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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 2, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 16

Know Your Spears

By Lendon H. Smith, MD
About 12 years ago my wife and I visited Kenya. I was trying to imitate the travels and field research of the dentist, Dr. Weston Price, who was looking for the perfect tooth. He found it back in the 1930s, but it was not in the heads of civilized people. He found it in the mouths of primitive people in New Guinea, in the Eskimos, in the tribes of isolated Northern Canadian Indians, the people of some valleys in Switzerland, and in the Masai tribe in the horn of Africa. He was fascinated with the fact that all these people had beautiful teeth and usually good dental arches, but they were eating a variety of foods. There was no one diet that gave them this advantage over us civilized types. He found as you may have guessed, their diets had no sugar, no white bread, and much of the food these people ate was raw.

We visited a Masai tribe with our guide, Stephen. We took pictures of their teeth. How white and how even they were. A couple of them did have crowded teeth, so breast-feeding for a year or two does not preclude malocclusion. The chief of the tribe sold me a spear for $15. When the chief looks you in the eye and says, "You buy a spear?" You buy a spear. A few minutes later an assistant chief pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to buy a spear.

"I have one" seemed to be an appropriate response from me.

His quick reply, "One spear good; two spears excellent."

Stephen got us out of more entanglements there. But back in the bus, he was laughing. When pressed for a reason, he giggled out, "Bwana, you bought child's spear." I had thought I would be the envy of the neighborhood when we got home; I could show it off that it might have killed a lion at one time.

I also found out that the chief uses this as a sign of authority. He usually has three or four wives, and each have their huts and care for their own children. If he wants to sleep with wife number two, for instance, he will march over to her hut and stick the spear into the ground in front of the entrance. When she comes out to do some chores and sees the spear, she knows that he is serious. But, she has a choice. She can leave the spear there, upright and erect, to let him know it is okay, or she can pull the spear out of the ground, break it in half and throw it down. That means, "Forget it chief; I have a headache." Hurrah for women's lib.

Most primitive people have found that nursing a baby is a reasonable, albeit unreliable, contraceptive device. If, however, a woman has a baby in less than a year or a year and one-half from the last pregnancy, the tribe is disturbed because they know that a short interval between pregnancies will often produce weak and sickly children -- often shorter, smaller boned, and allergic. As a lesson and a warning, they may "cut" the father in a significant manner. Use your imagination.

So, when I put the spear at the foot of the bed, my wife just smirks and says, "Child's spear."

Lendon H. Smith, M.D.
Portland, Oregon

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