Abolore Abiodun, a traditional doctor and the owner of Gbose Ewo Traditional Herbal Centre, Orile Agege, Lagos, spoke with OLUWASEYIKEMI ANDREW and BLESSING OMUABOR, in this interview
In recent times, there have been advertisements on social media by those who claim to be herbalist, soliciting for clients. What do you think has given rise to this new trend?
In my own opinion, I see a sense in that. For me, any herbalist that puts his or her works on the social media only helps to expand our horizon; it’s an improvement, it’s something good, which should be encouraged because our present world is different from our forefathers’ world. On the other hand, however, I see it from the perspective that civilisation and the new media want to spoil what we do. Some people are using this to show off. They want people to believe that they can perform wonders and miracles with their talents and God given gift.
Some are also worried about the method of sending these medicines to their clients. Do you think this could be an issue?
No matter how far herbs travel, no matter the days it stays before getting to its destination, it will not stop the herbs from being potent. Many of those herbs sent out, they don’t add or put water inside. Some people will make the root and herbs in powder form. There is no amount of time or days herbs cannot be used. Some people will cut herbs into pieces and put them inside a bottle without water and they send it to wherever the client wants it to be delivered to. As a Yoruba man, if you make herbs concoction called Agunmu this year and you want to use it next year, it will still do the work you want it to do in your body. You will find out that any herbs, root or leaf sent out, they don’t add water to it not until it gets to where they want to make use of it. It is the client that will now decide on what to add to it. He or she may decide to add spirit or water. The only thing that can make the herbs dry off is when you add water or spirit continuously in it, that way; the herbs will not be as effective as it should be.
But, some believe that herbs and roots fade. What is your view on that?
Well, there is nothing that has beginning that doesn’t have an end. There is no cry that God cannot turn to laughter, and there is no reproach that God cannot turn to glory. There is no bitterness that God cannot turn to sweetness; all is in the command of God. There is no herbalist or Babalawo that will finish a concoction without adding the name of God. It is people that want to use civilisation to do all things but civilisation can’t do everything.
What is the difference between herbalist and Babalawo?
Babalawos are oracle consultants, they are like small gods. They are like men of God, they also see things. They see the problem of the people and ask the oracle the way out of that problem. But herbalists are traditional or native doctors. They can ‘lose’ and ‘tie’. They prepare herbs and concoction for clients, they are healers. They also do the same work as orthodox medical doctors.
There are those who are insinuating that these groups of herbalists are scammers. What’s your view on this?
Yes, there are scammers in this profession, like in other professions. Herbalism is not isolated from this vice but we know them and people can only be scammed once. If any of them prepares a charm or medicine for you and it didn’t work, you won’t go back to such a fellow the second time. That is the way it is. There are charlatans everywhere not only in the vocation.
Would it be right then to say that the new trend is driven by greed?
I agreed with you totally. Greed has a place here. In the olden days, herbalists don’t buy cars, land or anything with their money, it is people that give or dash them as a mark of appreciation. With that everybody will know that the herbalist is genuine. But, today, herbalists are involving themselves in what they ought not to involve themselves. Some herbalists inherited from their fathers or grandfathers have that profession in their families and some learnt it from others. Covetousness, impatient and greed made many herbalists involve themselves on social media, advertising their business so that white men will patronise them because the white will pay a lot of money than the black that will still do price bargaining.
Do you have a Facebook account or Instagram or Twitter account or Whatsapp?
I am not on any social media because I don’t have that time. I managed to open a WhatsApp account but I don’t operate it because I don’t have the time. I regard it has a waste of time.
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