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1.1      Background of Study

African traditional medicine is a medicine that is embedded in the religion of the people. In traditional understanding, medicine is closely associated with religion, because it is the position of the divine healer who dispenses it through the medium of a priest. The general belief is that the knowledge of medicine care directly from God and it operates through the tutelary divinities or spirits. Ogogua as cited in Kanu (2012, p.228.) rightly observed that there is always a background to every human experience or existential practice. Nothing brings surprises from nowhere. Every experience suggests a metaphysical conviction and a theory of understanding, which father such beliefs and practices. This is what could be referred to as the “central box” of people, their worldview or cosmology. Thus from and understanding of the African worldview, one would better appreciate the place that African Traditional Medicine occupies in the lives of Africans and the world at larger. This must have occasioned the assertion of Uchendu as cited in Kanu (2012), who said that to know a people, how they live, evaluate life, both in the temporal and non-temporal perspectives provide a charter of action for them. 

In an attempt to understand African worldview or cosmology, it would be worthwhile to first explore the concept of “cosmology” etymologically, it is from the Greek words: cosmos and logos, meaning “universe” and “science” respectively. Put together, it is the science of the universe. Kanu (2012 p.228). Metuh (1987), maintains that: A people’s worldview has been described as the complex of their beliefs and attitudes concerning the origin, the nature, structures, organization and interaction of being in the universe with particular reference to man. A worldview seeks to answer fundamental questions about the place and relationship of man with the universe. Answers to these fundamental problems provide man with the blueprint for controlling his environment and for establishing his social and political institution. Controversial, knowledge of the people’s worldview is a key to the understanding of the social, political and even psychological problems. However, a people’s worldview is not only the multiplicity of beings, concepts, beliefs, and attitudes which they share, but also the underlying thought-link or logic which holds them together, so that an adequate view of a people’s worldview can only be obtained by a description of their whole life especially in its social context. It is in this regard that kanu (2012 p.123), maintains that African worldview is simply the way Africans perceive, conceive and contemplate their universe through the lens which they see reality, which affects their value systems and additional orientation; it is the African’s search for the meaning of life, and an unconscious but natural tendency to arrive at a unifying base that constitutes a frame of meaning often viewed as terminus a qou (origin) and as terminus ad quem (end).

The idea of African worldview must be understood in a general sense and in a restricted sense, because what we call African worldview is not one shared by all Africans but rather some characteristics features of the African worldviews. The basis of their medicine is religion because; knowledge of the medicine comes from God and operates through divinities and spirits, collection and dispensing of medicine is accompanied by ritual, divinities and spirits teach science of medicine to people of their choice, ancestral practitioners of medicine are invoked to make the medicine more effective and the belief is that unconsecrated medicine is not effective. The African worldview has the physical and the spiritual dimensions Edeh (1983 p.7). All beings known to African world-views can be said to belong to either of the two worlds.

The visible world “terra firm” (solid earth) is populated by men and all material surroundings familiar to man, sky, earth, rivers, forest, mountains and so forth. The invisible world consist of the heavenly realm, said to be the home place of the creators and deities which is thought to be located somewhere in the sky and the spirit land said to be the home of the ancestors, the spirits disembodied spirits, located somewhere inside the ground. Mbiti (1969 p.234) says, it must be noted that this classification is only made for the convenience of analysis, because generally, African beliefs see no wall of demarcation between the two worlds. The two realms shade into each other. One could even say that to a certain extent the two worlds overlap. African traditional medicine takes it’s bearing from the five folds of religion:

Belief in God: creator and determiner of destiny, king, judge, omnipotent, immortal, holy, compassionate, omnipresent and transcendent. Direct worship in the past but now worshipped through the divinities and the ancestors.

Belief in the divinities: children of God brought into being with regard to the divine ordering of the universe, derived powers. Primordial in nature spirits or deified ancestors function as intermediaries and ministers of God as well as guardians of morality. Elaborate organized worship.

Belief in spirit beings: both good (dwarfs) and bad (abiku, ghosts and witches).

Belief in ancestors: past heroes of society who function as intermediaries between man and the divine beings and guardians and policemen of public morality, the unseen president at family meetings. They are remembered in ancestral cults.

Belief in magic and medicine:  Magic attempts to control people and events by supernatural means and medicine has to do with curing and preventing diseases. Chidili (2012).

