IN THE COMPANY OF HERBALISTS
I have always wanted to sit in company with herbalists, but I never had the motivation or courage to make that move until recently. I got interested in the “High Grade-Weed Smoking-Herbalist” phenomena during the world cup, when I came across a tweet about Jordan Ayew which read, “If Jordan Ayew was a weed smoker, he would have known the importance of passing” on social media. This got me curious and so I decided to find things out for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I live in a Zongo (Ghetto) so of cause I might have come across weed smokers before, but nothing has ever drown my attention to the Art of Weed Smoking like this particular tweet. So with my new found curiosity, I was off to find some answers.
To achieve a reliable research results, any survey must have three (3) elements. 1. It must ask the right questions, 2. It must have a target and 3. It must provide a practical insight and actionable recommendation.
Now for the first element which is about asking the right questions, I wanted find out
- If the statement about weed smokers knowing the importance of “Passing” was true.
- How common weed smoking has become in our societies today.
- How easy it is for people to get access to hard drugs.
- What kind of people are into weed smoking.
- What the motivation for weed smoking is.
- Why people smoke weed.
- If the smokers smoked under any form of duress or they did so willingly.
- Whether they wished they could stop or they never want to come out from it.
- Why they insist on smoking weed even though the society frowns on it.
- If women were much involved in it as their male counterparts.
The second element is obvious and so with my first and second elements identified, I set out to fulfill the third.
Locating weed joints (ghettos) in Bolgatanga is not as easy as locating one in Accra or any of the big cities/towns. Strong religious and moral believes, social and cultural norms, disperse settlement system, inadequate access to weed, unconducive environmental condition for the growth of the “product” etc. are but a few of the reasons why its difficult to locate weed joints in the north. For the few places I went to in Bolgatanga, I couldn’t gather enough data and so I almost gave up until I had to come to Accra for an official assignment.
I was fortunate when I got to Accra, my work became easier because I don’t live is a so called residential area or gated communities. Korley-won Koo is the name of my area, I live in the heart of Accra. Surely you might have heard of Mokola, UTC, Rawlings Park, Princess Marie-Louise Children’s Hospital and of cause the biggest Bend-down-boutique in West Africa Katamanto right? Well, those places are located in Korley-won Koo. Just in case you don’t know, Korley-won Koo is the capital of the Odododiodiodoo Constituency. James town, Usher town, Bukom, Palladium, Adedenkpo are all suburbs that sprung up around Korley-Won Koo.
I used to think Osu-RE was the “happening place” in the capital during festivities till I went there with a couple of friends on Dec, 31st last year… Long story short, Osu-RE is no more the “happening place” in the capital. “Club House” is.., and Club House is located in Korle-Won Koo. Even Viena and Afro on their best day won’t beat Club House on its worse day. Next to Club House is Anyaata Base, formally known as Anyaata Weed Base.
If I am not exaggerating, I will say Anyaata Base though small in size, is the most patronized weed joints in Accra. Don’t be fooled by its size or location, Anyaata on a normal day could host about 300 members according to the manager (Name withheld), and they make an average of Ghc2000 in revenue from the sales of Weed and Alcohol each day. When asked if they sold other forms of hard drugs like cocaine, the manager said eloquently, “Not at Anyaata, but I can direct you to a joint where u can get high grade coke if you so wish”. I was surprised at his ability to speak the English language so fluently and so I probed further to find out if he had been to school before. I was shocked at his responds, “I am a Polytechnic graduate”… “I am into this not because I want to, but man must eat”. I didn’t want to appear too inquisitive lest I give myself away so I held back the personal questions for later.
Looking around, I could see all kinds of people from all walks of life. Men, women, pregnant women, young and old, rich, poor, working class, unemployed, Christians, Moslems, free thinkers, married, single, gays, lesbians, Doctors, Engineers, Security service personnels, the good, the bad and the evil all under one umbrella speaking one language; WEED. What is most exciting about them is the fact that, they know the society shuns them, they know the society looks down upon them and they know that the society to some extent hates them. But instead of transferring that hatred back unto the society, they have found a special way of transforming that anger and hatred into loving themselves and being their brother’s keeper. The mere roll of weed as we (society) might think of it, is not just a mere roll to the weed smoker, but a stick of Peace, Unity and Oneness.
It’s only in the ghetto that the true meaning of “sharing is caring” is revealed. No well-meaning weed smoker will smoke and entire roll all by himself in the ghetto. “It’s a taboo and a sign of selfishness which is considered a crime in the weed smoking community”, was the answer I got when I asked why everyone seemed to be passing around their “joints”. It was then I got a better understanding of the tweet, “If Jordan Ayew was a weed smoker he, would have known the importance of passing”.
The kind of songs played there was not the regular ever day songs you hear on the radio or on the streets, their kind of song is different. Carefully selected conscious music is what I will like to call it. Every track that is dropped contains deep thinking vibes. The least I talk about their women the better, no wonder every reggae/dancehall artiste has one song or the another about ghetto love. No one gives real ghetto love like a real ghetto woman. “If she can puff with you, she can die with you” is their little secret slogan. I want to believe the weed has something to do with it because, everything about them is different. Their beauty and physique is of exceptional quality, their bold and very confident but submissive and courteous at the same time and when they dance, my oh my.., they really know how to put a man in the right mood with their dance moves.
As I sat back enjoying the sights and sounds and obviously the smell of my new found hangout, I noticed the cloud of smoke getting thicker by the minutes and since it was becoming more and more difficult for me to breath, I decided to take my leave. I was almost out of the place when a young man of about 23yrs walked up to men introduced himself as Davis and asked my name. After I had told him my name, he offered to buy me a roll to which I declined with the excuse that I wasn’t in the mood for a roll that night. He then offered to buy me a drink, this time he was very persistent and so I took an energy drink instead. It was almost 1am at that time so we decided to walk home together since we were going towards the same direction. I used that opportunity to ask him some few things;
- How did he get into weed smoking? Ans: Peer pressure
- Does he have any regrets? Ans: No, because he has found for himself a family who loves and do not judge him. And if even he stops smoking, he will never stop coming there.
- Is he having any plans of quitting anytime soon? Ans: (Smiled) “if God want me to stop, he will find a way”.
- What is his motivation for smoking? Ans: It opens his mind and helps him to perform well in everything he does. (Who wouldn’t want that)
- What does he say to people who frown on weed smoking? Ans: I tell them to read to (Genesis 1:29)
I googled (Genesis 1:29) when I got home and this was what it had to say; (Genesis 1:29) And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
At this point I was confused on how to conclude this piece. The few hours I spent with these guys opened my eyes to a lot of things. It gave me a new understanding of their world and it dispersed most of the negative perceptions I personally had about weed smokers. They showed to me what real love was all about and gave me what the society has denied them which is friendship and compassion.
This write-up is not aimed at glorifying or crucifying weed smoking, but to show to the larger society that the so called smokers are still our brothers, sisters, friends, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties etc. They still deserve our love and care, our friendship and compassion, our kind gestures and hand of help. Maybe as we do this, we might be able to get them to change in other to conform to societal norms. After all, an African proverb says that when a child falls in a basin of dirty water, you don’t throw away the child with the dirty water rather, you take the child out and clean him up.
Think about it and lets smoke the peace pipe together