Let’s Talk About the Lies Perpetuated About African Culture as Primitive and Backwards and to What End…

By Anjana Kagume

My great grandfather was a medicine man. His name was actually Kagume. And he used herbs and plants to heal people. He could go as far as the forest to find some specific plants. This must have been something he learned from his own father though I don’t have that information.

He passed on this knowledge to my grandmother as a little girl. My grandma who passed on recently aged 93- 97 (their birth years are a matter of estimation based on events). But something happened during my grandmother’s early years, Christianity came in full force and she became an ardent believer.

She still possessed traditional healings knowledge and if you became sick while visiting her she would go to her farm and come back with plants, which she could boil or crash and make you take and of course you got better immediately. Her farm has neem, eucalyptus, sage, rosemary, myrh, all kinds of wild fruits, berries and trees.

She however found this part of her primitive or shameful as she was proud to have embraced modern ways like formal education and modern medicine. But most importantly Jesus Christ.

My grandmother lost her only two daughters, who died as infants immediately after getting vaccinated. I sometimes wonder if they had just been without vaccine like the people before them, would they have lived? This was in the early forties (1940s).

My father who was her lastborn and never met those sisters was always a critique of adapting of Western ideologies or ways . He taught history and was famously not a Christian , so there was for instance no church wedding for my parents.

I recently learned that because my mother didn’t have a church wedding, she was not allowed to receive holy communion. My mother is a staunch Catholic and you can imagine the shame that this came with especially because she was the headmistress of a Catholic high school and we lived in the school. Also, she knew this about my dad before getting married, was it a craving for dangerous living? Lol.

Our local priest apparently tried to assist and gave my mother a document called something Italian I can’t remember. This was to be signed by my dad and she could commence her communion. Of course my dad laughed it off and asked what on earth such a document meant in the scheme of life.

Anyway, needless to say my mom only started receiving holy communion after my dad passed away. Like a priest gave her permission to do so. Aren’t some things ridiculous?

Something important I should mention. The church is so powerful that it chooses whether to bury someone or not. Even today. Someone like my dad who had rejected the church posed a condrum for the burial. The priests who conducted the service did so because they were friends of the family. This priests had also actually baptised us as children as a favour to my dear mother because with no church wedding I guess we were born in sin?

People sometimes question why I find religion ridiculous. It’s the way people have given power to an institution that came here to Africa with an agenda.

Christianise to Civilise to Utilise.

We were civilised. We are here because our ancestors knew about life, and health,and family, and food, and work.

When you see a broken society it’s because that society lost its way. And doesn’t know how to go back. And we honestly can’t go back. But we can start learning. We can start questioning.

Thankfully my dads cousin followed in the ways of Kagume, his own grandfather. He’s a somewhat famous herbalist in his town. Every morning we take his herbal teas- sage, turmeric, rosemary, etc We also take his powdered concotions when sick and we get well. Most importantly he’s part of a team that’s developing the first herbalists curriculum with KICD. It helped that he studied the subject.

Let’s go back to our roots. And heal ourselves.


Please use this for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for seeking out professional help. The views expressed here in are  from my personal experiences as well as from those I have interacted with. And while one may resonate with what is shared, it’s not a substitute for appreciating your own unique personal experience. Always do your own research and due deligence on any topic to guard against being hoodwinked

Published by nasewangari

Clinical Psychologist| Humanist| Great passion for demystifying and decolonizing mental health

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