Shape of Things to Come: Dr. Sebi's Dembali
When Dr. Sebi retired from daily consultations with clients and retreated to Honduras, he filled the void with his memoir. He called it The Cure: The Autobiography of Dr. Sebi “Mama Hay”. He dictated, copyrighted, edited and — put it on hold. Yes he did. I know firsthand many of you wait with bated breath for The Cure’s final stages, publishing and distribution. Me too.
Dr. Sebi transitioned in 2016 but, yet again, he filled a void, this time with a book he deemed a greater necessity than his life’s story. He called the theme dembali. In one of our conversations, he said,
“And this is why for us to really get over, get over meaning what, from the state of disease to ease, that jump, that crossing over is called dembali.”
Dr. Sebi Speaks of Dembali bears that theme. Dictated, copyrighted and in the editing stage, it has a launch date of 2020 and takes a dutiful step further material presented in Seven Days in Usha Village and Sojourn to Honduras Sojourn to Healing. If you read those books or listened to him in person or on the internet, you know Dr. Sebi, that champion of natural healing, is also an unshrinking, no holds barred speaker. That persona, likewise, weaves its way through Dembali. Yet, there’s healing in his message. You’ll see. Here now, excerpts from the book I’m honored to complete, Dr. Sebi Speaks of Dembali.
Hippocrates went to Africa to learn the uses of herbs
Sebi eventually traveled to Zimbabwe. He met the country’s public health officials there, including the Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr. David Parirenyatwa. But as you might already know, from reading Seven Days in Usha Village: A Conversation with Dr. Sebi, the trip turned out bittersweet, with Sebi feeling that since the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe is named after Dr. Parirenyatwa’s father, Dr. Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa, the public health officials will listen to but not act on what Sebi the herbalist has to offer. On November 7, 2005, inside Sebi’s cabin at Usha Village, he recounted what happened before and during his trip to Zimbabwe.
“We heard there was a situation in Zimbabwe that merits attention. My wife [Matun] and I said look, since Africa is Mother Africa and Zimbabwe is in need, just go there. Just go to Zimbabwe. So, she put aside so many thousands of dollars, and I went to Zimbabwe to help them. And when we got there, they put us through a lot of red tape. I understand that too. I didn’t mind. Then they say okay, you’re going to get an audience with the minister of health. I said okay. So, I got the audience with the minister of health, Dr. Parirenyatwa. And that’s the name of the hospital. Her and I said if this minister of health name is the name of the hospital and his daddy was the first black doctor in southern Rhodesia, we put it together. He’s not going to do it. Why would he compromise his position to an herbalist? Regardless if people die.”
That state of limbo reared its head again in America, with U.S. Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. Sebi often talks about the time in March 2004, when he travelled to Washington, D.C. with singer Michael Jackson to help him and members of the Congressional Black Caucus launch an HIV/AIDS fundraising tour. Ambassadors from several African countries also attended: Angola, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, several of them ravaged by AIDS. Sebi didn’t speak at the meeting but he was certain all the attendees knew about his treatments for AIDS, but they withheld verbal or other kinds of support. They essentially sidelined him. Maybe he’s in the way of some secret AIDS arrangement, Sebi tells me one afternoon at Usha Village.
“I don’t think it’s a secret arrangement. I think you have to be validated. I think with a lot of us, including African Americans . . .”
“You have to be validated?!” he interrupted. “Nobody in the United States has been more validated than Dr. Sebi. He was validated by the Supreme Court to the extent that he is the one that was given the credit to install an institute that is validated by the Supreme Court. Validated! So I have to be validated by a white man for my black brothers to accept me?! Well if that is the thing, they all are going to die. It’s as simple as that. It’s as simple as that. So validated, validated? Those who have been validated, do they cure anything? So we shouldn’t use validation as the premise or as the foundation or as a reason . . .”
“. . . to accept you,” I said.
“We’re not going to do it. I live in a decent place. I live in a nice place. That’s it. So the world showed me you don’t give a fuck, fine. The world showed me that’s where you are, well that’s good with me. But I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be, right? Happy. I brought you a gift and you should be glad. Beyond that point, fuck you. Straight up. Because you have no respect for your mother. The black African people have no respect for their mother, not one country has exhibited that. I’m not talking about I’m sorry because I’m not validated, no. It’s not about being validated. Those black African people have no respect for their mother. And I want that in the book.”
