My father is a nurse and growing up whenever I got sick I always used to run to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and get some pills. When I got a headache, a tummy ache or anything of the sort I knew we had medicine.
When I was seven I got a new maid who came from the outskirts of the Save river which flows into Mozambique. My maid had lived in a rural area and had never known what a hospital looked like. She was delivered in her mother’s hut by a local woman. My maid’s father was a traditional doctor and whenever she got sick as a child her father would prepare a local herbal treatment for her. Whilst looking after me, I remember how she rarely ever felt sick. The one time she fell ill she had a terrible cold. She was bad ridden and refused to take the pills my father gave her. She then went outside and took Guava leaves and boiled them with lemon juice. She drunk it and after a day, she was strong and healthier like nothing ever happened.
One day I came back from school saying how our headmaster had to leave because he was suffering from cancer. She then told me about the “miracle tree” that made you not have illnesses such as Hypertension. She said the tree’s powder could make you not even get cancer. Her father had gotten this powder from Tonga man who at that time was 105 years old. Of course when I heard this I laughed and thought that my maid was telling me one of her exaggerated stories again. However, she went on to say that she would bring me this tree the next time she went back home. So after Christmas she brought back the tree. She said the tree was called The Moringa tree. I went on Google typed “Moringa” what I found amazed me.
The Moringa tree is a tree that is being grown by the Tonga people in Victoria Falls. The Tonga people in Zimbabwe are an indigenous people with a life expectation of about 60 years and a very small percentage suffer from HIV/AIDS. The trees parts can be ground into a powder and when you use it has been said that this tree is truly a wonder tree.
Recently it has been now been taken into research institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe where research is being done to see if the tree can chemically be integrated into a drug. Given this, I feel like there is an opportunity for African medicine to co-exist with Western medicine. However, my fear is that African herbalists should not be exploited and this knowledge should be used to improve Health in Zimbabwe and possibly help advance medicine on the African continent.