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The Power of Potions

Video clips from: Day of the Zulu


Watch these video clips with your students. The questions that accompany them can be discussed in class or printed out and answered individually by your students.

Video Clip 1 A horn that was used by Zulu warriors to carry a certain snuff was found at the battle site. Zulu medicine man, Credo Mutwa provided Ian Knight with some traditional warrior snuff, which may have been carried in those horns during the 1879 battle. Ian has the snuff chemically tested.

Play Video Clip 1

Questions:
  • What did the pharmacologist find in the snuff?

  • How did these test results help explain the Zulu victory?

  • Besides snuff, what else did medicine men provide for their warriors?
Video Clip 2 Botanist Ben-Erik van Wyk finds the bulb and has it tested for its anesthetic abilities. Credo Mutwa tells of a hallucinogenic mushroom that was also used by Zulu warriors.

Play Video Clip 2

Questions:
  • How was (and is) the bulb traditionally used?

  • What types of chemicals were found in the bulb? How do these chemicals affect the body?

  • Why do you think Credo said this mushroom was used only by those who did not expect to return from battle?
Video Clip 3 Toxicologist, John Henry, investigates the effect of the mushroom in a carefully controlled test between two kick-boxers with fascinating results.

Play Video Clip 3

Questions:
  • What effect does the muscimol-containing mushroom have on a person?

  • Describe how this test was controlled.

  • What was one negative effect of the muscimol?

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