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Des sources du savoir aux médicaments du futur

Jacques Fleurentin
Jean-Marie Pelt
Guy Mazars

2. Élaboration des pharmacopées

The use of plants in traditional veterinarian medicine in sub-saharan Africa. Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Martine Baerts, Jean Lehmann et Michel Ansay


In literature concerning Africa there are few indications concerning veterinarian traditional medicine and they often report only local inquiries of short duration and imply a small number of advisers. Therefore it is difficult to distinguish the medicine issued from a tradition lived by a whole people from the medicine practised by only some individuals.
We shall try to summarize the knowledge we have of the traditional veterinarian medicine used in the past in some zones of sub-saharan Africa and to indicate some tendencies which are outlined nowadays.
The african breeder uses plants and, or animal substances as pragmatic remedies and magic ingredients. The same substance can indifferently be used for those two purposes. One discovers some indications concerning the use of these substances in scattered publications. All this information is synthetized and published under the shape of a data bank. In some cases analytical statistical methods allow to distinguish plants used in traditional medicine from substances used for ritual or magic purposes.
Traditional veterinarian medicine of the past centred as well on rites, magic as on a certain therapeutic efficiency should have disappeared with the progress of modern techniques. However the still accessible plants can help as far a serious selection and as far well tested operating modes are given to the breeders. On this condition the study of the past will not have been useless.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Université Catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale et Pharmaceutique, Institut Ca (...)

1Note portant sur l'auteur1

  • 2 Université Catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale et Pharmaceutique, Institut Ca (...)

2Note portant sur l'auteur2

  • 3 PRELUDE sub-network "health, animal productions and environment"

3Note portant sur l'auteur3

The past

About history

4Literature concerning Africa is mostly dedicated to customs, to different political organisations, to ways of thinking. In this mass of informations the place reserved for breeding is remarkable, but only few indications are supplied concerning the art of traditional veterinarian medicine. We do not claim here to make a general survey of this subject.

5We only try here to place in history the importance of livestock for the populations living in the low and high lands of Africa. This analysis is presented here only under the shape of sketches and hypotheses which are to be refined.

  • 1 Certes il existe des documents plus anciens, mais l'étude exhaustive de ce continent démarre en fo (...)

6The prehistory of sub-saharan Africa which ends in the last century left only few documents1. The specialists are thus obliged to assemble carefully the details of a puzzle made from hypotheses, analogies and interpretations often influenced by the ideas of the present time. The value of the inquiries led for more than a century in these regions is often conditioned by the personality, the fears and the beliefs of the investigator. Moreover this observer (generally a foreigner) is always a troublemaker by reason of his presence and his questioning. Too many studies concern local inquiries of short duration and imply a too small number of advisers.

7It is then difficult to distinguish the answers resulting from a tradition lived by a whole people, from those which are probably fanciful because the interlocutor wants to preserve his secret or simply because he has no answer. In these circumstances the supplied answers will be often falsified. We wish to place briefly the subject in its historical context and as traditional veterinary medicine in Africa is essentially dedicated to cattle, we shall indicate that these animals played a spectacular role in the societies of the east regions and of the centre of sub-saharan Africa. People and animals lived and sometimes still live in symbiosis. Often these peaceful ruminants are the purpose for a successful and accomplished social life.

  • 2 Le terme migration doit être compris ici non pas comme l'intrusion en masse de troupeaux et de peu (...)

8Rather than describe the history of the migrations of the droves of cattle2, such as it is more or less admitted at present, we synthesize it by a series of figures (Fig. 1 a, b, c and d):

9(Fig. 1 a) From - 1000 before J.C. till - 100, populations migrated from the west, from the present south-Cameroon occupied gradually the centre of east Africa where Burundi is situated. It seems that those peoples were no longer breeders, their primitive herds having been decimated by tse-tse. They knew however to work with iron.

10(Fig. lb) From - 700 to - 100, appeared in the region of the lakes a culture connected to the beginning of the iron age. From there groups scattered through the country and joined their cousins, who had migrated into the north of current Angola and who had preserved the practice of pastoral techniques.

11(Fig. lc) From +100 to +500, these groups scattered towards current Namibia and Shaba.

12(Fig. 1d) From + 900, expansion started again in several directions and the introduction of the cow in the high lands of central Africa began probably at the same time.

