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Ghanaplants: ‘God will die before I die’

 Ghanaplants: ‘God will die before I die’

In Greek mythology, a serpent-like creature, called Hydra, lives in the lake of Lerna. Hydra is said to possess many heads and each time one of the heads is cut off, two heads grow back. Buy one, get two free.

Applied to Kotoko’s motto WOKUM APEM A, APEM BEBA (kill a thousand and a thousand will emerge), it would be if you kill a thousand, two thousand will emerge. In the words of Nassim Taleb, Kotoko is robust whereas Hydra is antifragile (i.e. benefits from, and thrives on, harm).

Greek mythology 1, my grandma’s wisdom 0.

Yet, the idea of antifragility is not lost on my grandma. There is a native plant that thrives on harm and the Twi name is NYAME BEWU ANSA NA MAWU (i.e. God will die before I die). In Ewe, it is called AGBƆMAKU MAKU (i.e. A grass that will not die). The botanical name is COMMELINA NUDIFLORA.

As both the Twi and Ewe names suggest, it takes some effort to kill the herb. It is so stubborn that it grows even on roads! You can cut a piece and put it on top of your TV or fridge and it will start growing there! In fact, the more you cut it into pieces with the view to kill it, the wider it will spread as almost every piece will start growing again, even if you keep them in your pocket (I exaggerate). My grandma knew NYAME never dies. Naming the herb as such implies she perceived it as indomitable; in fact, antifragile.

Greek mythology 1, my grandma’s wisdom 1.

The herb itself has many medicinal uses, from curing stomachache to treating boils. For sheeps, though, it is poisonous. It can cause foaming at the mouth and death if taken in large quantities. The GAs therefore call it TO LILƐI (Sheep’s tongue). Yes, the herb survives even in Accra! 😉


By: Kwabena Antwi-Boasiako

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