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3 - ‘Much Better Suited Than We Are, as Regards Their Health Care’

African Botanical Expertise and Medical Knowledge on the Gold Coast

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2021

Kalle Kananoja
Affiliation:
University of Oulu, Finland
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Summary

By concentrating on the interaction between indigenous informants and European settlers, this chapter highlights African botanical expertise and medical knowledge on the Gold Coast. Just like in Angola and Kongo, local medical knowledge emerged as a viable healing alternative for European settlers, who were confined to West African coastal enclaves and could not always count upon a steady supply of imported European medicines. Cultural go-betweens, many of them women, provided everyday healthcare and facilitated Europeans’ access to local healers when necessary. This can be detected in English, Dutch and Danish sources on the Gold Coast, which are examined in this chapter. Europeans who settled in West Africa experimented with local medicinals and sought to tap the sources of indigenous healing knowledge by consulting with their African companions and slaves and by seeking access to specialist healers. Some of them accumulated knowledge that allowed them to act as their own doctors with a mixed bag of medicines.

Type
Chapter
Information
Healing Knowledge in Atlantic Africa
Medical Encounters, 1500–1850
, pp. 80 - 102
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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