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Nsunko: Doing more harm than good?

NDANGWA MWITTAH, Choma
WHILE you are at it, pondering what to answer, in an effort to enjoy this sacred act, some love makers have resorted to using snuff, otherwise known as nsunko, to enhance their sexual drive.
When this reporter posted about nsunko and bulungu (beads) on his Facebook page, the comments were quite mystifying to say the least.
Gift Nkandu said the trend was growing, but that he would not allow it. Of course, Gift did not to give reasons.
Another one, Kanekwa Tundashi, said there was also ‘sweet lady’ and ‘full force’ which apparently goes with nsunko too.
But what really is this nsunko all about? Is it in any way a sex booster? Does it really tighten the muscles? Does it increase the body temperature and relax the muscles as it is claimed? Is it even safe to use?
These and a lot more other questions could be on many people’s minds. Esther is a hawker in Choma.
She sells oranges, groundnuts, bananas and sometimes an assortment of merchandise such as pegs and cooking sticks.
She also sells nsunko – the dark brownish powdered snuff that has all of a sudden become the ‘talk of town’.
She does so discreetly for reasons best known to herself.
Asked what it is used for, Esther, who was accompanied by another woman, said “vamene ivo vamene munamvela,” loosely translated as whatever you may have heard.
But the stories about it are too numerous, to say the least.
Prudence Tembo, 23, has used it before as a sex booster and does not fancy trying it again.
“Wait! You know about nsunko?” she asks before adding, “That thing is terrible I tell you! I’ve tried it once and never again will I use it.”
Apparently, there are a number of methods of using it.
Apart from sniffing the tobacco, others place the snuff on a piece of cloth and insert in their private parts.
Prudence says the drug makes one drowsy to an extent that the blood flow in the body is superfast, hence making the body warm.
“It just makes you drowsy. It is very bad. It got me nauseated the whole night. I can’t! Never again!” she emphasises.
She adds, “Oh! It’s really funny. Even men do these things. I used to find herbs in my boyfriend’s house though I never used to ask him about them.
But I would even find gels in the bedroom. There was also this certain coffee which was extremely good for body warmth. I used to take it too.”
So, it seems ‘warmth’ is everything in this sacred act.
Mary Nyongo otherwise known as Mama Nyongo, is a marriage counsellor and is aware of the use of nsunko, especially among women.
“nsunko nifwaka wamumphuno” (it’s the type of tobacco that you sniff) and from what I have gathered about it, my sister and others say it helps to bring down their BP. I don’t know whether this is true or not though,” she says.
There’s more.
She says one of her clients told her the substance is, used by others as a substitute to smoking cigarettes.
“One of my clients in America told me that those that want to avoid cigarettes especially those that are hypersensitive, use what is called snuff. They put it under their tongue and it helps to calm them down.
Otherwise, both are simply drugs,” she says.
Furthermore, Mama Nyongo says nsunko was there even in the olden days, but adds that the modern day nsunko, is usually mixed with what she called drugs and to be used as a sex stimulant.
“One person told me that once she takes it, she feels aroused. That is why it has become very common among some ladies. They mix it with drugs to get high and secondly, to boost their sexual feelings,” she says.
She says in traditional Africa, women knew the role sex played in marriage and went to great lengths to make themselves even erogenous.
“This was actually a preserve of elderly women back them. Old ladies even used to put an African medicine called nyang’anya in porridge to boost their sexual desire but the young ladies of today are using nsunko mixed with drugs for the same reason,” she says.
Some men also use nsunko.
“You can either sniff it or just put it in the mouth under the tongue to let it absorb there. It’s not a bad thing actually, for as long it works for me,” says Abel Moonga or Choma.
The Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Zambia (THPAZ) is also aware of the growing trend of the use of nsunko for various purposes.
The association’s take on the matter is an open-minded one.
Dr Rodwell Vongo, the association’s president, says THPAZ cannot condemn any person using the substance but advises that care should be taken before and when using such items, especially those that have not been subjected to scientific research.
“We know that people use these herbs in various ways and for various purposes. Sometimes, even munkoyo, which makes a good drink, can also be harmful, depending on the toxicity levels. So, people can use these things, but they should be careful. Scientific research is equally important, just like is the case with Sondashi Formula,” he says.
Others argue that sex should be enjoyed without the use of any boosters. They argue that there is a danger in using herbs because any friction could lead to injuries and some bruises which could lead to infections.
The Ministry of Health, is however, discouraging the use of sex stimulants.
Health Minister, Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the chemical component of nsunko is mainly that of nicotine, a nitrogen containing chemical – an alkaloid, which is made by several types of plants, including the tobacco plant.
It can either stimulate or depress the nervous system, the more reason Chainama Hills Hospital advises against its use as it makes one violent.
“It is not scientifically proven that nsunko can stimulate someone sexually. Some people might even be depressed by it instead of being stimulated,” Mary Banda, senior nursing officer at the hospital was recently quoted as saying.
A recent investigation by the Daily Vox of South Africa established that though snuff is smokeless, it is addictive and dangerous.
The World Health Organisation warns that snuff causes oral, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer.
“Young women have become so desperate to please men to a point that they would insert something toxic substances into their genitals, and sadly they aren’t even aware of the danger associated with the substance,” the Daily Vox observed in one of its publications.
It also established that the sexual claims associated with snuff are myths and people who use it intravaginally risk getting cervical cancer.
However, nsunko is not listed as a prohibited substance under the Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Act Cap 96 of the Laws of Zambia and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) can only do so much against it.
DEC public relations officer Theresa Katongo says the commission can only sensitise people against the use of nsunko.
“Therefore, it is very difficult for us to make any arrests because the drug is not listed as a prohibited drug. But we are aware that people sell and use it. Just like we have been doing with all these other psychotropic substances, people shouldn’t abuse these things,” she says.
Whether the stories about it are true or not, at least one known fact is that it is not a prohibited drug, and clearly, those who seek satisfaction will definitely go out of their way despite all the risks to their health.


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