HERBS FROM AFRiCA
For herbs He created for us to heal from their leaves and roots
Of Gala la Tshwene herbal tea,
To green us more than a green leaf of the Mophaphama herb,
And before I had known about the Old Shoshong hills
My curious being had bewildered its common sense just beyond the horizon,
And Africa’s mountains stood taller than distant shadows of history,
For in such mountains were hidden treasures in cages and patches
Of rocks patterned on each other’s shoulder. I wonder how victims
Of civilization had narrowly escaped their culture for a deviant one,
But I am this child that embraces Mother Nature’s green,
The herbs in the wild, the wild herbs of our forefathers’ pride,
From which health was just a mere concern to the elders,
The roots are pounded from Mupindu, Mongovo, Mundeverewashoro
And Mangore trees with Mutjimatji tubers
To heal my swollen being. And boys had their own,
Women and girls theirs, and so were men.
The day would shine behind the mountain, often than not
To the intruder. But the mystic is natural, for I am the soil
From which herbs’d grow. I am the rain that waters nature’s abundant seeds
For the new season. And I’d rise before the full moon to retrace my footprints
In the sands of Africa. For I am Africa’s descendant but a world servant, truth is
I am this human you’d strangely look in the face, because I am the roots,
I am just a knight rider, a paddle between hands of a herbs man,
The herbs, the science of my mother’s breast milk, my father’s treadmill,
For lovers had escaped behind the mountain a longtime ago,
And fossils their bodies had become I suppose, for ages had gone…
But phrases of the African medicine have been ignored
By the scientific kind, for they’re known to be barbaric to the foreign eye,
Yet history fails to explain how ancient people survived without Science…
For religion is a barrier, especially a strange one, a deceptive one,
It overlooks the very human I am, the human in you,
And I find it hard to understand the person I am, for the future confuses
My present person, but I know the past person I was,
I was the great medicine man, the native herbalist, I was
Controlled by the law of nature, the imaginative kind, I was
A strange face, for the world had gone plastic and too fragile
To handle. Machines and industries have and continue to pollute
Skies of the ozone layer. And herbs gardens and fields in the wild
Have become desert portions as desert winds spread their windy wings
Towards mother earth. O herbs from Africa! Heal my swollen being
As I pound the roots and leaves to boil by the fireplace for my body being,
And the herbs I smoke, chew and spices to my vegan dish,
And of course I’d really love to be the mouth piece
Of communities and brethren of peace
For peace to reign us more as I shout out these
Lines in stanzas without clicks between my phaana but trees
And the grass green before winter days. I am a traditionalist, a witch
To the naked eyed morons with capitalist mind, I am just a wish,
And I wish my forefathers had known about me
Before gone. I wish my ancestors’d surround me
Before dawn. For the world has become just a mere senseless being
Where peace has escaped the prisoner’s plea.
Onalethuso Petruss Buyile Mambo Ntema
The Voice of a Shadow, 2017 ©Onalethuso Ntema, copyright protected.
Translation of words in setswana and the Hambukushu native tongue:
Gala la Tshwene/Mophaphama - herbal trees for tea. Orator has it that the herbs boost the immune system and general health.
Mupindu - herbal tree from which the roots are pounded (powdered) or boiled raw. The tree is believed to be an erection stimulant for an ultimately gratifying sexual action.
Mongovo & Mangore - indigenous herbs for cleansing the kidney.
Mundeverewashoro - The herb is believed to purely cleanse blood and an erection stimulant for an ultimately gratifying sexual action.
Mutjimatji - The herb is believed to purely cleanse blood and an erection stimulant for an ultimately gratifying sexual action.
Mophaphama herbal tree (tea) from Old Shoshong hills, Botswana. Photo: Prnc Hyah Photography, 2013.