Femi Kusa, the Journalist…
When I became Editor of The Guardian in 1988, the 17th year of my journalism career, I thought of an editorial adventure on which I could embark to improve the flavour of this Lagos based, first Nigerian quality daily newspaper and propel it towards some of its many lofty dreams. The Guardian wished to lead Nigeria to the ever changing world, make her a major player in the unfolding mega trends, and bring the world to Nigeria’s doorstep. At that time, the face of medicine was changing in trend setter Europe and America. But this was largely unknown to many Nigerian doctors, pharmacists, nurses, their patients, health sector policy makers and bystanders. Even where Nigerian plant medicine researchers had become known in academic circles world- wide, not much of their work received deserved media attention in Nigeria. Rather, they were gathering dust on book shelves.
IRONICALLY, Europe and America which suppressed the growth of plant medicines in Nigeria with their drug medicines had become somewhat disillusioned with drug medicine and had begun to return to Mother Nature. So, medicinal herbs were returning, slowly but surely, to the centre stage of medicine, as Traditional Medicine (TM), overwhelmed by drug medicine for about 100 years, again began to regain its popularity, nerves and voice. Just two years beyond 1988, that is in 2000 the World Health Organization (WHO) would direct member nations to legally integrate TM into their national healthcare delivery systems by 2010. In other words, the world train was moving on to another station and may leave Nigeria behind.The relevance of The Guardians 1988 editorial advent into Natural Medicine, like that of this website, and of what we do, is apparent in the fact that Nigeria, always a slow coach, signed the WHO treaty and a similar one by the African Union (AU), but has not complied with the terms two years after the deadline for compliance!
Anyway, Mrs. Elizabeth Kafaru, now of treasured memory, stepped into my editorial adventure at the right time, to run a weekly column on Natural Health in which herbal medicine featured prominently. Adetutu Folashade Koyi, an English honours graduate of Lagos State University (LASU) joined the train. Her father made and sold Nigerian herbal infant medicinal formulas in the 1970s and 1980s. Tutu reported Nigerian TM industry and developments abroad. Mrs Kafaru showed that Europe’s over eulogized herbs also grew here. And where the native doctor industry mystified them, Mrs. Kafaru derobed the masquerade. And me? I ran an occasional column that was part of a four page editorial package which sometimes ballooned to eight pages, the biggest natural health reportorial package at that time in Nigerian news papering. This Section of The Guardian was a roaring success in terms of reader response and market visibility for the newspaper.
Twenty- seven years separate 1988 from today, 2015. Much more water that flowed under the bridge then passes under it now. American, Asian and European plant medicine food supplements sell freely in Nigeria today as part of a global business valued in trillions of US dollars yearly. But Nigeria is still a feeble player in this market although, compared with other active parts of the world, our forest and fields, fertile and unpolluted, parade bio-medicine resources of unequaled quality and quantum favoured by beautiful weather year-round. For about 17 years now, I have run a regular Thursday Nigerian newspaper column, first in The comet and now in The Nation News Paper. That must add up to more than 700 columns. Many of the readers of this column always ask if I have written a book where they can find old columns they may have missed.
This website is, in part, a response to that request. It will give form to my 1988 editorial adventure in The Guardian which, in humility, I believe has helped to popularize plant medicine in Nigeria. There is still a lot of work to do, no doubt. The Nigerian Traditional Medicine Bill is yet to become law as directed by the WHO and the AU. TM practitioners are also yet to be registered. There is as yet no serious attention given to research and product development funding. Even official promotion of Nigerian plant medicines is still largely lip service.
As part of my work is ADVOCACY, emancipation of Nigerian TM from foreign TM domination or colonisation is a cornerstone of the pursuit of my work and this website. This is without prejudice to the right and access of everyone to information and medicinal proprietary plant medicines or natural health services anywhere in the world.
In fact, hints of this were given in the logo of my column, NATURAL REMEDIES FOR SOUND MIND AND BODY, and in my personal motto.
The column says: “The following remedies, in some cases derived from the personal experiences of the author or other people, or based on information from the review of natural medicines literature, are by no means prescriptive or exhaustive but intended, nevertheless, to acquaint readers with the principles of natural and healthful living.”
Of my dream, I have stated elsewhere: “our goal is to support well-meaning efforts which unravel and propagate gifts of Mother Nature for keeping the human body healthy and viable, without ill-effect, for the purpose of its creation.”
We humans did not create our body, hence, cannot unilaterally decide what to feed it with to make it healthy, or how to nurse it back to health when it falls ill. These decisions belong to the adamantine Will of the Creator of the human body. Many scriptural writings give us hints of them. One that I am familiar with is Gen 1:21 of the Christian Bible. It says: “And God said behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seeds, to you it shall be for meat.”