As rightly stated by kanu (2012 p.235), In African traditional societies, sickness, disease and misfortune are generally believed to be caused by the ill will or ill action of one person against the other such as bewitchment, broken taboos, offending the gods and ancestral spirits, debts and others.

Bewitchment: this is a common cause of ill-health in traditional African societal setting. The bewitched person may be a rich peasant who refuses to share his wealth with less privileged members of his community. The African value system requires generosity on the part of the privileged. Therefore bewitchment may be a consequence of violating the accepted cultural norms and values.

Broken taboos: in the secret or public, knowingly, or unknowingly a member of a community is supposed to keep away from doing certain things. He/she breaks a taboo if the abominable is done. The consequences in form of death are on the violator or his relative.

Offending the gods and ancestral spirits: Whenever gods and ancestral spirits are offended by an individual or individuals their annoyance may be expressed in forms of serious epidemics. The healer who has a way of understanding the spirits will communicate with them and know the appropriate therapy.

Debts: long, overdue and unpaid debts may cause diseases to the debtor. African sense of justices does not forgive unpaid debtors. When a person wakes up with a swollen leg or other spontaneous ailments, the root cause may not be biological malfunction, it may be that the victim has not paid his debts owed to a neighbor when paid, and herbs are given to the sick, he/she then recovers.

Other issues: in very rear cases one’s illness is considered natural. After his professional consultations with the gods the healer may conclude that “this sickness dose not lead to death” other sickness are just to show discipline in society causes of illness in African community may also include lack of respect for elders, adultery with someone’s wife, incest, quarrels, jealousy, and cultural unacceptable marriages. Man in his nature has a tripartite nature i.e. body, spirit and soul thus; the African religionist seeks to live in harmony and to balance their lives in a harmonious and peaceful existence with the entire world- both physical and spiritual. Hence, any disequilibrium and peaceful co-existence physical and spiritual can lead to calamities including sicknesses or diseases. In continuation, health does not refer to just an absence of diseases or pains, but harmony of body, mind and spirit. This African notion and belief and practices of health is similar but differs from to the western cum scientific and technological belief in that it excludes the spiritual aspect from the health care delivery system. Oduma (2010).

African traditional medicine is holistic in because it deals with body, spirit and soul of a person which can affect man human condition generally. Scientific or modern medicine tends to treat diseases rather than people which the Africans tends to hold unto, the traditional medicine treats deeply and cures completely right from the body, soul and spirit to the extent of finding the root to an ailment. Unlike modern doctors, a traditional healer tries to reach deep into the cause of illness. Mbiti (1969) says we have seen that when things go wrong people try to find the causes, and often these causes are believed to be human agents using magic sorcery or witchcraft. People do not stop at only what and who has caused things to go wrong. They try to put right what has gone wrong, to heal, to cure, to protect, to drive away evil, and to counteract or neutralize the evil use of the mystical forces. To do this they used “medicine” to this end, African traditional medicine is holistic in nature because it is only a holistic approach to health and well-being can provide lasting solution to human diseases or sickness. One thing the Africans have come to know is that healing is not an absence of pain but a transformation of worldview.

African traditional medicine takes care of a lot of things; it would not be out of place to know what the traditional medicine is made up of. Candidates acquire knowledge in matters pertaining to: the medicinal value, quality and use of different, Herbs’ Leaves, Roots, Fruits, Barks, and Grasses.

And various objects like: Minerals, Dead insects, Bones, Feathers, Powders, Smoke from different objects, Excreta’s of animals and insect, Shells, Eggs, Seed, Charcoals (Magesa, 1997). And lastly, what makes it traditional is the addition of both physical and spiritual treatment. Medicine is any substances that are used in treating illness: medicine is a recipe of herbal mixtures and ritual formulae designed to generate some powers which are built into nature by God, which can be tapped and applied with the help of God and other spiritual beings to meet various human needs.  African traditional medicine is not only accessible but also affordable and effective; the poor masses have little or no option but to embrace their traditional health.

