Freetown, Baby!

Merecin Man by jc2010sl
September 23, 2010, 7:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The corridors of the Youyi building (where the Ministry of Health is based) are frequently peopled by hawkers and pedlars of various sorts. Some are itinerant salesman, knocking on your door trying to sell chewing gum or mobile phone credit. Others pick a choice spot, usually on a staircase, and ply their wares from a seated position. “Roast meat” that is, kebab, is a favourite, and I recently discovered a purveyor of the best rice akara I’ve tasted. The ubiquitous rip-off DVD seller is also in evidence, although the hits are Nollywood rather than Hollywood. I thought I’d seen all that Youyi had to offer.

Yesterday though I came across a new trader – the Merecin, or as we’d have it in English, the Medicine Man. He was doling out some sticky fluorescent yellow liquid to a man by his basket. The patient(?) shuddered momentarily and blinked. “What’s that for?” I asked. “Ulcers, headaches – try some.” I had a sniff – it was sweet and strongly alcoholic smelling. “What else do you have?” He proceeded to show me a range of herbs, liquids and powders that he claimed could heal just about any ailment. I was particularly intrigued by one syrup that could cure both high and low blood pressure. “Really?” I asked. “Oh yes” he said, quite offended.

“What does the Ministry of Health think about this?” I asked. “Oh, I’m licensed by the Pharmacy Board” he said. Somehow I wasn’t convinced and decided to give his elixirs a miss.



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