If Christians read Gen. 1:29 along with a part of the Revelation which speaks of a river lined on both side banks, the leaves of which would be ”for the healing of the nations”, they may recognize in them hints of a Creation Plan for the nurture and healing of their bodies. In their book, THE MIRACLE OF FASTING, father and daughter Paul C. Bragg, N.D., PhD, and Patricia Bragg, N.D, Ph.D., speak of ”The essence of Creation Plan”.
”Mother Nature knows no mercy. There is no thought or discrimination in the workings of eternal laws that govern all things. Evenly, ruthlessly, Eternally, Mother Nature works according to fixed laws for good and for ill. Thinking as little of us creatures that build and die on this earth as the boy at play thinks of the anthill beneath his foot. It is for the ant to select a safe, secluded place for her nest, or suffer the consequences. It is for us to study Mother Nature’s eternal laws and adjust ourselves to them or suffer.
Mother Nature has no time or thought for individual cases! Fire will burn the innocent child and spare the hardened criminal who knows the way of fire. It is well for us that (it) is so, for our real education is acquired by the body of the Natural Laws that will not cuddle or spare us. Mother Nature is unsentimental and powerful in her work on this earth, disregarding man’s sense of justice or injustice! She may crush the just man and his family who disobey the eternal laws with disease and premature aging, yet spare the criminal who follows the natural plan of physical health.”
My prayer is that this work, and many others like it, help to turn the gaze of health seekers away from man-made poisonous drugs to healing medicines of Mother Nature anchored in the eternal Will of God. AMEN
Femi Kusa, the Nature Doctor…
any of my friends and professional colleagues often ask me: “Femi, how did you come by this?” What they mean by this is what, to them, is a mid-career switch from newspaper journalism to alternative medicine. For some of them, I have the time for a long explanation. For some of those I may not have been able to give a satisfactory answer, I hope the following explanation will answer the question. It is only by thoroughly looking at my life all over that a picture appears to summarise an answer which emerges before my gaze.
WHEN I look at my life all over, a picture appears before my gaze which shows how well guided our steps and paths always are, even when we are unconscious of such guidance. I was only nine when my mother left the flesh in 1959 after the birth of her fifth child. The first of her children, she left an unvoiced message for me in her wardrobe which was beyond my comprehension at that tender age. It was an earthenware pot in which some cowries and some palm kernels were kept. One of my aunties was to inform me much, much later, after I may have been in my forties, that the earthenware pot and its content were meant to be a reminder to my mother about the guidance she was to offer me in respect of my work life in adult years. My auntie said this pathway was foretold by the local diviner who, in those days, gave parents, mothers in particular, hints about the person of the human soul who had just come to them as a child.
I was too young for this story to make any serious impression on me. So did the information I came by in high school days that my paternal grandfather was a herbal medicine consultant to the Awujale of Ijebuland of his days. So did my village name, BABATUNDE (Father returns), which suggests that I may be my paternal grandfather’s re-incarnation.
In one’s life journey on this earth towards what may eventually become a passion or even a calling, mightier and higher forces guide one’s way up from one lower rung of a ladder to higher one’s until one comes face to face with what may become a passion, goal, or even a calling. In my third year at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, I became friends with an older classmate from Ogbomoso town, Francis Agbejimi. We were members of the Ministerial Society. Every Sunday, we rode bicycles to village churches where we were preachers. I longed to be a Baptist pastor someday. That year, I suffered from a serious constipation which the school dispensary could not handle. Francis Agbejimi took me to the Baptist Hospital, Ogbomoso. The doctor i saw helped me get rid of the constipation. I loved the hospital’s neat environment, the way and means through which the nurses and the doctors attended to patients and, as i had a new lease of life through them, I longed to become a doctor. But months later, this dream was threatened by a taxi cab driver who knocked me down in ibadan, while I tried to cross a road in the company of Mukaila Shomuyiwa, one of my classmate. My right femur was fractured, and I ended up at the then Adeoyo General Hospital for three months. The carpet of experiences which the healing of my femur wove around me led me to study Health Science in the fourth form at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, under Mr S.O Kolade. In those days, “O” Level Health Science was called HUMAN ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY and HYGIENE. The syllabus covered not only all the systems of the human body, anatomy and physiology, but, also, introduced the student to the life and work of great doctors such as Dr. Lius Pasteur the Germ Theory and pasteurisation; Dr. Isaac Jenner and vaccination and innoculation and Dr Koch, among others. The student was examined in no fewer than five diseases prevalent at that time. These included Malaria, Tuberculosis, Cholera, Smallpox and Chickenpox.
