I once lived in a house with a man we conveniently called Baba Cotonou because he was from Benin. He worked as a night security guard at a big church in town. Baba Cotonou was kind and smiled a lot. He did not have his family in town so was around a lot sharing jokes with neighbours. One thing that stood out about him was his super large scrotum – obvious no matter how baggy his clothing were and sometimes he looked uncomfortable when walking about. It must have been about 5 kilograms then, I don’t remember ever talking about it with anyone.
Then in my village was Baba Kemi with the biggest hernia ever, bigger than Baba Cotonou’s – I heard that he had been ‘nursing’ it for a long time and occasionally there would be people coming over for etutu (pleading to the gods) and eventually he will be given lots of different concoctions in form of creams to rub over his protruding scrotum with the hope it will disappear – never did. Baba Kemi’s hernia grew bigger by the day and sadly died of hernia related complications. I later heard Baba Kemi spent twice the money he would require for surgery on potion rubs – he was convinced his hernia could disappear – he was terrified of surgery.
A few years ago Wesley Warren, from Las Vegas and his fascinating story of 132 lbs scrotum made the news, it was then that I realised untreated hernia could get very big, a type of illness most common with men than women and that it affects people around the globe not just Nigeria – so maybe, no chance of it disappearing without surgery then?
Today in Nigeria both in the cities and rural areas, many people are still under the belief that hernia could disappear with potion rub, they spend so much money on herbal medicines and in the end had to go the surgery way. A few years ago a friend of a family member who lives in Lagos spent ₦40k for various Epa Ijebu sellers in Lagos with a promise that his hernia would shrink and later disappear all together – this never happened. By the time he came to his senses that he has been ripped off, he was broke and had to raise money from family and friends for surgery. He was lucky.
I am sure some of our traditional medicines do work for various illness, not sure how our forefathers dealt with hernia issues in their time but what is clear today is that surgery is required to rid of hernia.
It is sad that citizens are very trusting and are parting ways with their hard-earned money for the medicines that clearly would not help them especially in the case of hernia.