There is a common saying in Gombe State, the entire Northeast up to neighboring countries of Chad, Niger Republic and Cameroon: marry a Tula woman and you will never taste of another woman. While that might sound as a myth, recent developments in scientific research into herbal medicine, particularly in the past one decade, seem to confirm the popular saying as the development has been traced to a fruit called gorontula.
Goro is the Hausa word for kolanut, the caffeine fruit commonly consumed in the tropical part of Nigeria. Gorontula therefore literally translates to Tula’s kookaburra, meaning that unlike the common kolanut, gorontula is only found in Tula communities in Kaltungo Local Government Area of Gombe State and Michika in Adamawa State, both on the mountainous belt stretching across the two states.
In English language, gorontula is known variously as tree hibiscus, snot apple or African chewing gum because it is sweet and chewy with lots of fibre. Botanically, it is known as azanza garckeana or azanza for short.
There are four Tula communities, namely Wange Tula, Yiri Tula, Baule Tula and Kaltin Tula, all located in the mountainous and rocky parts of the state. But for reasons that probably border on climate or weather of the mountain, gorontula can only be found in Tula and Michika and nowhere else around the world, hence the reason it is called gorontula; a kind of kolanut peculiar to the Tula tribe in Gombe State.
The Tula communities were predominantly agrarian until recently when Gorontula began to attract the attention of fun seeking men and women who are rushing to the affected communities to obtain the fruits in order to satisfy their sexual fantasies.
“Men who want to satisfy their women come from as far as Chad, Niger and Cameroon to buy gorontula because it makes sex sweet for both women and men. It also works for fertility, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Heman Ephraim, the Seriki Gorontula.
“I have a history of high blood pressure, and each time I notice the sign, I just take the Gorontula and I will sleep and become normal,” he added.
Until 10 to 12 years ago, gorontula was just a fruit the Tulas took to the farm to assuage hunger and derive energy while working on their farms.
“We can work long hours on the farm taking only water and gorontula without feeling hungry,” said Salisu Malare, a gorontula produce trader in Tula.
According to him, the wide acclaim about the sexual ability of Tula women and men did not originate from Tula. “It was the testimony of men who married our women to confirm that they were brought up well,” he said, laughing.
Indeed, talks about sex usually elicits excitement from both sexes around Tula communities. Serah Jodah, for instance, said she had been eating gorontula from childhood and could not imagine that any other women could beat Tula women on bed. She said: “It is very true that gorontula makes our women sexually active and also repairs and cleanses the reproductive organs. We have been using it for long without even knowing the medicinal values of the fruit.”
On her part, Esther Umar said: “We took it for granted because we have always seen the gorontula as our own and it has become part of our daily food.
“Some women also use gorontula to cure infection, boost their fertility and increase libido.
“If a woman finds it difficult to conceive, we often take gorontula to enhance our fertility. Even those who experience dryness during intercourse use gorontula. And it is not only for women; both sexes use it. Men, in particular, come from different places to get it.”
Gorontula is an essential ingredient of Kayamata, a popular sex enhancing herb among Hausa people.
“Its honey, seeds and leaves are extracted and used for various medicinal purposes. It is the mainstay of the economy of Tula communities.
“This fruit has taken me to different parts of the country and beyond. I receive calls from as far Niger, Chad, Cameroon and even Europe by people demanding for it,” said Malare.
The Secretary to Mai Tula, Malam Yakulma Yaro, said the Mai of Tula, Alhaji Abubakar Buba Atare, often takes the fruits with him when travelling out of the country to create awareness for it.
Yaro said: “He is not just our traditional ruler and father but also our ambassador plenipotentiary.
“As the chancellor of a university in the Republic of Benin and a widely travel royal father, he preaches the gospel of gorontula wherever he goes, and that has helped to increase awareness about gorontula.
“It is also the reason why many researchers are working and discovering more about its medicinal values.
“Gorontula is our own, and because of that, we take it along with us wherever we go.”
Asked whether claims on the ability of the fruits to increase sex potency are true, Yaro laughed and said the judgment is better passedby those who have eaten or used it for that purpose.
According to him, if the experience of those that are using it was contrary to their expectations, there would not be continued influx of visitors to Tula for gorontula every year.
Beaming with smiles as he answered the reporter’s question to him, Yaro said: “My friend, don’t leave Tula today without a load of gorontula in your pocket, because I know you will come back for it, and by then, the question you asked me now would have been properly answered by your experience.”
At a military checkpoint on the road from Tula to Kaltungo, a group of women hawking Gorontula rushed towards motorists who were stopped by soldiers, shouting Gorontula.
The reporter asked what it is used for and one of them responded “abuna ne”, meaning it is for sex.
As the soldiers passed the vehicles the gorontula hawkers continued to chase the motorists until some of them parked to buy from them.
Among the travellers that patronised them was Yahaya who had come in from Adamawa State.
Yahaya said he always bought the gorontula each time he passed the place to give to his wife. Asked why, he looked into the reporter’s face and said, “You know.”
Mr. Patrick Umeh, a Gombe based herbalist who said he had used gorontula for more than 10 years, said it is capable of increase libido, lubricate the vagina, boost fertility and get rid of vagina odour.
He added: “With all these medicinal value of gorontula, you would understand why some men may go beyond looking for gorontula to look for Tula women, because the gorontula is traditional to them.
“I have heard of that popular saying myself, but I did not marry a Tula woman because the same work that gorontula does in a Tula woman can also be done in your own woman if you get gorontula for her.”
Although gorontula is out of season for now, it has not reduced the demand for it by Nigerians who are trooping to Tula for the African chewing gum.
Salisu Malare said in the pick of the season, a mudu of gorontula can sell for between N6,000 to N7,000 while a bag sells for between N60,000 and N70,000.
“You would not find many visitors now because the harvest season for gorontula is between December and January. By that time, the price will come down and many people will rush here to buy at cheaper price,” he said.