“Omotembe”, as it is referred to in my mother tongue, is a deciduous tree species that belongs to the Fabaceae family.
When I was young, (not that am so old now,😜well, much younger than I am now – a lad in the village) “Omotembe” was the first tree species that I knew was more than just a tree. It was important. At least in my village.
You remember those baraza’s where all people in the village gathered upon a signal (it was usually a whistle) from “Omogambi”? -that’s how local administrative chiefs were referred to in my community. Guess where my village gathered to listen to Omogambi’s key note address,..at Omotembe.
You see, Omotembe did not only serve as a landmark in my village because there was only one, (guess my local church’s name? – SDA Church, Omotembe 😄😄) it also had other uses such as medicinal. Traditional. When we were lads and we used to wet our beds🤫🙈, my grandma told my naughty cousins and I to pick a few pieces of firewood, go throw them at Omotembe and run away without looking back🏃🏽♂️. Whether this worked or not, we will revisit another day.
So, Omotembe was phenomenal in our traditional beliefs.
Deeper digging into present day ethnobotany studies reveals omotembe as a traditional medicinal plant, whose almost all parts are useful. However, the root and its bark are the most commonly used
>A crude extract of the root bark has shown antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum
>Stem bark extracts have also shown antiplasmodial activity, including activity against chloroquine-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum, and flavonoids have been isolated as active ingredients
>The bark is used to treat a wide range of conditions including snakebites, malaria, sexually transmittable diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea, amoebiasis, elephantiasis, cough, liver inflammation, stomach-ache, colic and measles
>The bark sap is drunk as an anthelmintic
>Used externally, the roasted and powdered bark is applied to burns, ulcers and swellings[299
>The liquid from the crushed bark of green stems is used to cure conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia trachomatis (trachoma)
>The roots are used to treat peptic ulcers, epilepsy, malaria, blennorrhagia and schistosomiasis
>The pounded flowers are used to treat dysentery
>A maceration of the flower is drunk as an abortifacient, and applied externally to treat earache
Now, after knowing these benefits that accrue from just one tree species, why could someone in their sober mind want to cut down “Omotembe”? Just, why??
If you got a chance to plant one, to avoid a possibility of its extinction, why could you possibly let such a golden opportunity pass by? If my kids wet their beds, I will make sure they do what my grandma told me to do and confirm if it really works😃.
Let’s conserve “Omotembe” for future generations.