Posted in Culture By unaija

Dibia or Native Doctor? What you Need to Know

A DIB?A in Igbo culture is a man or a woman with vast knowledge of nature and spirituality. In some cases they are called the wise ones, great ones, the eyes of the gods, or doctors which is the literal meaning of the word DIB?A in Igbo language, ( native doctors).
In this knowledge, mostly people are divinely chosen to be a DIB?A, and sometimes also can be learned by being around or serving as apprentice to a well rich in knowledge DIB?A.
There are several branches of being a DIB?A, hence being a DIB?A is a vast knowledge, and I mean as vast as when you say in English that someone is a doctor.

For example in western world a doctor defines as follows.
A teacher or a learned man.
A person who holds a doctorate.
A physician or surgeon.
A person licensed to practice any of the healing arts, as an osteopath, dentist, veterinarian, etc.
And this word doctor is said to be originated from an old Latin word of doctore which means a teacher, and in middle English as doctor, teacher, or learned man.
So in Igbo setting, DIB?A being a vast field of knowledge includes (1) DIB?A NGB?R?GW? NA MKPA AKW?KW? which we call herbalist in English language.
These are people that specializes in discovering, and treating sicknesses using roots, herbs and nature materials. All their goals are saving life.
(2) EZEMM??, (CHIEF PRIEST OF AN ORACLE) They are also being referred to as the mouthpiece of gods.

These are another set of people which we also refer to as DIB?A. They serve as mediators between the people and the oracles. They offer sacrifices to the gods and the Oracle, and alert the leadership of the people when things are going bad in the society, eg when an abominable act is perpetrated neither in the secret or openly, so they are often called names like the voice of the gods or the eyes of the gods.
(3) DIB?A OWUMMIRI or the mediator between the water goddesses and man. These are special section of DIB?As whos works are often reaching out to the river goddesses and gods, helping people with issues relating to water spirits like ?gbanje and iyi?wa problems. They can offer sacrifices, and intermediate between the person involved and the spirits in other to bring solutions.
(4) DIB?A MGBA AFA, OR MGBA NSI which in English can be referred as diviners, soothsayers, fortune tellers, all kinds of seers etc. These are specialists in every spiritual inquiries. When you approach them for your problems all they do is consult the spirit of the ancestors which will reveal to them the root of the problem and what can be done for a permanent solution of it. Sometimes due to they have limited powers in solving problems, they might direct you to a higher power or can also go in your name and at the end the goal is to get the solution.

(5) DIB?A NHA MMIRI or rain doctors as English calls it.
These I have mentioned so far are all in the fields of being a DIBIA (native doctors). Rain doctors are the people that possesses the power to control rain and winds. They can cause wind to blow, make it rain, and can also make it stop raining. They are the only people that possess the natural/ spiritual/scientific knowledge of doing this.
Sometime among them there are ones that only have the power to cause the wind to blow shifting rainfall from one direction to another or stop it from falling at a particular location at a particular time, (?ch?mmiri) and some can only make rain to fall, but can not control or stop rain from falling, (?hammiri) but there are ones that have the power to carry out both still. (ND? NA ACH? MA NA AHAKWA MMIRI)
In all these, like I mentioned earlier, mainly people are divinely chosen by the spirit to serve them on each various field, and one can also acquire this knowledge by staying close to a DIB?A or serving as an apprentice to a DIB?A.

Though one person sometimes can divinely be blessed with all of this knowledge in one, but I want us to have this understanding that there are differences in them.
There are some DIB?A that can only give medicines and heal sicknesses, but can not predict anything, and such people are called for that purpose only.
There are some that specialized in predictions, fortune-telling or any kind of igba afa, but they can not heal sicknesses.
In rain doctoring, I know some rain doctors that can only bring rain down, but cannot stop or control the raining. And there are also some that have the power to control both.
So in the Igbo setting all this people are recognised in their various fields.
This teaching becomes very important not for just to the ordinary people, but to those who are operating as DIB?AS today in and around the society.
Because some few bad eggs have destroyed the legacies of our ancestors in this field.
People must be made to understand that being a DIB?A is never a license to kill or to perpetrate all kinds of atrocities thereby causing pain and sorrows to the people. Rather being a DIB?A is a call to save life, to heal, to teach and uplift the people.
Yes I understand that anyone that possesses the knowledge of what saves, also must have the ideas of what kills, yes this is just about having the knowledge of negativity and positivity, but the right thing here is that you must be positive here hence life is involved. Because our people said that okenye ekunyere nwa ?sina ezen'egbu ya marakwa na ekunyeghi ya nwa ka otagbue atagbue. Lol. An adult who a baby is given to and she started complaining that she is having toothache should be mindful that the baby was given to her not to be bitten. This just a proverb.

So they told you all the negative sides of African healing strategies and DIB?A, but you never asked them the positive sides???
So you believe that DIB?As or native doctors are bad due to some perceived bad eggs amongst them that are often negative in their practice, but you have not asked your self who is responsible for creation of some deadly diseases like Ebola, SARS, Lassa fever, HIV and AIDS etc????
African spirituality is never an evil practice the way western religion, western education, Western media and some bad eggs amongst us has made it to look like, it is all about being positive and always maintaining positive vibrations.
Before the western psychiatric treatment came to Africa, Africans have been treating psychiatric related cases including madness of all sorts.
Before western ways of health care came to Africa, Africans have been enjoying good health, good medications through nature produces and spirituality.
Every poison has its antidote, every sickness has cure in African ways of healings, every problem has remedy.


Credit: Igbo History