13From the 18-th century to the beginning of the 20-th century, peoples in the north and in the south at the borders of the immense forested Congo practised breeding. It is necessary however to distinguish those of the north, migrant pastoralists from those of the south, farmers of the ancient kingdoms of the savanna (Fig. 2).

14The material civilization and the economical life of the peoples of the savanna were very similar. With the exception of the Lozi who practised a long-lasting agriculture in the valley of Zambeze, all the other peoples practised agriculture on burnt parts of forests. They rotated various harvests on the same field until this one was worked-out. That field then lay fallow during several years, sometimes for twenty years. Two important consequences of this method of agriculture were the preservation of a weak density of population and its periodic migration to find new fields.

15In all those regions domestic animals were goats, sheep, dogs and poultry. Pigs and ducks seemed to have been introduced only during the 18-th century.

16Horned animals were milked only by the Lozi and in the south of the region Ovimbundu. Milking did not exist in any other part of the savanna. The leaders and the kings of the Loango region in the north, as well as the leaders and the kings Lunda were owners of small herds of cattle.

17For this part of Africa we collected in literature only a little information concerning traditional veterinarian medicine.

  • 3 Voir pour cette question les ouvrages de base tels que:
    - EVANS-PRITCHARD E.E., Les Nuer. Descripti (...)

18For numerous peoples of the low lands of the guineo-congolese country and of east Africa, the poorness of the soil induced them to practise breeding rather than farming. If animals became suppliers of food, they represented also a real social base often connected to rites. For example, in the daily social life the prosperity of the herds and human fertility seemed inextricably mixed and bound to parallel rites. Besides with his cattle a man established contact with the ancestors and the spirits and he situated himself in his own society3.

19By the rite of gifts and contra-gifts under multiple forms the cow gave a concrete expression to the different alliances between the families, the allied clans. It remained the guarantee of a social peace so precious for the african people confronted with the difficulties of daily existence.

20For the pastoralists the milk was the vital source of food. This meant living from the daily production which depended strictly on water supply and on enough vegetation. Otherwise those peoples were obliged to a continuous wandering. This kind of life developed the qualities of the herdsman: courage, combativeness, contempt of famine and suffering. These characteristics differentiated fundamentally the pastoralist from the farmer whose field was productive only by tenacious and painful work. If unfavourable natural conditions arose such as aridity, hail and locusts, the result of his work was lost and the farmer fixed to his field could only hope for the return of better conditions. For the herdsman on the other hand, livestock could be moved without loss of value, but had to be constantly defended because cows represented a capital much more attractive than the contents of a basket of beans. In the grassy savannas of the area of the great african lakes, seasonal irregularities affected the abundance of meadows, and it was sometimes necessary to migrate far away to assure the subsistence of the livestock. The herdsman had to be mobile, well armed; he had to accept an austere way of life and also develop a solidarity with his companions, guarantee of survival for the social group.

  • 4 KENYATTA J. (1960) Au pied du mont Kenya, traduit de l'anglais par G. Marcu et P. Balta, préface d (...)

21The health of the livestock was and is in spite of the social evolution a constant preoccupation of the breeder who uses pragmatic remedies and magic ingredients to take care of his cattle4.

  • 5 Généralement l'enquêteur étranger n'a pas une formation de linguiste et il omet de marquer par une (...)

22The investigators did not pay enough attention to the techniques of the healers, the medical practices and the role of the medicinal plants in different rites. These practices were often judged as not scientific and therefore the investigators often collected the plants without caring about the importance of those "magic" practices which turned out to be sometimes effective. Nevertheless in specialists' statements some therapeutic practices were remarkable5:

  • 6 Adamantidis D. (1956) Monographie pastorale du Ruanda - Urundi, BACB, 3, p. 632.

23"Le Rwandais connaît depuis longtemps le rôle des glossines dans la transmission des trypanosomiases, celui des pâturages à charbon dans l'apparition de cette maladie, et celui des pâturages marécageux dans l'infestation vermineuse. Il sait souvent reconnaître quelques maladies telles que le charbon bactérien (ubutaka), la trypanosomiase (amashuya), la theilériose (igikira), la peste bovine (muryamo), la verminose (inzoka), le furoncle interdigité (icyashi), la catarrhe auriculaire (gasate), l'hygroma (amakore)..., ils utilisaient à bon escient des extraits végétaux et des plantes aromatiques"6.

  • 7 LESTRADE A. (1955) La médecine indigène au Ruanda et lexique des termes médicaux français-urunyarw (...)