African Traditional Medicine is our socio-economic and socio-cultural heritage, servicing over 80% of the populations in Africa.  Although, it has come a long way from the times of our ancestors, not much significant progress on its development and utilization had taken place due to colonial suppression on one hand, foreign religions in particular, absolute lack of patriotism and political will of our Governments, and then on the other hand, the carefree attitudes of most African medical scientists of all categories.  It is incontrovertible that African Traditional Medicine exhibits far more merits than demerits and its values can be exploited provided the Africans themselves can approach it with an open mind and scientific mentality. (Elujoba ET al.2005 p.1) The report of the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region (2000 p.19) States that, “Traditional medicine is the ancient and culture–bound medical practice which existed in human societies before the application of modern science to health”. The practice of traditional medicine varies widely, in keeping with the societal and cultural heritage of different countries. Bannerman further opines that every human community responds to the challenge of maintaining health and treating diseases by developing a medical system.  Thus, traditional medicine has been practiced to some degree in all cultures. After the introduction of modern medicine into the Region, traditional medicine was usually rejected by the formal medical service system. Today, traditional medicine is been looked down upon and in some cases, it is considered as irreligious, diabolical and un-theological by African detractors .rather they advertise western medicine, with the glowing tone of being the best for healing all kinds of diseases. 

Like in the words of Simpore (2003 p.29-30)Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness”. Traditional systems in general have had to meet the needs of the local communities for many centuries China and India, for example, have developed very sophisticated systems such as acupuncture and ayurvedic medicine. Traditional medicine is generally available, affordable, and commonly used in large parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. WHO estimates that about 80% of the populations in developing countries still depend on traditional medicine for their Primary Health Care needs? However, this percentage may vary from country to country.

Bannerman. (2003:28) also states that when the missionaries brought the western medicine with them to Africa, in the early 19th century it served as a major tool after education to make innumerable conversions. Evangelizers treated the patients as they disseminated the teachings of the scripture to them. People were encouraged to embrace the western medicine at the expense of traditional medicine. This people dis integrated the traditional medicine to the degree of nothingness. Soon many Africans began to reason that embracing African medicine was sinful and therefore inimical to the biblical message from the missionaries. What is even more disturbing was that people thought that embracing western medicine meant becoming modern and civilized. Many people who were still depending on African medicine for their health care were branded backward and uncivilized. Traditional practices are based on a holistic approach to the human being within the wider environment, and this is also reflected in the type of knowledge to which they refer, the debate surrounding their origins, their usage patterns and transmission modes.

Traditional medical knowledge and its application can be highly codified and systematized, sometimes even institutionalized, with the result that it is transmitted by public medical institutions or jointly by health institutions and families or specialist lineages. In some countries, traditional medical knowledge remains localized and its dissemination is limited, thus conserving an informal aspect that accrues from the accumulated experience of a particular lineage of healers. It is often kept secret, being mainly transmitted orally, as pointed out above. It can also combine natural and supernatural resources, and be deemed to be acquired at birth or through a gift or special revelation to certain initiates.Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, cholera, most venereal diseases, epilepsy, asthma, eczema, fever, anxiety, depression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract infections, gout, and healing of wounds and burns.

According to Adefolaju. (2003 p.121)Western/Orthodox medicine was introduced to the Africa continent in the wake of colonialism through missionaries of the Christian faith. This new medicine prepared people psychologically to become more receptive to western culture and education. This led to the relegation of traditional medicine to the background and the practitioners were derided and tagged ‘witch-doctors’. In Nigeria, traditional medical practice suffered a decline during the era of British colonization which virtually out-lawed it. This is coupled with the rise of Christian ideology especially of the Pentecostal genre which considered most aspects of the practice as un-Christian and therefore ‘evil’. Adefolaju further stated that the rejection and derision of the indigenous healing practice has continued till present time, leading to government’s unwillingness to recognize and harmonies it with the global system of health care delivery. The African Union, reports the tardiness on the part of the Nigerian government as follows: A Nigerian panelist coined a phrase “The Village Pharmacist”. The term referred to the practice of harnessing the healing knowledge of herbs. He did this to produce a malaria powder product called “mama Powder” for the fight against malaria parasite, plasmodium falciparum. Clinical trials proved efficacious at every trial. Additionally his organization produced mama pediatric anti-malarial syrup, which after clinical trials involving about 77,880 participants, there were no side effects. His biggest challenge is the difficulty of getting government permits (from the same government that gave him permits for research and clinical trials) for commercialization of the two products perfected from African Traditional Medicine by 100% local capacity.

