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Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

How baboon urine is making its way to Bulawayo bedrooms

Published on : 29 November 2012 - 5:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Flickr/Derek Keats)
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Baboon urine is dangerous, says medical practitioner

According to prominent Bulawayo medical practitioner Edwin Sibanda, women who use such concoctions are risking their health. He says the baboon urine is classified as acid or chemical, and it’s dangerous for women to put acid in their vaginas.

“A women’s vagina is sensitive,” says Dr. Sibanda. “Putting herbs and other traditional medicine into a vagina could have serious health repercussions.”

Neither is baboon urine good for men. “There is a risk of infection by both the woman and her husband when they have sexual intercourse. Both of them can also expose themselves to germs and bacteria and it’s unhygienic,” says Dr. Sibanda.

He advises women to stop using such love portions and to find other ways of keeping their wayward men at home.

Here in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, there’s been recent demand for baboon urine. Yes, baboon urine. The reason? This primate’s pee is the key ingredient in a love portion meant to keep a husband faithful to his wife. Take the case of Charity...

By Thabo Kunene, Bulawayo

As in most relationships, all was well during the first few months of Charity and Jabulani Sibiya’s marriage. The couple were high school sweethearts and, now in their early 30s, have two children. Yet by the time a year of marriage had gone by, the passion disappeared. Their sex life had died.

Things went from bad to worse when one bright morning last month Charity decided to go through her husband’s cell phone. She was shattered by the discovery of text messages from a secret lover. Shocked and confused, she did not confront Jabulani, but instead turned to a trusted friend. This friend was someone who regularly visited traditional doctors known as sangomas and she told Charity about something that gave her hope.

Love potions, according to one sangoma, have saved many marriages, including those of white people. And, it was suggested, a love potion could keep Charity’s wayward husband at home most of the time – when he was not at work anyway.

Going to the gogo
Speaking freely to me at her workplace, Charity, a secretary at the Bulawayo City Council, appears to be a satisfied woman. She credits a baboon urine mixture with taming Jabulani into becoming a “stay-at-home-husband”.

“I don’t have to lie to you,” she says. “I used Gogo Mahadebe’s love concoction. Look at me now, I am happy and my husband loves me.”

Vox pop from Edwin Ndlovu: "These so-called love portions are also dangerous.”
Vox pop from Edwin Ndlovu: "These so-called love portions are also dangerous.”

After a short interruption from her boss, Charity takes me along to see the famous marriage fixer who had been operating from a ladies toilet at the Egodini taxi rank before municipal police chased her away. We manage to track Gogo (a title meaning ‘granny’) Mahadebe down at her small two-room house, just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre in Makhokhoba township.

As per our culture, I am asked to remove my shoes inside the home of a healer or herbalist.

Pee power
According to Mahadebe, there is power in baboon urine and no man can go astray after encountering it. “You know,” she says, “a baboon is known for urinating only in one spot and hardly forgets where it urinated in the first place.” Following this line of reasoning, a potion containing baboon urine is meant to make married men stick to their wives and never think about other women.

At this moment, I decide to interrupt the old woman. I ask her if what she is doing is no different from witchcraft. She responds: ‘Uyahlanya wena mfana’ [‘You are crazy, young man’]. I have saved many women from divorce because our African medicine works better than that of our Western counterparts.”

I then ask how she manages to get the urine since it’s not easy to see where the baboons urinate. The gogo explains that she has her own people: game rangers who go looking in the national parks or in the forest. “Most of the urine comes from baboons in Victoria Falls tourist resort. There are many baboons there and my boys know how to get the urine from them,” she says.

Mahadebe pays her suppliers $10 for a two-litre pot of urine. For women like Charity, she charges $15 pe consultation and $5 for a follow-up appointment within the same month.

Vox pop from Mercy Mthombeni: "It’s wrong for us to use these love potions to be
Vox pop from Mercy Mthombeni: "It’s wrong for us to use these love potions to be loved."

Lifesaver
Mahadebe asks Charity, now pregnant with her third child, how things are going. The young woman praises the gogo’s love potion, describing how she combined the male baboon urine with powdered tree bark. After mixing the two substances, she applied the concoction to her vagina and waited for her husband to return from work.

“You are a lifesaver,” she says, sitting with her legs crossed. “My husband is now mine alone, faithful, and he has dumped his secret lover.”

These words bring out a smile from the gogo, who assures her that many women have similarly been made happy. She adds: “I hope you did not overdose, my girl, because the smell of the baboon urine – if it’s too much – can make your husband suspicious and refuse to sleep with you.”

Charity replies that she did not exceed the prescribed amount and that her husband had not smelled anything but ordinary perfume. The two, that night, managed to have sex, she reports. Since then, Jabulani has kept demanding it – it’s as though they are young lovers.

And so far, Charity finds the money well spent. “I did what I did to save my marriage and secure the future of our children,” she says. “Children need both parents and I provided that for them. One day they will thank me for doing what I did.”

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