Nigeria expends over $2billion on health tourism annually, Dr. Qazeem Olawale, the Chief Executive/Chief Consultant, Olaking International Holistic Medicine Company (OIHM) has said.
The medical personnel, who made this disclosure during an interview with our correspondent, said Nigeria can save billions of Naira if her citizens embrace indigenous medicine wholeheartedly.
The OIHM boss, who is fondly known as Dr Olaking, recalled that his interest in natural medicine was awakened after he read a report by a renowned medical doctor on how Nigerians spent billions of forex going abroad to treatment for debilitating illnesses such as cancer. “Nigeria government can save billions of Naira if we tap into our indigenous medicine; I mean usage of herbs to treat her cancer patients.”
According to him, many Nigerians were driven to seek treatment abroad due to lack of trust for hospitals and medical personnel in the country.
“Such large sums of money leaking from the economy do a lot of damage to the image of Nigeria. But the greatest damage to the image of our healthcare delivery system is, perhaps, from the recurrent health workers strikes that terrifies and leaves whole families scrambling to remove their sick relatives from public hospitals.
“Doctors are then often labeled as inconsiderate people. We, therefore, owe it to our country, not to just contribute our quota but to consider how to take the subject further and work on a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery in Nigeria,” he said.
The Indian-trained Natural Medicine Doctor attributed this to the fact that Nigeria’s healthcare system remains poorly funded with about 3.5 per cent of the national budget as against 15 per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016, noting that top government officials have continued medical tour abroad at humongous cost which is to the detriment of the nation’s healthcare development.
“Despite the parlous state of our economy, top government functionaries still spend over $2billion on medical tourism overseas annually. This is really worrisome. More curious is the stunning revelation that 30 per cent of those who travel abroad for treatment die with their family having to fly their corpses back with over N5 million,” he stressed.
Tne basic instrument that binds all black people all over the world together is the drum. Even as African slaves moved to Europe, to the Americas and other parts of the world, they did not forget to keep this wonderful musical instrument close to their chests. This is so because, for every African, man or woman, the drum is evocative; it is the basis of the union between the living and the dead. As it comes with different sounds, vibrations, makes and purposes, so does its sundry effects on the soul when it is played. The message of the drum, the rhythms and vibration of its sounds can never be taken for granted or replicated by any other instrument.
This is the reason an aspect of the African Drums Festival in Abeokuta that is now compulsory is the intellectual workshop and discourse designed to deliberate and stimulate on these salient aspects of this instrument. At the workshop, a lot of professional drummers and scholars were drawn from different parts of the world, more so Africa, to discuss the essence of the drum. It is basically to discuss the rhythms, the tonality, the origin, the format, the melody, the message content, the interpretations and more, in order to see if it can be moved to the next level for future relevance.
With the theme of this year’s workshop as drumming the future – drums of life, rhythms of development, a lot of Africans were on hand to lend their voices to the theme. Some of these countries included Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Congo Kinshasa, Haiti. Others were Togo, Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote D’ivoire, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Senegal, and those who came just to be part of the wonderful outing and to see how the efficacy of the drums has become a world-wide phenomenon.
Johman Anikulapo, a journalist and culture activist, opened the floor with emphasis on the need to accord the drum its rightful place as one of the most unifying and outstanding musical instruments in global arena. He described the drum as an inevitable component of African musical heritage. While Professor Wole Soyinka, the festival consultant refers to the rhythms as something we shouldn’t take for granted.
“We forget that they are sometimes generated by the processes of material production. Thus, the cessations of certain rhythms in daily existence provide subtle to strident signals of the loss of certain forms of productivity, often sacrificed for dubious actions of progress…”
Thus, the roundtable became a platform through which the very nature and character of the drum and the vocation of drumming can be distilled in order to discover its potential as a significant instrument for advancing the cause of the society. How then can they be properly projected to help the youths go back to the drums as a way of continuity? This was why the roundtable was held at the Olumo Rock Resort Centre, one of the best tourism enclaves of Ogun State to further expose people to those wonderful sights that make the state an Eldorado of sorts.