Fired in medicine as my interest may have been, my paths to it were diverted by some events. In those days, we did not have career counsellors in school. In my family, I would be among the first generation of university-educated persons. There were only five universities (Lagos, Ibadan, Nsukka, Ife and Zaria). Their student placements were limited and, so, competition for professional courses was rife. So, while waiting to go to the University, I took a job on March 8, 1971 as trainee sub-editor at the Daily Times newspaper, at that time “the biggest daily sale south of the Sahara”. Being a journalist was exciting, and, in 1974, I found myself at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, studying Mass Communications. WHEN I look back and down from that ladder of life these days, I marvel out how each lower rung has been an upbuilding block for the one above it. At Nsukka, I did not shove aside my interest in medicine. One of the first books I bought at the bookshop was titled NINETY DAYS TO A BETTER HEART. Another was SECRETS OF THE ATOMIC AGE. In the library I followed health and medical development in such professional journals as THE LANCET and AMBIO. In retrospect now, I assume it may have been known to those guiding forces that I would be helped in my advocacy and practice of Alternative Medicine by experiences of a journalism career.
I returned to the Daily Times newspaper in 1978 after youth service and wrote occasionally on health matters. Even when I joined the Guardian newspaper in 1983 with a heavy work schedule of about 18hours desk work every day on the average, I still had time to think about health and to include it in the newspaper’s reportorial activities, as explained in FEMI KUSA, THE JOURNALIST.
My interest had been rekindled by a deeper understanding of the meaning of life which I obtained in THE GRAIL MESSAGE, IN THE LIGHT OF TRUTH by Abd-ru-shin. It led me back to Nature, and to the connections between man and Nature and the entire Creation. One of the lectures speaks about the need to care for “the healthy human body”. It takes many of the readers of THE GRAIL MESSAGE a long time to grapple with the admonitions in this Lecture. This Lecture speaks of the “healthy” body, not necessarily of a “sick” body. In other words, through nuture and care, we are not to let our bodies fall ill. And Mother Nature has provided all that we need for this Venture. Besides, THE GRAIL MESSAGE touched me deeply with a statement which I cannot capture in its exact words now, and, so, will strive to render in my own words…neither drugs nor injections, but the right kinds of foods and drinks bring lasting health. In THE GRAIL MESSAGE, I would also read about the mystery of the blood, radiations of the blood, composition of the blood and the fact that the disease of cancer cannot strike any tissue or organ in any human body with a healthy optimally functioning liver. It would take the medical Establishment almost 50years after this definitive statement was made to find, through research, the first correlations between the onset of a cancer anywhere in the body and a weak or even sick liver. Happily, today, many Alternative Medicine Practitioners and holistic orthodox medicine doctors employ detoxification of the liver and other organs as a therapy goal or objective in any protocol for infectious and degenerative diseases.
PREPARED thus far for work in natural medicine, it took the diagnosis of my grandmother’s breast lump in 1980 as breast cancer for my eyes to open wide, as we say. Apart from my stepmother, Atinuke, my maternal grandmother, Sarah Kehinde Olunaike, was the only mother I knew in my growing up years, my mother, Ronke, having left the flesh when I was nine. I sought help for my grandmother in teaching hospitals in lagos and ibadan, and at the Catholic church hospital at Ijebu-Igbo. But all the doctors said there was no cure for cancer. In Lagos, masectomy (surgery to remove the breast) was suggested. But my grandmother would not hear of it. She’d rather return to her Maker as whole as He made her, she said. Some people said I should not have told her what the doctors wanted to do. Spiritually speaking, I knew that was wrong. It was her body; it was her life. She may not forgive me if I deceived her. And isn’t deceit a sin? Who likes to be deceived? what if she took the bitterness into the beyond and it became a binding bond which would not separate us when each person should be free to go his or her own way, homewards to paradise, before the liquidation of the material spheres and every human soul still trapped in it?