24"Il existe un vaccin anti-charbonneux préparé à partir de l'arbuste igikwarara, de l'arbuste igitovu (Acanthus montanus), de l'arbuste umukeri (Rubus inedulis), etc.., en y ajoutant de la suie et du beurre frais. Pour administrer son vaccin, l'umuvuzi du charbon pratiquait des incisions sur l'épaule droite de chaque animal du kraal en commençant par les plus âgés et en utilisant le couteau du propriétaire du bétail concerné. L'umuvuzi ajoutait des formules et distribuait un breuvage aux personnes placées en contact avec le bétail"7.

25"L'existence de nombreuses plantes médicinales prouve que la science vétérinaire traditionnelle pouvait être efficace dans plusieurs cas, mais s'était montrée impuissante face à quelques maladies du bétail qui se trouvaient être des plus redoutables (pestes bovines etc.)

26En 1934 au Rwanda que fut gagnée la bataille décisive contre la peste bovine (muryamo); cette victoire allait asseoir définitivement le prestige du service vétérinaire.. Cette pandémie avait ravagé le pays en 1891-92 et 1933-34.

  • 8 Voir note n° 3 DUPIRE Marguerite, Peuls nomades

27Cependant la science vétérinaire moderne, aussi longtemps qu'elle ne pouvait pas encore mettre toutes ses recettes à la disposition des Rwandais, ne chercha pas à saborder la pharmacopée traditionnelle. Même les Rwandais qui avaient vite cru en l'efficacité du vaccin et du sérum pouvaient encore administrer à leurs bêtes des remèdes séculaires"8.

28"(...) on peut constater que le bétail est victime de bien des maladies et que les Nuer se sont avisés de les traiter; mais on peut douter si leurs pratiques ont un véritable effet thérapeutique. Deux maladies contagieuses sont particulièrement graves: la pleuro-pneumonie bovine, capable de frapper durement les troupeaux en quelques années; et la peste bovine (rinderpest), qui pénétra au Soudan il y a plus d'un demi-siècle: les Nuer évoquent cette invasion qui accompagna celle des Arabes...

  • 9 Voir note n° 3 DUPIRE Marguerite, Peuls nomades

29Ils n'ont aucun moyen de combattre le fléau une fois qu'il s'est abattu sur un troupeau, mais ils ont conscience de la nécessité de l'isoler. Ils y sont assez habitués pour séparer leurs bêtes à la saison sèche, quand il y a menace, et pour placer chaque troupeau dans un camp assez éloigné des autres: ainsi, pour un troupeau infecté, il peut y en avoir beaucoup d'autres de sauvés. Ils savent qu'une vache guérie est immunisée, ce qui augmente sa valeur; ils savent aussi que son veau ne l'est pas"9.

30"Lorsque la vache tousse, maigrit et qu'à l'examen externe des poumons en frappant sur les côtes, celles-ci rendent un son particulier, le berger diagnostique une pleuro-pneumonie qu'il traite par des saignées sur le nez. Cependant F. W. de Saint-Croix, vétérinaire au Nigeria, a observé chez les Peuls de cette région une pratique de vaccination qui serait efficace quand elle est effectuée à temps. Un morceau de poumon appartenant à une vache morte de cette maladie est déposé dans du lait où on le laisse mûrir dans un endroit frais. Ce vaccin est ensuite appliqué aux animaux qui n'ont pas encore été touchés par la maladie, en l'introduisant dans une entaille légère pratiquée sur le naseau.

  • 10 Voir note n° 3 EVANS-PRITCHARD E.E., Les Nuer

31"La technique de la vaccination s'est perdue chez les Wodaabe du Niger, mais on la rencontre encore sous sa double forme anti- pieuro-pneumonique et anti-variolique dans certaines sociétés peules. F. W. de Saint-Croix la signale sous ces deux formes au Nigeria et nous avons pu relever la seconde chez les Fulhe de l'Adamawa. L'arrivée des Européens a presque partout supprimé l'usage de cette vaccination qui réapparaît cependant quand une épidémie se déclare, comme cela s'est produit au Fouta-Djallon"10.

32From +1500 to +1600 in the area of the high lands of the great lakes several movements of populations took place. Principally a pastoral migration which upset the life of peoples so different in culture as pastoralists and farmers. The very progressive arrival of certain groups in these high lands is sometimes explained as a consequence of their flight in front of the epizooties which decimated their cattle in the low lands.

