By Margaret Kamba
HARARE – A chat with an old friend about the various medicinal alternatives over the years got me thinking. We had been talking about his covid19 condition, having suffered twice from the virus due to his asthmatic underlying condition.
His first attack, he claims got him literally shaking, weak in the joints and with a loss of appetite. The recent spate had him being weak he says.
It was during my chat with him today when he said he was still struggling that I suggested he takes zumbani that he reminded me about the remedies people have had over the years.
He spoke about the fungus that grew in water and before he could finish talking about it, I disclosed to him that I had grown up drinking it as well because my grandfather made us drink it.

Then we spoke about the moringa, devil’s claw and then he said now it’s this zumbani. He did not even want to hear about how it was yielding so many results here despite my numerous attempts to share success stories linked to the pandemic. To him it is simply another moringa if not devil’s claw.
It is true that we have been subjected to a lot of medicines and I really do not blame the man for excusing himself from trying out the zumbani. It is however his loss in that he will not be able to share another success story linked to the miracle herb that grows in his own country and has crossed borders to heal many suffering from this particular ailment and many other things.
Those who know zumbani are aware that it does not only have medicinal properties but is also used to ward off spiritual attacks. A zumbani bath is believed to chase away the evil spirits.
Attempts therefore by some young innovative men and women into making zumbani soap is commendable.
Today’s call by President E.D Mnangagwa to have the African Union member States develop the pharmaceutical industry drawing from the scientific knowledge and competent scientists is the way to go.
President Mnangagwa added that there is need for robust strategies to deal with future pandemics.
“I concur with the proposal for more robust strategies to deal with future pandemics and the need to strengthen and review statutes of the Africa-CDC to enable it to fully perform its task,” he said.
“I equally support the call for Africa to develop our own pharmaceutical industry drawing from our rich heritage based scientific knowledge and competent scientists. Zimbabwe further supports calls for the establishment of the Africa Medicine Agency (AMA).”
The critical role and efforts played by such organisations as the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) and the African Union Special Envoys to procure vaccines for AU members can never go unnoticed while that of Afreximbank which will avail financial facilities to enable countries to purchase their covid19 contingencies is also critical.

Questions however must arise as to how much African states would save if they invested in their own home-grown solutions looking at the immense talent spread across the continent.
The covid19 pandemic almost literally turned each of us into innovators and scientists.
Some have been wearing onions in their socks at night for colds and flu relief while others have resorted to eating the onions raw. Steaming has been the order of the day while the harvesting of zumbani and sale has reached high levels. We are indeed surviving and our research institutions ought to read into each of these stories.
Those who grew up drinking guchu or still do, know very well that it is like the eating of an apple that keeps the doctors away. The mixture of the tree roots and whatever else of different trees that does the trick. The occasional eating of intolwane in porridge or drinking it in tea also has its magic trick.

Numerous teas have therefore emerged over time because people have known how important they are to one’s health.
It is however very discouraging to note that there has not been much interest in advanced research into these things by our own. It is people like Michael’s Gelfund who understood the intrinsic value in traditional medicines that devoted their time into learning about some of these things even to the extent of documenting it. It is sad that we do not seem to care about preserving our own heritage and it is almost a given that when uncle so and so dies, the knowledge that he had goes with him. If at all he did attempt to share it, the person to whom this knowledge was left is simply not interested. What then shall become of us?

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