“Yes, it will be there,” I promised.
“Validation,” he continued. “Hippocrates went to Africa to learn the uses of herbs, but they’re going to prefer a white perspective above their own mother. Well, that’s fine with me. I didn’t. I’m cured. But I know for certain that every African leader is impotent. That I know.”
“He has to be. I know that because we found impotence in Africa at age nineteen, on the average is thirty. And those leaders eat cassava that you can’t tell them about. Hm. Yeah, the African that I learn in my house is not the African I saw when I went to Africa. And I want to read that in this book, because we have got to start defending ourselves against the ruthlessness, against inequity. We hide the inequity that exists in the black family. We hide it. So therefor it is perpetuated by the leaders. They don’t give a damn about what they could do or not do, because they know that you’re going to hide it. Because you’re going to say, ‘Well, you know, uh, you know, you got to give him time, and after all.’ Yeah, ok, all these excuses.”
It was a contentious moment, and I admit I fanned the flames. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, which is why I mentioned validation. Skeptics want proof you can cure the incurable. They want to see your published thesis or framed degree or seal of approval from the powers that be. Until they see any of that, you’re persona non grata. But then there are times when people simply don’t know what you can do.
I’m going to mention Chancellor Williams now
A friend convinced Sebi to go visit historian Dr. Chancellor Williams to help restore his vision. But down through the years, Sebi tells me, many supporters like his friend (and me) jump at the chance to promote his natural healing without knowing the backlash and turned backs he’s experienced, even abroad.
“Everybody comes to me after others have failed,” he said. “So my position is one that is not so secure in the sense that people come to me first. No. They come to me after they had five operations, chemotherapy, about a thousand doses and many tablets. Then they come to me when everything is about to fall apart. ‘And Sebi, you better perform. And if you don’t perform, you’re a liar.’ Oh, but then you go to the man, like Chancellor Williams. I’m going to mention Chancellor Williams now, the man that wrote The Destruction of Black Civilization, the man who should have showed us what was the cause of the destruction, and what was lost in the destruction. He didn’t mention that. So Chancellor Williams now, he is going to be asked a question, that he, I know, went to his grave thinking about it. What was the question? Right in D.C. at the Woodner Apartment. I was taken there by a sister, and I told her, I said why do you want to take me to this man? This man is a writer. This man is a historian. This man is not a common man. I am a common man. And elite people does not share moments with common people. They just don’t do that. Because women have told me, in California, ‘Well, Alfredo, I don’t believe that we could have anything in common because I’m educated.’ And I agree with her. I said girl you’re right. So, Chancellor Williams, being that he the educator, I said to her,
‘Why do you believe that he’s gonna submit to whatever I have to say?’
‘Because of what your history is.’
I said, ‘Yeah? Let’s go.’
Because she was just like you, ‘Oh no, Oprah gonna do it,’ he said, remembering our conversation about an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She said, ‘Oh no, Chancellor Williams is gonna do it.’ I said just go. So I went. And I went upstairs and I saw the man. I said good morning. It was early in the morning. The first thing I saw on his mantle was a lady that was not black as his wife. I said this is the man that’s been writing about us. Fine. Well, it’s all commerce. It’s money. It’s a book. Make money, like Alex Haley, Roots. It was good. Everybody bought Roots. It’s a book that you read that something happened. You put it on the shelf. So I said,
‘Chancellor Williams, Mr. Williams, I have been, in the past, useful in reversing a disease that I was told you are suffering from. You are losing your sight.’
He said, ‘Oh yes. That’s true. That’s true.’
I said, ‘Mr. Williams I have helped many that were blind. After eleven years they’re seeing.’
‘Oh, but my doctor said that everything’s ok. Everything’s all right.’
‘Mr. Williams, how many years have you been seeing your physician?’
‘Oh, he been my physician for twenty-seven years.’
I said, ‘But when he first became your physician did you have your sight, completely?’
He said, ‘Yes.’
‘Well, it became progressively worse later on?’
‘And everything is all right?’
Well, if Mr. Chancellor Williams, an educator, an historian, an archeologist, took that position against me without a legitimate excuse, what do you think I expect from the rest of the public?”
excerpt from upcoming book Dr. Sebi Speaks of Dembali by Beverly Oliver