Monkey tail, a local herbal concoction is very popular in various parts of Lagos. Its popularity may also be extended to other states across the federation and Abuja.
The drink is made from soaking grinded leaves or seeds of Marijuana popularly known in local parlance as Indian hemp with local gin. The mixture is then left for some days to ferment, before it is filtered and sold to people.
People, who take the local concoction, have a thousand and one reasons why they cannot do without the stuff, even for a day.
For instance, Edet Akpan, a well known Keke Marwa operator, plying the PWD-Ikeja route in Lagos, says, “In this rainy season, a shot or two of monkey tail, keep cold, malaria and typhoid at bay”
But, to Samson Elechi, a motor mechanic, whose workshop is located at Pipeline junction in Abule- Egba, Lagos, “the local brew makes me high, reduces the stress in my system and induces sleep, especially at night”.
While Elechi is preaching the gospel of highness, stress reduction and sleep inducement as the reasons to almost becoming an addict of monkey tail, Mama Segun boasted that ”it was monkey tail that cured her chronic typhoid, when orthodox medications failed” .
Babatunde Alonge, a Lagos-based banker confessed that the drink is medicinal as it “flushes out typhoid, malaria; backache and stomach ache from my system”.
According to Alonge, monkey tail also detoxifies and acts as aphrodisiac, as it clears the sugar in our “system and ensures that our sexual lives are improved”, he added.
However, Dr Emmanuel Nwachukwu, a Lagos-based medical practitioner punctured the health benefit being played up by Akpan, Elechi, Alonge and Mama Segun, as reasons for drinking the illicit gin.
His words: Yes, medically speaking, bitters cleanse our body system and greatly improve our immune system, thereby helping our body to fight diseases and infections.But, the alcoholic or ogogoro contents in these local herbal products as well as the methods of preparing the concoctions make it dangerous and unhygienic for the body, he further explained.
According to him, “though bitters cleanse the body naturally, but the alcoholic or ogogoro content in some of the herbal products could damage the kidney or liver, if moderation is not applied in their usages”.
A recent visit to Mama Edo paraga joint, located close to the Lagos state command of the Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) at Ikeja, showed that the drink is indeed popular, not only among youths, but also among security agents, elderly persons and others.
“For as low as N50 per shot, one could get to drink a cup of monkey tail and with N700 for a bottle of the ragolis bottle, it is enjoyment all the way”, Mama Edo boasted.
Further invstigation revealed that some of the popular paraga joints around Ikeja in Lagos, where monkey tail and other local herbal concoctions are sold are located around Ipodo market at Olowu Street, Anifowoshe Street, PWD bus-stop area, Adeniji Jones areas, the railway lines from Oshodi to Ladipo, Shogunle, etc.
From Ojuelegba, through to Alakara area, near the former African Shrine, where the late Afro music maestro, Fela Anikulapo – Kuti used to entertain his fans with his radical and anti- government brand of music, most joints in the area sell monkey tail, indian hemp, spirits and other local herbal products. For as low as N30, one could get a shot of the drink.
The Ijora under-bridge around Orile Iganmu, Ajegunle, Obalende, Makoko, Maroko, Oworonshoki and parts of high brow areas like: Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki are also booming with the business.
Mama Kunle, a local herbal trader, whose joint is located at Ekoro junction in Abule Egba, Lagos told our correspondent that she opened shop of local herbal products with as little as N3, 000 in 2000.
“Today, I have been able to assists my husband in running our home and training our three children, who are now in secondary schools”, she said.
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), who in the past were beaming their searchlights around airports, seaports and border towns, like Seme Border in search of big time illicit drug dealers and traffickers, may have changed their minds.
Our correspondent gathered that last week Thursday, operatives of the anti-narcotic agency stormed the Gatankowa market, Abule Egba in the dead of the night and arrested no fewer than 100 persons smoking Indian hemp and drinking monkey tail, ogogoro and other spirits.
Mitchel Ofoyetun, media director for NDLEA could not be reached for official comment on the raid. But, a source at the Shaw road office of the agency in Ikoyi, Lagos said its operatives have been raiding markets, paraga joints, criminal hideouts all over the country in search drug addicts and traffickers.
Kenneth Nwosu, Lagos police image maker, speaking on the link between illicit drug usage and criminalities said that records show that some people who abuse substances like alcohol, Indian hemp, local herbal products mixed with ogogoro are pre-disposed to committing all sorts of criminal acts.