The Mysterious Tree of Life Or Death - Okoubaka!
The Yoruba call it Igi Nla. Anunu Ebe in Igbo. It is the tree under whose canopy no plant can grow and on whose branches no bird perches. Most of its leaves are wrapped in cobweb. The mystery of Igi Nla found its way into our Proverbs...the thunder can strike the Baobab and shred the Iroko tree; but it dare not strike Igi Nla. Why?
Why does Igi Nla stand alone? Okoubaka is revered across Africa and more so in Nigerian mythology. The potency of phytochemicals in the bark of this tree is not in doubt. It cures leprosy and syphilis. It is the answer to many illnesses known to our forefathers. It has found its way into tinctures sold in Europe and Asia. How?
Very few research has been done on Igi Nla. Even its taxonomy remained contentious until recently. Less than ten Igi Nla are standing in Nigeria today. Fewer are scattered in Ivory Coast and Ghana. The Congo basin has a few more.
The science and art of Yoruba medicine will be documented for posterity. We will work to preserve the knowledge of our forefathers. The time has come.
Source: Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
Photo credit: NetDoktor.de