33Originally however the populations that arrived in this zone from + 900 knew about livestock, but they never succeeded in mastering breeding to obtain this effect of mass which only is sustainable, by means of manure, to enrich durably the soil. These farmers were conscious of the beneficial effect of this natural fertilizer. This fertilizer will be supplied in abundance six centuries later by the arrival of big droves of cattle. It explains, partially, the relatively peaceful reception of those nomads in the high lands. Water and meadows were there in abundance and animals became more resistant. In those countries, the epizooties which decimated the livestock and the diseases which touched the people were less frequent. The long wanderings of those nomads in the plains of east Africa stopped. Those high countries allowed them to restore their forces and to put their cattle under cover.

34The history of their implantation in the high lands of central Africa consisted probably in successive transhumances during particularly dry seasons in the plains of east Africa. The out and in migrations between the high and low lands were doubtless frequent and the progressive establishment of those nomads on unoccupied lands induced contracts and marital alliances with the local populations. This process seems to have been preferred to that of a conquest by force which would have put the cattle in continual danger.

  • 11 BAERTS M. et LEHMANN J. (1991 ) Plantes médicinales vétérinaires de la région des crêtes Zaïre-Nil (...)
  • 12 Notons au passage que pour tous ces peuples, l'alliance entre familles par un mariage était d'auta (...)

35One of the causes11 which facilitated the exceptional density of population in the high lands and the reasons which incited different ethnic groups to live gradually on the same territory by imbricating their living zones were bound to the shared profits which these populations benefited from the exploitation of the cow. Therefore farmers accepted, in exchange for some cows, a social organization advantageous for the pastoralists. The detention of some animals allowed the farmer to double, or even triple his agricultural production12.

36Nowadays the cow remains a value of sure saving and, as such, is better appreciated by the farmer than the savings banks. It becomes in a sense an alive "moneybox": one buys it in periods of prosperity, one resells it in case of distress.

Ethnobotanical veterinarian inquiries

37The use of medicinal plants is at the same moment ritual, magic and therapeutic. To discern these motives in the results of inquiries, considering the supplied elements, is a wager. Sometimes the investigators took care of individualizing the answers. Too often however we have only an information such as: this plant is used more or less frequently for a given practice by one healer only. These kinds of answers do not allow to affirm that a recipe is applied by a whole people for the same disease.

38In the 80s, we carried out an ethnobotanical inquiry in Burundi (note n° 9). Afterwards we widened the field of our investigations to the whole sub-saharan Africa by consulting literature. This work is published and regularly updated on the WWW site of the data bank PRELUDE13.

39The data processing reveals the big variety of the proposed recipes and it is rare to find cases where the same plant is used by numerous healers for a given symptom, even in a restricted geographic area where botanical biovariety is the same.

40Simple statistical techniques allow to distinguish plants used traditionally by numerous breeders from those used by some isolated healers. In the latter, we shall say that the use of these plants belong to the particular history of a family, of a healer.

41Within the framework of this kind of analysis, what has to draw our attention are the cases where the same botanical species is quoted by several healers to cure the same symptom. As far as this situation repeats frequently with other plants and other diseases, we may presuppose the scattering of therapeutic informations and a consensus in the use of certain medicinal plants.

42The most numerous cases however are those where the frequency of using one species for one particular disease is small. The following question arises: from which value of the frequency of use can we presume the existence of a therapeutic tradition? To establish this threshold is a problem recovering from statistical techniques. It is necessary to admit however that there are maybe effective plants known by some rare healers. We can not discover them by the method which we expose here.

43Let us admit in a first hypothesis that there is no correlation. Then it is necessary to admit that among the quoted plants, correlations due to only random laws, are not very probable. We understand by correlation the fact that the same plant was given to us a number of times by different healers to cure the same illness. We note this number by the numeric indication X. Within the framework of this hypothesis, common sense indicates us that the probability to find X of high values decreases with the value of X. If Y is the number of times when appears one X of a definite value, then the value of log Y decreases according to a logarithmic decreasing law with the linear increase of X.

44If the results are represented in a semi-logarithmic diagram (log Y on the vertical axis and X on the horizontal axis), they will align according to a straight line of negative slope.

45In the other hypothesis: let us suppose that all the healers apply the same treatment for a given illness. All would have received for example the same instruction and would then apply the same treatment for the same symptom.