To cut a long story short, my grandmother died of the breast cancer. Suddenly, my eyes opened wider than before. Hitherto, I thought of cancer as a European or American disease. Now, not only was it in Nigeria, it had killed the person closet to me. There is hardly anyone who would not know fear in these circumstances. Somehow, my fear gave rise to the conviction that it was possible to survive cancer, terrible as it was, even if no cure for it had been found. I also began to lose interest in public news journalism and gained interest in human development journalism focused on health. I remembered the therapeutic hope of a healthy and optimally functioning liver. I began to buy books on the authors, who, like me, believed that the Creation of the Almighty Father was beautiful and any ugly spot in it must be traced to the immature works of man. I did not know that, at that time, a revolution had begun in the United States led by some orthodox doctors and researchers to turn the gaze of man towards the healing forces of Mother Nature. Some of my first contacts were Drs. Robert Atkins, Max Gerson, William Lane, Paul and Patricia Bragg, George Malkhmus, Marilyn Glenville, Norman Sheally and Caroline Myss, Bill Henderson, Jean Anderson, Barbara Deskins, David Hoffman, Jethro Kloss, to mention a few. Dr Atkins advocated the consumption of essential fats when his colleagues opposed the consumption of fats. Dr Max Gerson recovered from perenal migraines treated with fruit and vegetable juices to heal many terrible cancers on the same protocol. Dr Lane discovered that the cartilage of shark prevented this fish from developing cancer and wrote two provocative books on this subject. Today, shark cartilage is one of the recipes in cancer therapy. The Braggs opened the first health shop in the United States. Dr Malkhmus rejected chemotherapy and healed himself of cancer using carrot juice and other juices. Sheally, a surgeon, and Myss a journalist and spiritualist, popularised energy or chakra medicine and wrote the book The Creation of Health. Henderson believed that chemotherapy, not cancer, killed his wife, and that orthodox medicine was suppressing natural cures for cancer. He researched the case histories of cancer survivors and the natural remedies which helped them. He published his findings in the book Cancer Free. Hoffman wrote a great book Holistic Herbal, a compendium of many herbs and their specific actions on particular organs and systems. Kloss wrote Back to Eden. Johanna Brandt survived her stomach cancer in South Africa on grapefruit juice diet. Dr Anne Wigmore cure her breast cancer with wheatgrass juice.
The encouraging list of Nature’s greats is endless. Armed with confidence spiritually and from the work of many great writers, doctors and healers that I was on the right path, I began to write recipes for not only members of my family who were sick, but for other people as well. Sometimes, I bought herbs and gave them free to people I knew would benefit from them, just to prove the point that herbs work. One day, my father remarked casually: Now, I know you are my father. At first, I limited my column in THE COMET newspaper, where it flowered, to just two columns. First, I did not wish to stress myself beyond that. Secondly, I wished to protect the adventure from other colleagues who were against herbal medicine exposure in the newspaper for whatever reasons. But my wife, Dayo, a former Head of Political Science Department of Lagos State University(LASU), a former director of LASU’s Refugee Center, a former director (External Conflict) of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolutions, in the presidency, Abuja, an uncompromising critic who, surprisingly approved of the texture and directions, thought I may be aborting the service I was meant to render to humanity, if I did. So, I yielded to her supple pressure and expanded the column to the form in which it exists today. Before enrolling at the medical school of Lagos State University, Tope, my eldest son, researched my subjects while I was at work. In medical school, he received from me every month or thereabout a steady supply of brain health food supplements which he needed to keep him steps ahead of the pressure of his professors. It is instructive that he did not breakdown for one day in medical school. Seun, his younger brother stepped into his shoes. And although he read Law, his knowledge of herbs is vast. From time to time, he becomes passionate about one herb or the other. This month may be a Tumeric month, the next may be the month of Cayenne pepper. I am not surprised that he his a distributor of T&T Virgin Noni Juice. Mrs Veronica Momoh, a retired Permanent Secretary in Benin city, Edo State of Nigeria, and an avid reader of my column, calls my last son, Ayo, “Spirulina Boy“. The name came out of a mention of him in one of my columns. His mother and I noticed he hated vegetable and would not eat a meal in which he found a pod of okro. So, I asked him to take Spirulina for Vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It is rightly called THE FOOD OF THE 21ST CENTURY. It is given to astraunauts in the United States as a food supplement during their space voyages. And the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends it for children, young people, aging people and convalescents. Ayo hated the tastes and would not touch it. One day, I brought home literature on Spirulina and made him read it to us over a meal at the dining table. To our surprise, he placed all the blame for his hatred of Spirulina on me. He said I did not explain to him the goodness as the literature did. Since that day, he agreed Spirulina could be spread on his food, and we nicknamed him SPIRULINA BOY. I have no doubts, as I have told Mrs Momoh, that someday, Ayo would grow and sell Spirulina. For he has a University degree in Agriculture and Genetics behind him now.
One other person I would like to acknowledge in the making of FEMI KUSA, THE NATURE DOCTOR is Mr Gbenga Omotosho, editor of THE NATION newspaper. We were together at The Guardian newspaper and journeyed together to the Comet newspaper. When I retired from the Board of Directors of that newspaper and relinquished my office of Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief, I thought I was taking a bow from it all, and actually signed off my column, looking forward to new life in a health food store. Mr Omotosho read the valedictory column and objected to the cessation of my editorial contributions to The Comet newspaper. I obliged, and have continued to write for more than 10years now, even after the Comet became defunct and The Nation succeeded it.
Looking back and down on that ladder of life, I can see and feel a mightier hand which has guided my paths from the cradle till this day. I hope the foregoing explanations answer the question my friends and professional colleagues often ask me: “Femi, how did you come by this?”