In the persistence, healing comes

Beverly Oliver | 8/10/2017, 11:06 a.m.
Adio Kuumba Akil stands 5 feet tall with a gargantuan persistence that brought herbal medicine specialist Dr. Sebi and his ...

He found more common ground with Caribbean healers and teachers, such as Dr. Abdul and Bongo Hu I of the Garden Holistic Institute, a training facility in Frederiksted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Akil recalled the curriculum of Sebi’s peers. “Dr. Abdul taught you healing through food, so this was natural healing through what you eat,” she said. “And that is how to prepare it, how to grow it, when to eat and when not to eat. With Bongo Hu I, who is a pharmacist and an herbalist, I learned more about the properties and the technical aspects of herbs and the effect of them on the body.”

She trained in Frederiksted’s mountainous rainforest, approximately 1,400 feet above sea level. “It was a school where you could learn everything in the natural realm,” she said. In 1981, she received a certificate in Natural Healing and Food Therapy from the Garden Holistic Institute. The following year she witnessed a resolved Sebi relocate to the U.S.

Since their days at the Institute, Akil and Sebi experienced parallel successes in natural healing and nutrition—Sebi with his African Bio Mineral Balance therapy, which continues to sell worldwide, including Europe, and Akil with her company Praises Enterprises.

“Dr. Sebi actually taught me how to make salves, how to make hair products, how to make skin products and how to make tonics,” she said. “And today I do food therapy and that’s helping people lose weight and get rid of diseases through what they eat.”

And even though Sebi died a year ago, Akil, in sustained true fashion, continues to advocate to clients and public audiences the holistic lifestyle he encouraged. “Dr. Sebi helped create a world for me and for many others,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see the picture that he painted 40 years ago still continue to manifest today and then seeing many young people going down the same road with the ability to create products because they feel empowered.”

Consumer researcher Nielsen confirms that trend with data that show millennials (people born between 1982 and 2000) are far more open to alternative medicine and holistic lifestyles than previous generations. Perhaps credit is indeed due Sebi for his part in affecting those attitudes in the U.S., and to Akil, who emerged a victor with her heartfelt pitch to Sebi more than 35 years ago.

Beverly Oliver is a writer based in Los Angeles, Calif. She is the author of the book, “Sojourn to Honduras Sojourn to Healing: Why an Herbalist’s View Matters More Today Than Ever,” which features the life of the late pathologist and natural healer Dr. Sebi. She also served as production assistant on the Peabody award-winning radio documentary “Wade in the Water: African-American Sacred Music Traditions.”