46Then, correlations will be numerous and our diagram will present peaks particularly for high values of X.

47Let us apply this analysis to various zones of sub-saharan Africa. In summary follow the collected data:

48For Burundi

49Human traditional medicine

50104 healers

51261 botanical species

52106 families

5396 symptoms

54Veterinary traditional medicine

5527 healers

56158 botanical species

5755 families

5840 symptoms

59For sub-saharan Africa

60Human traditional medicine

61165 authors

621238 botanical species

63154 families

64156 symptoms

65Veterinary traditional medicine

66167 authors

671238 botanical species

68154 families

69125 symptoms

70Concerning Burundi, we treated in a similar way results issued from our inquiries concerning plants used for humans and for livestock. Before comparing the results of these two inquiries, we have to normalize them, because the numbers of plants obtained in the two cases are different.

71The semi-logarithmic diagrams of figures n° 3a to 3f which represent results obtained for different symptoms in human traditional medicine can be approximately adjusted by a straight line of negative slope and sometimes by a gaussian curve situated in the region of high values of X.

72Those results demonstrate that in this country, there are no generalized therapeutic traditions. In other words, correlations between the recipes of a healer and those of an other one are rare, in the case of traditional medicine in Burundi less than 10% of the total. The examination of figure n° 4 reserved to the traditional veterinarian medicine reveals a different situation. Indeed, the diagram of this figure does not fit a simple straight line, but a combination of a straight line and a curve of Gauss centred on the value X = 28%. So, for values of X close to 28%, we can suppose that there are remedies which are used by more than 28% of the consulted healers. So we can believe in the existence of a therapeutic veterinarian tradition in Burundi.

73In human medicine, less than 10% of the used plants reveal possible correlations, while this rate reaches about 25% in veterinary medicine. Some plants are used for the same purposes by 50% of veterinarians, while this proportion does not exceed 25% in human medicine.

74Nevertheless an important part of this veterinary medicine contains only few correlations from one healer to an other one, even in a region of limited extension. This feature illustrates this local mentality which limits the exchange of therapeutic, magic and ritual informations to the family circle.

75How to apply this type of analysis to all the inquiries realized in sub-saharan Africa? If the investigators had registered carefully the frequency of use of the same botanical species to cure the same symptom, then the technique became evident. This information is generally absent in the various published inquiries. However we have for the moment by consulting the PRELUDE data bank a synthesis concerning 165 publications for human traditional medicine and 167 publications for traditional veterinary medicine. We made a similar analysis as that applied to the case of Burundi and present it for some symptoms (Fig. 5a to Fig. 5f).

76One discovers that if there are only few correlations in human traditional medicine, they are practically non-existent in traditional veterinarian medicine. Why such a dispersal in the recipes?

77Because the life of these peoples is essentially centred on the widened family and remedies belong to some individuals of the clan. Their magic character in almost all cases prevents their divulgation outside this restricted circle.

78It is also necessary to take into account the fact the regions concerned with these inquiries cover various phytogeographic districts. Therefore one cannot expect high percentages of use of the same plant for a given symptom. Nevertheless difference between veterinarian and human medicine is obvious as revealed in the diagrams.

79It remains to explain why the situation in Africa on the north and the east of the guineo-congolese region is different from that of the high lands in the region of the great lakes. In this last area, originally different ethnic groups lived gradually on the same territory by imbricating in a sometimes narrow way their living zones. Some centuries later they formed small nations homogeneous by language, customs and government. During this long period (3 centuries) the ruling classes had the time to understand that true richness was that of a productive soil and that cattle were only a prestigious element allowing at the most someone to improve substantially his social position. In Burundi, this fact was annually confirmed during a magico-religious ceremony "umuganuro": the king authorized the farmers to beat the ground, to open it and to spread the seeds of the future prosperity of the kingdom. In 1925 in Ruanda-Urundi in order to prevent food scarcities, big areas normally reserved for meadows were put at the disposal of farmers franchised of any land tax "ingorore". Although this decision was a major derogation of the common law, the pastoralists accepted it, at least in their large majority.

80The attitude of the pastoralists demonstrated the evolution of their mentality which henceforth admitted the central role of agriculture. Pastoralists and farmers understood, at least intuitively, that the harmonious union of their two cultures would change radically the fertility of the soil in this area of Africa. In fact, this union was going to engender one of the densest African populations.