The session was handled by a Cameroonian master drummer, scholar and director of Africa Music Market. He is Luc Yatchokeu who made it clear that this is the very instrument that connects Africa and the Diaspora Yatchokeu quickly added, “But now can the youths, I mean the younger ones, conveniently embrace the drums in order to promote, preserve and project its efficacy for posterity? There are new technologies now which seem to propel them on; it is easier to embrace those new concepts and ideas. Yet it is our role to endeavour to keep the drum floating in the musical arena because of its importance and special spell, appeal and relevance in African musical composition. What then is the future of drums in Africa?” he asked as he threw the question open to his colleagues to lend their voices and seek solutions.
Sylvanus Kwashie Kuwor from Ghana believed that this is one of those binding traditions Africans must hold dear and therefore guide jealously. “Yes, the drums belong to us Africans. Therefore it is our tradition. We need to keep them together. In Ghana, we cherish the importance and the place of drums in our traditions. We then have to seek plausible ways to ensure we keep them for the future. The drum is a form of connection between the past and the present.
It is also the repository of the future of the lives of the peoples of Africa, whether here or in the Diaspora”. Kuwor is the head of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana. He also belongs to the African-Trans Disciplinary Research Network where he is noted as a great story-teller, an innovator and more.
Jeleel Ojuade of Nigeria who teaches Performing Arts at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, stated that Africans are so intelligent when they combine the rudiments of the drums to make sounds of different rhythms. It is the movement that produces the rhythm and it is the rhythm that sounds the drum out. “But then when you combine the gong with the drum, the sound it gives you is far more phenomenal.
This is where you have deeper conversation with the rhythm. But how do we transfer this to the future, to the younger generation? We can do so more conveniently through workshops, training, and retraining on the importance of drums”, he presented. Ojuade is also a master drummer, inherited from his forebears. He also plays it when it matters.
From Mali came Cheickne Sissoko who learnt to play drums from his father. He loves the drums so much that he lives on it, professionally. He said: “Yes, in Mali drums have a future. Our people love it, they love the sound of it. Most of our local celebrations – weddings, marriages, church sessions – are interspersed with the drum. I also play at social celebrations and so this helps to continually renew the importance of drum in our traditional lives in Mali”. A seasoned performer, he is the head of the Somane Theatre Troupe in Mali.
From DR Congo came Eddy Mboyo, who is the leader of the Mbonda Elela drumming group. He is not just a songwriter; he is also a choreographer, dancer and percussionist. He said, “I have been a professional drummer for 28 years. I like the way this African Drums Festival promotes African drums. It is good for African governments to wade into this matter. Let governments across Africa come in to ensure that these things we have do not die.
There has to be a concerted effort to encourage the younger ones to learn and play the drums. In DR Congo, we have over 300 types of drums. But our problem is how to harmonize and harness these different drums. Therefore, what I will do now is to take this idea of the festival to my home country”, he promised, saying, “drums remain a unifying factor for blacks all over the globe”.
The Kenyan representative and also a master drummer, Dennis Ngurwe opined that they need great support and backing by the government to make the importance of drum to grow in Kenya. “The drums are there in different shapes. They’ve been there before we were born and they will continue to be there. When the history of drums in Kenya are re-enacted we will remember how they were used to dazzle the audiences and heads of states in 1981 when President Arap Moi was being inaugurated as Chairman of OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. And more. Therefore, we have to lift the drums beyond mere talks”, he said, frowning a bit.
The Algerian called Frendi Sofiane, whose troupe is Babylone Freekan started playing drums at a very young age. “Oh, when you play the drum, the sound it produces will show whether you are happy, sad, moody or confused. It is usually deep with discernible tonality for those who are versed in it. But it can make even the uninitiated to move or stir. It is good when a drummer brings out those moments of sober or serious reflections. Drums thus show total identity, so that you are forced to know who you are and what the rhythm is telling you”. Sofiane also plays congas, tabla marimba, timpani, percussion and other Algerian local instruments.