Which Witch: Juju/Tylenol or Placebo/noplacebo?


Every time Dorine Gono goes to Liberia to work on the completion of the hospital, she always sends medical supplies such as Tylenol, band-aids, gauze, bottled drinking water, etc. These are common items that you and I take for granted, but in Liberia, especially in the remote areas such as Sanniquellie where we are building the hospital, they are critical medicinals that make a huge difference in peoples' health and well being.

I remember Dorine telling me a story about how she became very ill due to a spell from a local witch doctor who was actually a distant relative very jealous of Dorine's building of the hospital.

Now, it must be understood, Dorine is a highly trained RN. Trained both in Liberia and in the US. She is convinced the juju almost killed her. In another story, one of our walls of the hospital that is under construction fell down for no apparent reason. This was also caused by juju. Dorine talked to her jealous witch doctor relative and resolved the issue.

This does raise a very important issue. Witchcraft is on the rise in Liberia and Yei Kaalu will have to continue to address this. Do we leave open office space for the local witch doctors to practice? This will perhaps at least save face so as not in incur any more spells or the perception of spells. Will this also make it feel safe for the local population to come to our hospital without the fear of threat from local juju?

I can hear the skeptics now. Laughing and saying listen to this man talk of superstition and magic. I remind my readers of Western juju that is practice everyday here in the US and in Europe, if not the rest of the world. It's practiced in institutions of higher learning, research labs and in doctors' offices around the world. Yes, the placebo effect is live and well. Let's go one step further into the world of psychosomatics founded by Georg Groddeck and Sigmund Freud. And don't forget how much has been infused into our popular culture i.e., "I'll put a spell on you" by Screamin Jack Hawkins.

It has been said that perception is reality. I will leave this up to the reader to debate internally. I would ask however, that we consider the possibility that witchcraft and its juju medicine play important roles with real consequences in the social and health environments of those communities effected by these perceived experiences. We should not be too quick to judge as we strive to move forward making sure that our perceived notions of progress do not set us on a backward and/or unproductive trajectory.

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