Bits Of ME
Innocence is to children; whose guilt conscience is at no fault for their vulnerability. After all, the mother is unconditionally willing to share a piece if not all of the blame.
To an adult, whose open secret is publicly grilled, guilt is an ever present ‘monkey on their/your back!
Sometimes the good things are far hidden in the dreaded jungle (that jungle could be your laborious job you curse every morning waking up to or a long trip to the well to fetch water) but the yield is worth the torture.
It was so many years back: walking through the quiet of the jungle, only our voice rubbed nature that surrounded our little physiques.
Within the thickets amassed by several shrubs and wild fruit trees scattered, our anxiety would be fattening at every feature.
As our little eyes searched for the gold among the bushes, my sister Liz and I would nourish our cravings mostly with the tiny guavas.
This ‘gold’ at the direction of our mother was what our bodies needed to receive a deep cleanse.
Memodica feotida also commonly referred to as Ebombo in local Luganda dialect was a constant. At no point would we even risk to ask, but her beckon was always loud and clear and unsurprisingly we just knew why.
Throughout our teen years, this was a local herb that countered our body odour. Then, my mother felt the guilt lay with her if my hygiene did not appeal to the community. Fast forward, those jabs will now be directed at me if what my body odour chokes the breath of those nearby.
Bits of YOU
“I lost my mother 39 years ago but my most memorable moments with her were the mother-daughter dialogues. Body hygiene was one of them and unfortunately such conversations are what is lacking in today’s parenting,” said Aisha Nakasujja a natural medicine scientist at Aloesha Organic.
Nakasujja shares that it was from such conversations that a child was told about body hygiene and taught proper cleaning and washing of their body to prevent foul body odour.
“…if you develop body odour, you would publicly be shunned but it is also a sign that you were never given any body hygiene lessons…That’s why whenever our mothers would tell us to go and bathe ‘ebombo’ we would automatically know what they meant so we would just run,” she said.
Herbal remedies leave the skin pores open so the normal skin breathing goes uninterrupted unlike in the case of using artificial formulations that may clog the pores thus leading to pore infections, says Dr Grace Nambatya, a medicinal chemist.
Dr. Vincent Karuhanga a physician at Friends Polyclinic said our bodies have certain areas which produce oily sweat mainly in the arm pits or leg pits, also the anus and the pubis; the perineum areas,
While a person may not have any smell, Dr. Karuhanga said once bacteria breaks down this oily sweat, one produces foul body odour. Oily sweat is produced by scent glands which develop at puberty.
“That’s the sweat responsible for making white t-shirts yellow in the arm pits and knickers yellow. The odour it emits is what is commonly known as kavubuka...” said Dr. Karuhanga.
Those indicators come out loudly during puberty.
What starts as whispers within the walls of an office often spirals into labels of ‘awunya’ (he/she smells) that wait for no ‘LUKE’ to save the victim.
The cold shoulder and silent treatment from a better-half who has been told that his body spills unwanted fumes to his beloved can turn a tasteful romance into bitter butter.
Then when the virtue of decency and discreet is ignored in a talent contest upon ‘agents of body odor’, a protest song is fired back and the ignorance about the unpleasantness of this condition are overlooked.
There can be odours from other areas such as armpits, thighs, cleavage, buttocks, under the breasts, mouth and nostrils and the feet.
Dr. Karuhanga says that on many an occasion, the person with a foul body odour will not know they’ve it because the victim gets used to how they smell which is scientifically known as olfactory fatigue.
“That’s why when one is told that they smell, they deny and can actually say, you are the one smelling,” Dr. Karuhanga explained.
I can liken that to the ‘Muwunya’ banter that has turned what would have been a lesson into a hangout laugh-about at a joint! Isn’t that the unscientific social olfactory fatigue?
While roots of culture and traditions that applauded and bolstered the use of local herbs to cleanse the body of any odour have been demonised by modern medicine, Nakasujja advises that a mix of both can help victims of body odour to avoid embarrassment
Treating body odour
- Bathe often at least 3 times a day with an antibacterial soap.
- Dry out properly after bathing
- Wash your clothes regularly and make sure to wear clean ones.
- Wear light clothing so that there is no accumulation of sweat on the body.
- Shave private parts often
- Use of deodorants
- Substances like aluminum anti-perspirant agents that reduce sweat.
- Avoid spicy foods which cause foot odour and eat a lot of fruits like pineapples
- Herbal remedies like green tea (Mujaaja or Kisubi tea) for their antioxidant and detoxifying potential
- Green tea bags treat smelly armpits or stinky feet. Dip some tea bags in warm water and once completely soaked, press against the underarm region and on the feet for 5 minutes each and rinse off, to regulate the sweat glands
Since the victim might not know that they have body odour; it is advised that the closest person to the victim should be the one to convey the unsettling ‘open secret’. One should also seek medical advice in extreme cases because at times it can be caused by medical concerns and the doctor can advise.