My French teacher, Monsieur Barry, is a short, bespectacled, professorial man, with an impeccably trimmed moustache. He is also a student of various West African folk practices, including traditional medicine, juju, witchcraft, and magic.
Recently, M. Barry introduced me to his friend, Dr. Toure, who practices traditional medicine and claims to have discovered a cure for asthma. (“It doesn’t relieve the symptoms,” M. Barry told me, clapping his hands for emphasis. “It cures it!”) Dr. Toure gave me a sample of his concoction, an orangey powder that resembles Tang and tastes like dog shit. M. Barry and Dr. Toure would like me to forward this medicine to a laboratory in the United States for testing. Eventually they hope to sell the recipe to a drug company (Dr. Toure claims the Malian health department has already offered him $6,000 for the cure, a sum he deemed woefully insufficient).
Dr. Toure says the powder consists of nothing more than dried wild fruits – “100% natural,” he claims – but I am reticent about sending it through the mail. Still, if anyone would like a sample – or, better yet, would like to actually test it – please e-mail me.
M. Barry, meanwhile, has another plan for striking it rich. He claims to have seen a magical helmet that, when worn, makes its wearer (and, presumably, the helmet itself) invisible. (Apparently this is especially useful when hunting in the bush.) M. Barry says “the Arabs” have offered him a lot of money for one, but he'd rather sell it to an American. I'm trying to convince him to find me one.
If he does, I’m gonna put it on eBay.