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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

WADA, wada, wada: My guide to southern Africa’s most popular, erm, herbal remedies

Fifa is worried that soccer players at the World Cup could use stimulants derived from traditional African medicines that aren’t on the list of banned substances.

Fifa medical committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe said he wanted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to analyse African plants that could give athletes an unfair advantage.

“If we don’t have control over these specific traditional medicines, then we can’t say we have control over all the medication in football.”

Well, let me give you a hand, Mr D’Hooghe, if that’s your real name. After all, you can’t be expected to know the names and properties of everything that grows in the country.

  • Dagga: SA’s most popular herbal remedy helps alleviate a number of physical and mental problems such as manual labour, premenstrual wives and Sunday afternoons. Not commonly regarded as a great performance enhancer outside of laughter therapy groups. Heightens perceptions, usually of being arrested.
  • Juliusoria Malemaris: a stubby, resilient vegetable with a thick, fleshy epidermis. Does not do well in poor conditions and must be watered regularly with Mo√ęt & Chandon. More of a depressant than a stimulant. Repeated exposure leads to delusions of grandeur. Vomiting may result if taken in large doses.
  • Jacobulata Zumarensis: has powerful roots but can be easily displaced every five years. Recognisable by its unusual style, swollen stamen and constantly growing stigma. Has a machine-gun instead of a pistil. A fast reproducer, it is part of a broader organic system that contains nuts. Has been known to provide users with an unfair advantage. Side-effects of prolonged use include immense wealth or imprisonment.
  • Helenii Zillespora: a sub-genus of the Venus Fly Trap family, this small but perfectly formed flowering tree is capable of changing its appearance on a weekly basis. It thrives on attention and yet has no visible means of support. Has been known to cause indigestion among its natural enemies. Mildly hallucinatory, its bark is worse than its bite.
  • Pieteranthus Mulderata: a non-indigenous hybrid that thrives on farmland. It leaves a bitter taste in the mouth and needs to be crushed, then diluted with one part tolerance and two parts acceptance. Its powerful properties have all but disappeared over the past 15 years. Moves are under way to permanently eliminate this alien growth. Limited in its performance-enhancing abilities, it is likely to find itself on the list of banned substances by 2020.
  • Dannyosa Jordaanifera: an interesting genetic mix, this rather miserable-looking specimen should not be taken lightly. Eaten raw with a side dish of lightly grilled Bafanaspicata, it has been known to provoke feelings of misplaced patriotism. Approach with cautious optimism.
  • Bennimonium McCarthyllum: a distant relative of Bafanaspicata, it should be taken with a pinch of salt. This rare, indigenous alien needs to be handled gently. Pay it a lot of attention or a lot of money and there is a good chance it will shoot.
  • Mr D’Hooghe, you should also be aware that sangomas are preparing a special batch of muti that will make our national side invisible. After the first round you won’t see them again.


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