Snake Oil From The Witch Doctor Supermarket


Whilst travelling in Northern Ghana on a day trip to Mole park which is a natural game reserve with wild life. I stopped in Tamale market for a walk around as it was a market day which draws villagers from all the small surrounding rural villages.

Tamale is the capital of the Upper East cluster of towns and villages in Northern Ghana. The market was full of curiosities that you will never see anywhere else in world. One particular lane of stalls that interested me was a lane of stalls that were all manned by men. These shops were the equivalent of a witch doctor supermarket.

As they sold skulls of various animals, hides from various animals, feathers, different types of clay and so many things that you will never find anywhere else. I have come to expect the odd and eccentric when travelling in Ghana but Tamale market really left me with a different impression.  The witch doctor stalls sells supplies to people who visit a juju or a traditional who demands for items such as an animals skull. People go to juju men and witch doctors believing they can help to call on spirits dwarves, receive healing, come into lots of money, influence others and situations, conquer and influence a love interest. I really could not help myself and so I decided to ask questions so I understood what exactly the stall holders were offering shoppers.

I was told by one of the gentlemen whom I purchased cowries, a kohl bottle and snake oil from that the stall holders themselves were not juju men and neither can they tell or refer you  to the most powerful juju man in Ghana. I believe if they are given some incentives from the witch doctors this may change. The stall holders merely sold the sort of items that witch doctors ask for in Ghana in order to perform rituals.

My best find in the market was the snake oil, which I was told was a python fat. I was told that it is good inflammations and pains so after my long unpleasant journey to Mole park. I was ready to test out the snake oil from the witch doctor supermarket.

I was surprised to find that snake oil actually does work on inflammations. I have had an inflammation since 2005 that I had learnt to live with after physio did not help. The inflammation usually got bad after I sat at certain angles and when I was working as an administrator, my university actually rebuilt my office so I could have furniture that supported my discomfort after an occupational therapist came round to assess the office furniture I used daily.  This did not get rid of the pain but it helped with my discomfort.

I rubbed some of the snake oil on my knee which was by the end of my journey on fire and some also on my pelvic as I suffered pelvic arthropathy or pelvic girdle pain which started around 5 months into my pregnancy with my last  born. I had tried osteopathy after and during pregnancy which gave temporal relief to my pelvic girdle pain but did not get rid of it but surprisingly after just one application both my 9 and 1/2 years old knee inflammation and pelvic girdle stopped instantly.

I shared this on Facebook and completely forgot about it and my past body aches until my mum recently asked to get her some of the snake oil to try it on her sciatica. I asked a member of staff of mine who is from the North of Ghana to get me the oil again which took a few weeks as her family actually had to keep an out for a stray snake that came into their house to kill. I was told by the original seller the fat was from a  python so I naturally requested the same and to my surprise again when my mum used the oil on the point of pain, she has relief.  There is very little to none clinical research freely published that I could access. I am very interested to find out as much as possible to see what other support is there for the healing properties of snake oil.

Assuming there is a good clinical research into the effective therapeutic remedy snake oil offers I think it would create a good source of revenue for people in Northern Ghana. People in that part of the country live in incredible poverty and with unbelievable basics that many people in the villages live in conditions that are just one step away from living in the jungle floor and snakes writhing their way underneath peoples sleeping mats is a daily occurrence.

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