1.2       Statement of Problem

African traditional medicine is meant to complement orthodox medicine or vice-versa. However, critically looking at the said issue it does not appear to work as expected. Instead the orthodox medicine has over time assumed a superior status over African traditional medicine to the extent that African traditional medicine is seen as evil or against one’s faith most especially right from the coming of the European missionaries to Africa. Moreover since the coming of orthodox medicine, African traditional medicine continues to serve as one of the strongest medicine in healing all kinds of ailments. Even the diseases that orthodox medicine has failed to cure, African traditional medicine in many instances appears effective in curing those diseases. It is said that over 80per of the population of Nigerians, live in rural areas and only 20per live in urban areas, the Orthodox Medicine are mostly found in the urban areas, leaving the rural areas with little or no Orthodox Medicine and vice-versa, thereby creating a wide gap between Orthodox Medicine and African Traditional Medicine.

1.3       Aim and Objective of the Study

The research aims at the following:

i.                    To buttress the relevance of African traditional medicine to contemporary society

ii.                  To remove certain prejudice and misconceptions by the modern society on African traditional medicine

iii.                To overt the need for the inculcation of the study of African traditional medicine in contemporary medicine

iv.                To discuss how to promote a dialogue of understanding between traditional and modern medicine

v.                  To identify research requirements and research priorities for better understanding of the value of traditional medicine in the Region.

vi.                To find out the accessibility and affordability of African medicine over orthodox medicine

1.4       Significance of the Study

The research shall be relevant in the following ways

i.                    the research shall serve as an eye opener to the people of Zango kataf Local Government on the need revive the production and use of its cultural herbs to supplement the scares orthodox medicine

ii.                  the research shall also be significant to higher institutions such as Kaduna State university on the need to inculcate the study of certain African Traditional herbs so as to supplement the challenges at modern medicine

iii.                this study shall also be significant to Traditional health practioners on the need of inculcating certain important techniques in medicine admiration and diagnosis

1.5       Research Hypothesis

Ho:      There is no significance difference between African Traditional Medicine and Orthodox Medicine.

Ha:      There is a significance difference between African Traditional Medicine and Orthodox Medicine.

Ho:      There is no significance difference between the effects of Traditional African Medicine and Orthodox.

Ha:      There is a significance difference between the effects of Traditional African Medicine and Orthodox.

1.6       Scope and Delimitation

Though this research work is specifically concerned with the role of African traditional Medicine and orthodox Medicine though it deals with African traditional medicine, this research shall be restricted to the study of African medicine as a supplement for contemporary (modern) medicine within the Bajju people of Zango Kataf. This research will therefore seek first-hand knowledge about African traditional medicine and orthodox medicine. It will also center on literatures and also the administration of questionnaires that are in line with the research work. A study on an issue like this cannot go without some limitations such as insecurity due to the recent attacks by the Fulani heads men within the area of study the research would not be able to go through all corners of the Local Government. Another short coming would be the roads, bad roads linking various areas within the Local Government will hinder entering certain places and also the time frame for the research, a research of this magnitude entails time but due to the short period allocated for the research work the researcher would not cover the entire Local Government.

1.7       Limitations

Though ideally the research would have love to cover all the adherents of African traditional medicine, but due to the large geographical area of the country and various tribes/ ethnic groups with their different believes and usage of medicine, it would be humanly impossible. More so time and financial constraint would not allow the researcher to cover most areas. Basically, people with the first-hand knowledge required for this research work are mostly old people, who might not even be educated and another group of people with this same knowledge are those eminent scholars who have ventured into this field and might find it challenging to give their contributions due to their busy schedules. In this light, the researcher will source for funds from family, relative, friends and well-wishers for the purpose of completing this research.

1.8      Research Questions

My research will be asking questions such as:

i.                    Has African traditional medicine any relevance to contemporary medicine?

ii.                  Has African traditional medicine been relegated as irrelevant?

iii.                Has modern medicine met the required need of members of the community?

iv.                Should the study of African medicine be inculcated in modern medicine?

1.9      Definition of key Terms

1.9.1    Medicine:

According to the English dictionary, medicine is a substance which specifically promotes healing when ingested or consumed in some way.

1.9.2    Traditional medicine:

Traditional Medicine can be described as the simplified, scientific and the direct application of plant, animal or mineral materials for healing purposes and which can be investigated, rationalized and explained scientifically. “Traditional medicine refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being.”

1.9.3 Orthodox medicine:

According to the national cancer institute (NCI), “orthodox medicine is a system in which medical doctors and other health care professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called; allopathic medicine, biomedicine, convectional medicine, mainstream medicine and western medicine.

1.9.4 Synergy:

According to the business dictionary, synergy is a state in which two or more things work together in a particular fruitful way that produces an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects     .

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