81This particular mentality probably incited the veterinarian healers to more pragmatism and to exchange recipes in order to protect the livestock, assurance of the country's prosperity. This probably explains the results obtained in our inquiries which are represented in Fig. 4.

The present, the future and conclusions

82Wars, scarcities and aridity which decimate populations and livestock, the pandemics which touch the regions concerned with the inquiries are the causes of important social turnovers.

83Practices such as divination, exorcism, use of plants in magic and the phytotherapeutic practices by which the soothsayers-healers play a dominating role in the society are mostly elements intended to shape the society in a homogeneous entity where in prevail peace and tranquillity of the individuals subjected to the customs of the clan. In many cases traditional medicine is only a component of this complex alchemy which operates only in a period of relative peace. Now the current situation in these regions is confused from this point of view. Many customs and beneficial practices disappear because the know-how has no time to be transmitted and because the biotopes modifies with aridities, anarchic deforestations, and the inevitable social evolution.

84We can only try to indicate some tendencies which appeared in a recent past.

85For the nomadic peoples the political and administrative authorities forced them in a settlement for security reasons and administrative control. This imposed a rather radical change of mentality and the organization of new ways of life because if the cows could not migrate in the search of meadows, it became necessary for the breeder to cultivate or buy fodder which supposes new sufficient incomes.

86In the high lands, the farmers have more and more tendency to keep their animals in the stable or in an enclosure. The rarefaction of the available lands explains partially this situation. Such an evolution can be beneficial for the animals which will be better attended and better fed.

    Association des groupements d'éleveurs pour les échanges entre paysans du Bu (...)

87The place of the healers in this new environment evolves. The cow no longer plays an original role in different rites. Moreover communication with the world of spirits becomes today more established by the sacrifice of a hen or a small animal rather than that of an ox. Cattle has now essentially an economic importance. In all these regions many ethnoveterinarian practices are bound to a specific situation and they have only a limited potential for further developments. Doubtless many treatments are ineffective and even dangerous, some however are beneficial. The local knowledge of the rural populations (including the ethnoveterinarian one) is an important resource for development and should be the starting point to various interventions, including those using modern methods. Therefore small associations are being created14 to allow the farmers to exchange different information concerning farming and uses of local remedies. News bulletins are published and locally distributed.

  • 15 Participatory workshops to produce information materials on ethnove- terinary medicine, Paul Mundy (...)

88Another tendency is the appearance of local NGO's which if they try to promote an adapted modern veterinary medicine, still remain attentive to local practices. Some organize working sessions grouping together several healers. The results of these sessions are the object of small textbooks of good ethnoveterinarian15 practices.

  • 16 First INFPD/FAO Electronic conference on family poultry: 7 december 1998 - 5 march 1999
    Theme: "The (...)
  • 17
    Investigation and Validation of Ethnoveterinary M (...)
  • 18 The Ethnoveterinary Mailing List is open to anyone interested in the study and application of EVM. (...)

89Moreover electronic conferences for precise16 subjects are organized, as well as the publication of doctoral17 theses. A network of communication using the e mail or Web was created recently. It is a rather free forum of discussions under the shape of a "mailing list" which is automatically distributed to all the members of the network. In this way many veterinarians are in permanent contact and they can exchange opinions and advice18.

90Finally we indicate in the appendix n° 1 several WWW sites dealing with veterinary medicine.

91All these modern channels of informations are not accessible to all. For the moment it is perhaps paradoxically better because a part of the informations so diffused is often based on local knowledge or on former publications. We indicated also that in the recent past veterinarians were more concerned by rite, magic and divination than by phytotherapy.

92Inquiries demonstrate that many recipes change from one healer to an other one and are probably not reliable. The advisers often are sincere by confiding their know-how to the investigator, but this does not mean that their recipes are efficacious from the point of view of the Occidental investigator. To day, one must be careful before applying traditional recipes. The systematic use in the field of more scientific rules of experimentation is necessary. In this domain a lot remains to be realized.

Figure 3. Our inquiry in Burundi for some cases in human traditional medicine

Figure 4. Our feldwork on traditional veterinarian medicine in Burundi

Figure 5. Semi-logarithmic diagral'ms represent the results obtained for different symptoms human tand veterinarian medicine in Sub-saharian Africa


1 Certes il existe des documents plus anciens, mais l'étude exhaustive de ce continent démarre en force au xixe siècle. Voir: VANSINA J. (1965) Les anciens royaumes de la savane, Institut de recherches économiques et sociales, Université Lovanium Léopoldville - République du Congo (Collection Etudes sociologiques, n° l).

