Pierre Verger is sadly becoming a forgotten figure outside of Salvador, Bahia, where he made his home for the latter part of his life. A photographer, anthropologist and babalawo originally from Paris, more than anyone, Verger studied and highlighted the relationship between the Yoruba in West Africa and Yoruba cultures in Brazil and Cuba. I have with me a copy of his magnificent book Ewe: the use of plants in Yoruba society, a beautifully illustrated book with recipes and incantations in both Yoruba and English. This knowledge of traditional herbal remedies, within the context of a Yoruba cosmology, is largely being lost in Yorubaland. At least the Pierre Verger Foundation in Bahia is working to archive this understanding. One day, perhaps the Yoruba in Nigeria will appreciate their heritage in a similar fashion by setting up a foundation for Yoruba culture, before all traces of the culture disappear or are reduced to tourist attractions.
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