Orality and Medicine: The Efficacy of the Word in the Practice of Therapeutic Cures in Traditional African Medicine
The practice of medicine or herbal cures in traditional societies particularly in Africa has often been viewed with mixed feelings and sometimes with outright disdain yet it has its own history of achievements particularly in the areas of bone setting and therapeutic cures or exorcism. This notwithstanding, today in Nigeria however, one notices that modern technological innovations and education have greatly impacted on traditional medical practice and medicine men are encouraged to improve upon their practices, particularly their environments. The efficacy of traditional herbal cures in most of our societies encouraged this writer to examine some of the methods employed by the medicine men. The result of this was the interesting discovery that traditional medicine men place high priority on the power of the word as evidenced in their incantations, invocations and chants. The “word” in the healing process is seen as an appeal to a supernatural being who is summoned to the aid of the patient. That supernatural force could be the supreme God or the traditional deities believed to be in control of human existence. In the end, the writer discovered that the traditional medicine men possessed the best stock of poetical expressions and dramatic dialogue which they employ to establish a relationship or rapport between man and nature or the supernatural in the process of healing.
Key words: Traditional African Medicine; Nigeria; Traditional medical practice; Herbal cures
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