In this retro series, NAIJ.com takes a journey down memory lane to look at the popular Alabukun powder that has survived more than 100 years in existence without any notable advertisement to keep its life going.
The Alabukun drug has been a very popular medication in different parts of the country although few people have wondered how it came into being and the brain behind it. The drug has become a ubiquitous one that for some, it is the first point of call for any kind of ailment. It is also relatively cheap and handy making it affordable for consumers.
The man behind the Alabukun Powder
Jacob Sogboyega Odulate who was born in 1884 in Ikorodu Lagos created what later became the legendary Alabukun drug in 1918. According to report, Odulate at age 14 trekked from Lagos to Abeokuta for three months where he later established his pharmaceutical invention.
The production of the Alabukun drug
In 1918 when Nigeria was still under serious colonial rule, Odulate with the help of his wife and children go to work at his laboratory and workshop at Sapon in Abeokuta. Most of its ingredients came from Liverpool and includes acetylsalicylic acid and caffeine as its active ingredients. “A packet contains 760 mg of acetylsalicylic acid and 60 mg of caffeine making a total of 820 mg.”
The drug became popular among those who preferred local medication to the European one because the powdery form of the Alabukun drug resembled traditional method of drug making which involved grinding the bark of trees into a powdery form. For others, Alabukun was a bridge between the traditional medication and the drugs introduced by the colonialist and was therefore easy to embrace by consumers.
Alabukun has been fondly referred to as “gbogbonise” especially by Yoruba-speaking Nigerians which literally translates to “a drug that cures all ailment.” This is because it is believed that it has the power to treat different illness especially pain, cold, headache and feverishness.
Why Alabkun is not advertise
Although very popular, Alabukun has found a way into the heart of Nigerians without being advertise. According to report, the drug was spread by word of mouth while drug shops were encouraged to recommend it as a treatment for cold and headache. The feedback was that it worked very fast and being cheap, it soon gained steady rise and popularity. From there, it spread quickly from the south west to other part of Nigeria and then to Benin Republic.
So why is this drug not being advertise even more than 100 years after it was produced?
The first report is that the quick popularity of the drug provided Odulate with a strong sense of assurance that there was no need for it. By the time the popularity of Alabukun spread, demand for it rose from consumers.
Besides that, it was reported that the composition of the drug made it impossible for it to be placed for advertisement as that would have forced it to be put out of market especially from pharmacists.
Even without the opportunity of being placed for advertisement and under the reprehensible colonialist government, Alabukun soared making it one of the most popular and oldest indigenous drugs in the country.