Some case studies of cultures in east-central Africa have brought to light some remarkable evidence revealing the presence of scientific medicine there. The practice of carrying out autopsies on patients dying of unknown causes among the Banyoro of Uganda and the Likundu of Central Africa has been described. Almost always these were carried out to detect a possible witchcraft etiology but may well have contributed to a more extensive knowledge of anatomy than previously supposed:MORE
“The procedures for autopsying bodies under the Likundu culture have been reviewed, not for the purpose of considering the beliefs that impelled such procedures but to indicate that in some areas autopsies were frequently carried out and that they involved searching in the body, a search which might be casual and superficial but which in other cases might be prolonged and exacting and involved opening up and examining a variety of organs. These are precisely the circumstances under which considerable knowledge of anatomy and pathology could be acquired by persons who, for any purpose, might wish to do so. (22)
Further, there is a report of a Banyoro king who commissioned a traditional doctor to travel around the countryside to investigate, describe, and search for a cure for sleeping sickness, which was ravaging the country at the time.(23) This clearly indicates that a spirit of clinical investigation did exist among Banyoro physicians and probably among other traditional practitioners as well. In many parts of Africa, treatments were devised for new diseases like venereal disease and scrofula that were imported into Africa and this would presuppose some form of clinical investigation and experimentation.
Long long ago, Kintu was the only person on the earth. He lived alone with his cow, which he tended lovingly. Ggulu the creator of all things lived up in heaven with his many children and other property. From time to time, Ggulu’s children would come down to earth to play. On one such occasion, Ggulu’s daughter Nambi and some of her brothers encountered Kintu who was with his cow in Buganda. Nambi was very fascinated with Kintu and she felt pity for him because he was living alone. She resolved to marry him and stay with him despite the opposition from her brothers. But because of her brothers’ pleading, she decided to return to heaven with Kintu and ask for her father’s permission for the union.
Ggulu was not pleased that his daughter wanted to get married to a human being and live with him on the earth. But Nambi pleaded with her father until she persuaded him to bless the union. After Ggulu decided to allow the marriage to proceed, he advised Kintu and Nambi to leave heaven secretly. He advised them to pack lightly and that on no condition were they to return to heaven even if they forgot anything. This admonition was so that Walumbe, one of Nambi’s brothers should not find out about the marriage until they had left, otherwise he would insist on going with them and bring them misery ( walumbe means that which causes sickness and death). Kintu was very pleased to have been given a wife and together they followed Ggulu’s instructions. Among the few things that Nambi packed, was her chicken. They set out for earth early the next morning.