The Covid-19 global pandemic has forced us into a precarious space, where we have to rethink almost everything about life, our work environment, how we use technology, how we socialize and interact with each other, how we run schools, how we show caring, and so much more.
We have an opportunity here to rethink how we can use this disruption and those that will come in the future to advance our cultural and traditional medical practices.
So much of Western/modern medicine is already based on African knowledge systems’ cultural appropriation, which we as Africans look down on.
The appropriation of African ideas is a manipulation that involves stealing African ideas, presenting them as Western, while convincing Africans that the same practices are inferior.
Traditional healers possess a wealth of knowledge of the Covid-19 outbreak and global lockdown. Countries such as China, Russia, the UK, and trying to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus are still exploring similar methodologies to what Onesimus shared with Mather to fight smallpox spread.
African traditional healers possess a wealth of knowledge about different herbs and their uses. They are still keen on collaborations despite running the risk of erasure and exclusion from historical and scientific records. Similarly, Onesimus’s contribution was undermined.
As Africans, we need to prioritize and value our knowledge systems, which is the one positive reflection we should gain from the current global pandemic. We need to do better in investing in our cultural identity and indigenous knowledge.
We can learn a lot from Asian countries such as South Korea, India, which have done this successfully in many social structures, but more noticeably, in their healthcare systems that surpass even some of the best Western healthcare systems.
Doing this can also potentially restore black identity and create a sense of pride. We see our practices represented in the mainstream and labeled as significant scientific contributions instead of an alternative.