Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Giving dogs super powers
Our part time gardener is of an indeterminate age. He does his job on a timescale known only to him. He moves around the compound cutting grass and shrubs and attending to the dogs in a slow, inexorable pattern. Sometimes he sits in the shade for a hour or two and sleeps. Remember that temperatures in Accra hover always above 30 degrees with high humidity. The sun is like paint stripper on the skin. We have anecdotal conversations once in a while. Because I research local medicinal plants and we grow them, I pass on what I glean. Locals here have forgotten the efficacy of what burgeons around them. For example, a shrub called bitter leaf prevents malaria. Chewing the leaves kills parasites in the blood.
He was saying yesterday that his forefathers knew such things. He was busy coating the Doberman with shea butter and spraying both it and the bitch, a blonde Alsatian, with a spray I concocted from soursop leaves. This is a summary of what he said.
“My grandfather had six dogs. To protect them he went into the bush and collected plant leaves, bark from trees and roots. These he boiled and then bathed the dogs in the juice for a week. This made the dogs strong. In those days there were lions and animals with long back legs and short front ones. They could open doors and kill your creatures (chickens, cattle) but once the dogs were ready nothing could harm your beasts. If a lion tried to bite a dog it would jump back as if it had touched an electric fish. The dogs could not be cut by anything. Anyone coming to the village with a gun could not shoot the dogs. The bullets would never hit them. This knowledge has died with the forefathers.”
Our gardener became a Muslim in 1977, the only one of his generation. He is sad that the old ways and the old knowledge are not being maintained and that he, himself, does not carry them inside him. He knows that they are at odds with modern religions which stamp out ancient lore in the interests of a single god..