How herb seller makes gain amidst Covid-19

Madam Kafilat Ajiboye, a popular herbs seller in Kubwa village. Two of her herbal concoctions are most sought-after by her teeming customer said she has indeed enjoyed a phenomenal rise from a life of struggle to that of relative comfort particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. ADEOLA TUKURU reports.

The practice of traditional medicine is deeply rooted in the culture of many Nigerians and still remains the first port of call for many when they fall sick particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic .

Madam Ajiboye while recounting to Business Starter said there are several local used to describe  traditional herbs in Yoruba land, and these include Olosanyin, Elegbogi or Oniseegun.

She said different areas of specialization include general practitioners (gbogbonise) stroke and hypertension healers, bone settings (teguntegun), traditional pediatrician (elewe omo) and local traditional pharmacist (lekuleja), in addition to the charmers, diviners, necromancers and stargazers (ateyanrin).

Apart from owning a well-stocked shop with different varieties of herbs , the Osun State-born can boasts of a small warehouse where more drinks and other related items are stored until when they are needed. 

Madam Kafi popularly known by her customers with her array of herbal mixtures, appears to have entrenched a new kind of culture across and beyond this obscured part of  Kubwa winning for herself dozens of faithful along the epic but turbulent journey to prominence.

While the woman laughs all the way to the bank these days following a significant rise in sales during the pandemic, those who swamp all around her small but ‘mighty’ shop, vow never to be too far away for them. 

The Mother of 5 also attested to building a 3 bedroom flat and training her  children through school as well as catering for her families needs through the business. 

How she learnt the mixture of herbs 

According to her , after learning how to prepare the mixture and successfully getting her husband family to stop her daily evening sojourns, neighbours started demanding for the medicine from her as well. 

Before long, with demand spreading beyond their immediate compound, it became a commercial venture a business she revealed had sustained the entire family over the last eight years.

“I got into this business by accident but eventually everything has turned out nice today. This is what has been keeping the entire family going .

Customers demand 

She said her customers come from all parts of Gwagwalada and its environs because those who have tasted his herbs trust them.

“There is no time of the day that I don’t have customers at my shop, there is hardly ever time for rest in fact,” she said.

The rise of the ‘sector’ has also seen some of these items being hawked from street to street in most neighbourhoods today as well. For sellers and patrons, it is a trend that knows no bounds.

The effects of trado-medicine 

Speaking on what separates trado-medicine from herbal concoctions sold at roadsides and street corners, she explained what followed her childhood passion for solving health problems using herbs and roots, said while their own type of solution treats a problem holistically and finds a lasting cure, the others merely tend to the symptoms only.

While disclosing that many of her clients also request for sex-enhancing mixtures, she said a number of factors like eating and sleeping patterns including the stress level encountered must always be taken into consideration before treatment is administered on clients by a true professional.

According to her , one of the biggest strengths of trado-medicine is that it treats holistically. No true professional will give you anything without properly asking all about your history like sleeping and waking patterns/hours, what and when do you eat? 

“Any headache, whether you are drinking enough water, and the rest. The reason behind all these questions is to be able to treat you effectively. 

“Under this type of method, individuals are placed on such treatment for a period of time to correct the anomaly completely,” she said. 

Operating largely without regulation, dozens of individuals, especially women, appear to have found a silent money-spinner in the sale of these herbal concoctions in most parts of Nigeria today. 

Starting from as low as N200 the size of which differs from place to place  some of the concoctions go for around five times that amount in other areas, depending on what ailment it is meant to treat.

For those in the business, it has been a period of boom while patrons, increasingly fascinated by the promises of wonderful outcomes, continue to keep up the tradition.

Alternative medicine 

Traditional medicine has been defined as the alternative or non-conventional modes of treatment often involving the use of herbs in a non-orthodox manner as well as the process of consulting herbalists, mediums, priests, witch doctors, medicine men and various local deities when seeking a solution to diverse illnesses 

Traditional medicine includes herbal medicine, bone setting, spiritual therapies, circumcision, maternity care, psychiatric care, massage therapy, aromatherapy, music therapy, homeopathy and a lot of others. 

A traditional medicine practitioner 

In the same vein, a Traditional Medicine Practitioner (TMP) has been defined as “a person who is recognized by the community in which he lives as competent to provide health care by using vegetable, animal and/or mineral substances and certain other methods based on the social, cultural and religious background as well as the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that are prevalent in the community regarding physical, mental and social wellbeing and the causation of diseases and disability. 

Specialists in traditional medicine include herbalists, bone setters, traditional psychiatrists, traditional paediatricians, spiritual therapists, local surgeons, traditional birth attendants (TBA), occult practitioners, herb sellers and general practitioners among others.

Trado-medicine practiced more in the west 

The Yoruba people dominate the South-western part of Nigeria. The population was approximately 30 million, which was about 21% of the entire Nigerian population.

According to Trado-medicine expert  , some Yorubas are also located in the modern Republics of Benin and Togo in West Africa and also in Cuba and some Caribbean countries. 

Some of the major settlements in Yoruba land are Ibadan, Lagos, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Ilesha, Ado-Ekiti, Osogbo, Ogbomoso, Ilorin and Ile-Ife. Ile-Ife is the popularly accepted religious-cultural centre for all the Yoruba people. 

The Yoruba nation has several sub-groups like the Ekiti, Ijesa, Oyo, Egba, Ijebu, Yewa and Igbomina in addition to Ondo, Akoko and even the Edos. 

Yoruba land is characterized by forest vegetation as well as patches of derived savanna types arising basically from human activities like bush burning for agricultural and hunting purposes .

 The main traditional occupations of the people include farming, fishing, blacksmithing, pottery and indigenous medical practices.

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