Until 90 years ago, powder made from mummies, i.e. human corpses, was considered a useful drug in Europe, and available in pharmacies until 1924. I need to remind myself of this when reading about body-part juju in Africa. The practice arose from a misinterpretation of the Arabic word for bitumen, mumiya.
The third step in misinterpreting mummia was to substitute the blackened flesh of an entire mummy for the hardened bituminous materials from the interior cavities of the cadavers. The ancient tombs of Egypt and the deserts could not meet the European demand for the drug mumia, so a commerce developed in the manufacture and sale of fraudulent mummies, sometimes called mumia falsa. The Italian surgeon Giovanni da Vigo (1450-1525) defined mumia as “The flesh of a dead body that is embalmed, and it is hot and dry in the second [grade], and therefore it has virtue to incarne [i.e., heal over] wounds and to staunch blood”, and included it in his list of essential drugs.
See also this article (in English) published by German pharma company Merck.
The Czech contribution to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest is by a band with the not-so-Czech-sounding name Lake Malawi. I saw lots of things in their video, as far as I followed it, except anything from Malawi, lake or otherwise. I guess it’s just a name … Wikip.: “the band’s name, is inspired by the song “Calgary” by [a band named – D.S.] Bon Iver, from their 2011 … album”. And then? I go and check. A German website has more: singer Černý was inspired by the line “So it’s storming on the lake” from “Calgary”, and Lake Malawi was chosen because “it sounds like a far-off romantic place” (my trans.). That’s got to be the reasoning of a Eurovisionary!
30 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Three weeks ago I was looking for a present for dad, and as a late thought I considered Gert Dietrich’s Cultural History of East Germany (Kulturgeschichte der DDR) a good idea, albeit an expensive one, perhaps a joint present for us all. So I went to Göttingen’s best academic bookshop, which happens to be located down the road from the publishing house where the book was made. I couldn’t find it on their shelves and asked for it. Their response: it’s “too exotic” for them to have it on stock. East German matters are “too exotic” some 60km from the old border, I get it. You wonder why I feel at home in Africa, kkkkkkkk! Have a happy anniversary next year, you re-united Germany!
Goethe, Germany’s “bard” and “national poet” forever, has his most famous character Faust make an Easter walk. Upon leaving Magdeburg, I felt I should follow suit. Some of the action in Faust is set in the Harz mountain range, and since it happens to be right in the middle of a bee’s line from Magdeburg to Göttingen, my home of over six years now, I went there and walked all the way up tp the summit of the Brocken, at 1141m northern Germany’s highest peak.
I was with Chimz in Malawi when Cyclone Idai hit the East African coast near Beira in Mozambique. Malawi and Mozambique had had losses of life before due to flooding and falling trees, but the full blow of Idai was something else. Some suggest it will turn out to be the worst natural desaster to have hit the southern hemisphere in known history. Idai left hundreds dead in southern Malawi, eastern Zimbabwe and, foremost of all, in central Mozambique. Beira, a big city, is largely destroyed, and an inland ocean has been formed, in which to this day survivors are struggling with the water, with moskitos, snakes and wild animals and the lack of the bare necessities of life.
Just when I become too proud of my music collection (which is amazingly diverse and, well, just amazing!) and of my increasing knowledge of music, especially African music, I am humbled by a new discovery. Now, that’s a misnomer, because as a rule I have discovered that music in question just as much as Livingstone discovered the Falls that he had the nerve to name after an English queen who had never, nor would ever, set eyes on them. They, the Falls and Makame’s music had – always – already been there. A known fact as there can be one.