For more than 20 years Christopher Voncujovi has been running a shrine in the heart of Accra, where he is committed to preserving the ancient spiritual and herbal practice of voodoo, which originated in West Africa. Voncujovi believes in the power of herbal medicine to boost immunity and prevent COVID-19.
Animals and birds at the "Afrikan Magick Temple" shrine.
In the shrine Christopher has many animals and birds, he believes they bring good fortune to the shrine.
Dzatsi is corn flour mixed with water. It is used as a substitute or complement when pouring libation. In the past, when warriors were on battlefields with no food, dzatsi substituted food. Also, when these warriors returned from battle, they were given dzatsi to drink to "cool" them down as a welcome gesture.
Christopher is using dzatsi as a libation to pray to Afeli – the foundation of the shrine. Before any ritual is done in the shrine, you must first pray to Afeli.
Libation and red palm oil poured on Afeli – the vodu (spirit) that symbolize the foundation of the shrine, to greet and thank Gods.
Photographs and certificates on the walls of Christopher’s office where he invites people to do the consultations.
Christopher is showing the entrance inside the shrine where he performs his rituals under the closed doors.
There are more than hundreds of vodus (spirits) in the shrine, sometimes they live inside the pots and Christopher attends to every one of them to pour the libations.
Animal sacrifices are very common in Voodoo practice, they serve as offerings to the vodus (spirits).
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Ghanaians have been heading to a Plant Research Center just outside the capital Accra to hand scientists and researchers herbal products and plants they think will help cure the world of the virus, or at least alleviate symptoms.
Scientists and researchers at the Center for Plant Medicine Research are confident they will find an effective herbal medication, made from plants native to Ghana, which they say will be a major coup for the nation - and offer sound evidence to these widespread beliefs in herbal medicines.
Scientist at the Center for Plant Medicine Research is displaying samples containing various herbs that are yet to be tested for its effectiveness to treat Covid-19.
Various herbal products on sale in the shop at the Center for Plant Medicine Research.
At the Center for Plant Medicine Research there are more than fifty different species of medicinal plants seedlings raised and maintained in the nursery for research and cultivation/conservation purposes.
The nursery also generates income for the Centre through sales of medicinal plants seedlings to farmers, herbalists and others who are interested parties engaged in medicinal plants farming.
Solar thermal system facility for drying herbs at the Center for Plant Medicine Research.
Herbarium is a place where dried plant materials are stored as voucher specimens. These plant samples serve as a confirmatory guide for identification and other taxonomic studies.
The herbarium holds about 562 voucher specimens of medicinal plants commonly used in Ghana.
Traditional medicines play a vital health care role in many African communities. Accessibility, availability, affordability, cultural acceptance as well as spiritual, religious and sociological values make them a preferred option for many people over conventional therapy. According to WHO about 80% of developing countries depend on traditional medicines for their primary health care needs. In Ghana, traditional medicine, particularly herbal medicines, is an important component of the health care system of the people. In 2019, Ghana launched a pilot program in government hospitals where medical herbalists where made available to supplement and improve healthcare delivery, trained to incorporate scientific methods into their work. The aim is to develop traditional medicines to the levels of countries like China. There are many indigenous cultures and communities in Ghana that possess a great store of traditional knowledge about herbal medicines for treatment of various human ailments. Ghana’s Centre for Plant Medicine Research researches and develops traditional medicines and has collaborated with traditional health practitioners since 1975. The center is in the process of evaluating herbal products and medicines which have antiviral properties, it is especially concerned with products already in use that can be repurposed for this pandemic. Traditional medicine is holistic in nature and involves both physical and spiritual dimensions of healing. These means may be by divinations, rituals, incantations, visions trances, dream, and the intervention of ancestral spirits. Accra’s voodoo priest Christopher Voncujovi – who is committed to preserving the ancient spiritual and herbal practice of voodoo, which originated in West Africa. Voncujovi believes in the power of herbal medicine to boost immunity and prevent COVID-19. Although large gatherings are customary in voodoo practices to conduct a ritual, Voncujovi has been encouraging African traditional practitioners to stop hosting large gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19. When the first cases of Covid-19 were found in Ghana in March, Voncujovi asked his voodoo spirits what he should do for protection. He says much like voodoo believes the world is made up of visible and invisible entities, the coronavirus is an invisible force, but interacting with the human world. Because of the Coronavirus Voncujovi is not able to host a ritual of have a healing session with his patients this very moment. He has been hosting Facebook Live sessions from his shrine to talk about voodoo practices and the ways to prevent COVID-19 by boosting the immunity with local herbs.