2 Le terme migration doit être compris ici non pas comme l'intrusion en masse de troupeaux et de peuples dans de nouveaux territoires, mais comme une lente diffusion le plus souvent pacifique.

3 Voir pour cette question les ouvrages de base tels que:
- EVANS-PRITCHARD E.E., Les Nuer. Description des modes de vie et des institutions politiques d'un peuple nilote, traduit de l'anglais par Lois Evrard, préface de Louis Dumont, Paris, Editions Gallimard, NRF.
Edition originale: EVANS-PRITCHARD E.E. (1937) The Nuer, Oxford, Clarendon Press.
- DUPIRE M. (1962) Peuls nomades. Étude descriptive des Wodaabe du Sahel Nigérien, Paris, Institut d'Ethnologie, Musée de l'Homme.

4 KENYATTA J. (1960) Au pied du mont Kenya, traduit de l'anglais par G. Marcu et P. Balta, préface de Georges Balantier, Paris, François Maspero.

5 Généralement l'enquêteur étranger n'a pas une formation de linguiste et il omet de marquer par une accentuation appropriée l'indication de la tonalité et la quantité vocalique des mots. De ce fait, il est parfois impossible de différencier certains termes. En outre, certaines circonlocutions suggestives d'une pensée symbolique sont souvent intraduisibles.

6 Adamantidis D. (1956) Monographie pastorale du Ruanda - Urundi, BACB, 3, p. 632.

7 LESTRADE A. (1955) La médecine indigène au Ruanda et lexique des termes médicaux français-urunyarwanda, Acad. Roy. Sc. Colon., Cl. Sc. Mor. Polit., N. S. VIII-l, 277p.

8 Voir note n° 3 DUPIRE Marguerite, Peuls nomades

9 Voir note n° 3 DUPIRE Marguerite, Peuls nomades

10 Voir note n° 3 EVANS-PRITCHARD E.E., Les Nuer

11 BAERTS M. et LEHMANN J. (1991 ) Plantes médicinales vétérinaires de la région des crêtes Zaïre-Nil au Burundi, Annales des Sciences Économiques, Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Vol. 21, Tervuren, Belgique, 134 p.

12 Notons au passage que pour tous ces peuples, l'alliance entre familles par un mariage était d'autant plus forte et profitable que le nombre de bêtes échangées était important. De nos jours encore, dans les milieux ruraux, la remise d'une ou plusieurs vaches au titre de dot est souvent préférée à celle de l'argent.

13 Banque de données PRELUDE:

Association des groupements d'éleveurs pour les échanges entre paysans du Bushi.

15 Participatory workshops to produce information materials on ethnove- terinary medicine, Paul Mundy and Evelyn Mathias
Respectively development communication specialist and independent consultant, Weizenfeld 4, 51467 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
Fax +49-2202-932 922, email:

16 First INFPD/FAO Electronic conference on family poultry: 7 december 1998 - 5 march 1999
Theme: "The scope and effect of familt poultry research and development"

Investigation and Validation of Ethnoveterinary Medicine in the Context of the Community Animal Health Programme in Somaliland

18 The Ethnoveterinary Mailing List is open to anyone interested in the study and application of EVM. Hosted by the Netherlands' Centre on International Research and Advisory Networks (CIRAN) of Nuffic (Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education), the list is supervised by an international team of moderators from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin and North America. Only in its second year of existence, the list has already brought together some 200 scientists, developers and policy analysts interested in EVM. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail message to the following address:

Notes de fin

1 Université Catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale et Pharmaceutique, Institut Carno 4 place Croix du Sud 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve - Belgique

2 Université Catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale et Pharmaceutique, Institut Carno 4 place Croix du Sud 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve - Belgique

3 PRELUDE sub-network "health, animal productions and environment"

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1
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Légende Figure 2
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Légende Figure 3. Our inquiry in Burundi for some cases in human traditional medicine
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Légende Figure 4. Our feldwork on traditional veterinarian medicine in Burundi
Fichier image/jpeg, 92k
Légende Figure 5. Semi-logarithmic diagral'ms represent the results obtained for different symptoms human tand veterinarian medicine in Sub-saharian Africa
Fichier image/jpeg, 394k

© IRD Éditions, 2002

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