancient profession, it is imperative that the knowledge provided by proverbs be explored to help in salvaging this endangered profession. Preserving such knowledge would be of immense importance to the health and economy of the nation as it would generate employment, reduce the amount of money spent on procuring herbal medicine from overseas. Here then lies the import of this paper.

INTRODUCTION

Traditional medicine according to Kenneth Little refer to any concrete object possessing mystical powers which can be used for positive or negative purposes. Such objects which must have some therapeutic potentials could be the root of a plant, a leaf, the bark of a tree, animal dung, feather or hairs, or other items held sacred by virtue of its association or connection with visible forces1.
Such medicine could be used to offer protection to life and property, to detect and check evildoers and for peaceful settlement of cases. Another important aspect of traditional medicine among the Igbo is its link with their religious practices and magic. Thus, it is common to see a healer talking to a tree or stone- defying the material obstacle of the object to appeal to the spirit within, to control and exploit it for the benefit of his patients2. Therefore, an understanding of the proverbs used by the Igbo to perpetuate their traditional medical knowledge must take into
account the entire belief system and notions about sickness.

PROJECT TOPIC- PROVERBS AS KNOWLEDGE BEARERS: TOWARDS A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AMONG PRELITERATE IGBO SOCIETY OF NIGERIA

Proverbs in the words of Finnegan is a rich source of imagery and succinct expression on which more elaborate forms can draw3. Among the Igbo, Ugonna4 states that proverbs can be conceived as a kind of mirror which reflects human experience. Noah went a step further to note that
proverbs generally do not only authenticate opinion and heighten interest in stories, but also add ornaments to stories5. One of such ornaments is that of a healthy life attained through the preservation of the knowledge of traditional medicine which proverbs of Igbo extraction offers.
Areas where proverbs have helped in preserving the knowledge of traditional medicine will be discussed in themes hereunder.

BOILS

In Igboland the name for boil is etuto, esuse depending on ones dialect. Among the Igbo of Nsukka Division from where the majority of the proverbs were drawn, there is a proverb that mmachoommanu,ikekereokpurukpuakin’ekerengwere, O tureshigideimenye esuse6. This
translates as, when the gods want palm oil, the shell of Dura brand of palm kernel, and the white excreta of lizard, it inflicts people with boils. These items, till date, form part of the major pharmacopeia in the cure of boils among the Nsukka peoples of Lejja, Opi, Ede Oballa, Enugu- Ezike, Abbi and Ugbeleajima. First, the shell of the palm kernel is turned into charcoal using broken clay pot.

The broken clay pot was placed on fire and heated for some time (about ten minutes). While the clay pot was on fire, the shells of the kernel were put inside the clay pot to ensure that it turned into charcoal. The charcoal so produced was grinded together with the white excreta of lizard. After the grinding, palm oil was added to the ground substances to form a cream or paste. The mixture was robbed on the boil. Local testimonies claimed that the pain generated by the boil got reduced within a short period after the medication was applied to the boil.

The present writer met a man who had boils full of pus and was ready to burst open. The man claimed to have used this medication but added salt to the mixture. He claimed that the mixture had the power of softening the inflammation within a period of about two days of persistent use of the medication7.
Granted that the procedures explained her did not reflect in the proverb, the proverb mentions almost all the necessary ingredients used in the cure of boils. What is left for modern day scientists is to test for the active ingredients in the mixture with a view to finding what the active ingredients are. With that done they can mass produce such medication at commercial quantity. For the treatment of boils also, there is this proverb that mmanun’unu new esusek’Amadinwe Ohu8- Palm oil and salt are masters to boils as the free citizens are to slaves.

In this case, they mixed few drops of red oil palm with a type of salt called ununde and dropped the fluid like mixture on the surface of the boil. Within about seven to eight hours, the boil would burst open and pus seen dripping from it. The dripping of pus signaled the beginning of healing of the ailment9.

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES

PROJECT TOPIC- PROVERBS AS KNOWLEDGE BEARERS: TOWARDS A RECONSTRUCTION OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AMONG PRELITERATE IGBO SOCIETY OF NIGERIA

Was the material helpful? Comment below. Need the material? Call 08060755653.