Exactly three years ago, I was on one of my usual trips to Nnewi, Anambra to check on my ailing mother and I needed to stop by a shop on Igwe Orizu road to buy some provisions. I was attended to by a young beautiful girl, who was so courteous and customer-centric that I had to ask why she chose the salesgirl’s job instead looking for a better earning career.
The young girl told me that it was her father’s shop and that she had to help out since she could not get a job; that she just finished her youth service. I pitied her and dropped my call card asking her to send her CV to me so that I could help get her tested for employment in a bank. And she did. Her mom and dad later called to thank me for choosing to help their first daughter. And I did.
The young girl, Ebere who made a second class upper degree from a federal university proved her mettle by smashing the bank’s aptitude test at first attempt and was scheduled for oral interview. That was when I noticed she has a problem.
Candidate Ebere refused to appear for the her interview despite many opportunities created for her. Hours before her interview time, her phone would go off and she would never call back to apologize. The apologetic mother and the infuriated father were embarrassed. I forgot about her until one day she called asking for a physical meeting with me. She was in Lagos.
I could barely recognise her as she majestically walked into my office. Her resplendent looks, height, gait and measured queenly carriage distracted a couple of young boys working under me, who had to enter my office to give me undue updates on assignments. They just wanted to meet the young girl in Oga’s office.
My mouth remained agape as this young girl told me the story of her life. How her dead ancestors had been on her case and were insistent that she must take on the herbalist profession of her great grandmother and how they interfered in her life choices and how, many men of God had failed to deliver her from the nagging spiritual interference. She also narrated how her parents wouldn’t approve of any deliverance that involved spiritual sacrifice, propitiation or any solution outside their christian faith.
And she continued to suffer.
Finally, the young lady assured me that she was okay now but not after taking her destiny into her hands to seek for help from practitioners of African Traditional Religion. I would not bore you with the details. Her troubles melted away after she accepted to become a herbalist.
Herbalist Ebere told me how the ancestors would show him the herbs that cure specific illnesses and she would wake up to find those herbs exactly in those locations. She would use them to prepare her medications and her customers would come back with testimonies. And her clientele base is growing.
I had asked Ebere to get NAFDAC license for her products and she laughed. I guess she wondered if NAFDAC has ancestors as staff who could certify native medicine.
Ebere’s call to service would not surprise any grounded Igbo person as that was how all healing native doctors were called.
I had a singular opportunity of interviewing the great Nwakobe Ogbuebunu from Umuanuka Otolo in the early 1980s. And he told me that he was ordered to leave Aba in then Imo State back to Nnewi to become a native doctor, a trade his father and his ancestors plied. He told me how he would be woken up in the dead of the night and led into the bush to be shown the herbs to use. At that time, the herbs would be speaking audibly announcing what they cured. So was the case of Okeke Alịkọ of Ụmụicheke in Umuenem Otolo Nnewi.
Those called to become native doctors in Igbo land usually succeed. They are not like my neighbour who decided to learn it from a popular native doctor named Nnsọfọ from Ụmụenem Otolo Nnewi but cured nobody. He fizzled out. Some others, the bad eggs use their talents in the wrong way as some people use guns given to them for hunting for shooting people. The can cure and can also afflict illnesses on people.
It is becoming clearer to me that God had given every nation or people their own doctors with sound ways of diagnosis and treatments of their peculiar aliments or diseases. Unfortunately, the colonial masters and their religion experts have made us see what God gave us as evil. And we don’t care.
I wish Ebere, my young friend, who has decided to obey the call of her ancestors to become a medical doctor, success in her ordained profession. By the way, she doesn’t do divination or prepare charms. She is just a curative doctor.
By Anayo Nwosu, OON