Q&A with Piers Gibbon: Goat Blood Bath

Video highlights from The Witch Doctor Will See You Now

dead chicken
Why did you stay in Yaoundé and what was it like?

We stayed in an apartment in Yaoundé in order to check out the amazing range of treatments available from traditional healers there. It is a big bustling noisy African city and the treatments were extraordinary.

What was the worst/most challenging thing that you had to do in Yaoundé?

There were a lot of animal sacrifices done on our behalf - that is difficult to watch if you can't see the medical reason for it.

What was the most enjoyable part of the trip for you?

Getting out into the jungle with the Bagyeli people - it is amazing to see the range of plants they use for medicine.

What treatment and result surprised you most in Cameroon?

There was one treatment with snake oil and a so far unidentified herb, and our contributor reported that he could actually feel the effects penetrating his skin.

Are you now a convert/believer in African Traditional Medicine?

I am very impressed by the plant knowledge and I'd love to do more research on some of the plants.

What were your thoughts when you first entered the Bagyeli village and witnessed the tribal dances?

It was an amazing glimpse into the culture of the Bagyeli - sadly they are being gradually forced out of their rainforest home by logging.

How frustrating was it that so much of the medicinal ingredients were kept secret from you in Cameroon?

I can totally understand that the healers are wary of sharing their ancient knowledge - some people have taken this knowledge and used it, and it is unclear whether the healers ever get to share the revenue generated.

How difficult was it to witness so much animal death as part of the treatments?

This was difficult - I personally do not really believe that animal sacrifice is likely to help a medical problem so it felt unfair on the animals.

What did the chicken heart taste like?

I swallowed it whole - no chewing - so all I got was a faint taste of blood and fat.

What did it feel like to be covered in goat blood?

It didn't feel too bad but the smell, and the insects, were not pleasant.

Would you like to go back to Cameroon?

I'd like to do more research - with the healer's permission - on the plants that are used in the remedies. So yes, please, I'd like to go back!

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