OVER the years, most third world countries have found themselves faced with the dilemma of curbing the shortage of medication in hospitals.
In the hey days such problems would not affect most of our fore fathers as they used to rely on African herbs and remedies.
With most people now staying in towns, one would think that it would be near impossible for one to get access to authentic traditional herbs and with the elderly no longer around to advise us of the traditional herbs most people do not know where and whoA� to turn to.
Located in Bulawayoa��s oldest township, Makokoba, is Emkambo, a centre where herbalists sell herbs of all kinds from muti one would use for headaches to the muti healers use to curb cancer, the place is like a pharmacy only in an African sense.
a�?Most people here are traditional healers while some are only herbalists. So what happens is that some people come here with a problem and we tell them which muti they would need to rectify their problem. Some of our clients are also traditional healers but because they do not have access to some of the muti they come and buy it from us,a�? said Emily Mpofu who has a stand at Emkambo.
Mpofu further highlighted that not everyone who comes to them believes in the African culture but some people still believe in the power of traditional medicine for example some would visit Emkambo when they want intolwane or umgugudu which are said to be a remedy for flatulence otherwise known as ingubhane.
The herbalists come from as far as Binga and Chipinge and they are fully licensed.
a�?We dona��t just sell herbs without permission; we have to attain licenses which allow us to dig up herbs in the bush without the fear of getting arrested by rangers or municipal police. Most of the herbs are dug up in the rural areas though and this is because there are vast bushes in rural areas than around the city,a�? said one of the herbalists.
There are also individuals who sell other goods besides traditional medicines, for instance some sell sorghum, millet and chickens but all are sold in a bid to make money. With that in mind some people also complain that in as much some of the vendors are authentic some of them are now conning people.
a�?You have to be careful who you buy from because some of the vendors would sell you something that does not work because they do not want to see a customer leave without buying.
Most would take advantage of the fact that some of the muti is not sold in its original state so they can sell you something else and claim ita��s what you would have asked for,a�? said one of the herbalists who requested anonymity.
Most individuals visit Mkambo market because the medicine there is cheap and readily available, while some choose African muti because they are still in touch with their roots hence they choose African herbs which they learnt about from their elders through oral tradition and the knowledge is still being passed down from generation to generation.