Posted in Food & Health

Meet Dr Yemisi Bokinni

I met Dr Yemisi Bokinni at TEDxUnilag, and she is amazing. When I approached her, I didn’t recognise her as one of the speakers. She had these beautiful crotchet braids on and that’s why I went to meet her, to talk about her hair and she loved mine too (I had my faux zipped yarn locs then). So hair brought us together. Imagine my shock when she was called onstage to speak. I felt very privileged. Among the speakers, I decided to interview her because she focused on a topic we would rather not talk about, health. African health specifically and not the usual areas people like to hammer on but areas we’ve subconsciously pushed under the carpet.

She talked about alcohol consumption and how it’s a rich source of calories, it’s as bad as eating junks. She talked about Africa’s readiness to tackle our current lifestyle medically if our facilities are actually up to date. It made me realise that if we are live the urban lifestyle of processed foods then we should be prepared for the health risk that accompanies it.

She talked about alcohol consumption and how it’s a rich source of calories, it’s as bad as eating junks. She talked about Africa’s readiness to tackle our current lifestyle medically if our facilities are actually up to date. It made me realise that if we are live the urban lifestyle of processed foods then we should be prepared for the health risk that accompanies it.

Dr Bokinni is a British-Nigerian doctor who graduated from the King’s College London, she is also very passionate about a better healthier lifestyle for Africans and the world at large. She has travelled to different continents for different health projects. She currently runs a public health weekly podcast called Daily Run Africa. Follow Dr Yemisi Bokinni on instagram, twitter and facebook.

Me – You are a medical doctor whose passion and dedication stands out. Do you have to sacrifice a lot to make it possible?
Dr Y B – It’s a pleasure to be interviewed for your blog! Medical training is lengthy and demanding, but impossible to complete well if you do not enjoy the subject.

I enjoyed studying medicine, and was classified as a bit of a bookworm! This drive really wasn’t based on external motivators to get the best grades or awards, but simply because I enjoy learning. Don’t get me wrong, things were tough at times, at times you may feel fed up, but such feelings were often temporary.

Yes, I’ve ‘sacrificed’ a lot, but they somewhat don’t feel like sacrifices to me, as I enjoyed the process. Life shouldn’t be lived feeling like we are sacrificing our very being to live. There’s a phrase I often repeat to myself..there are many roads towards success, choose the one that lets you LIVE along the way!

Me – That’s very good. Enjoying life, not having to endure it. People have this misconception of doctors being frustrated about life. It’s refreshing to get this view from a doctor. Is your perception of life affected by your upbringing?

Dr Y B – Well, I actually left clinical practice in December 2014, that’s not because I was frustrated though!

I had been working on a public health promotion platform titled ‘Daily Run Africa’ since 3rd year of med school. Medicine was perceived as a means to equip me enough to take Daily Run Africa forward in a way that it would have a significant impact with a good dose of credibility! We‘ve only just recently launched, but I’m excited to share all the work we’ve been working on, which includes a video documentary series!

You could definitely say my perception is from my upbringing; I have a mother who is quite open-minded and innovative in her thinking. She encouraged me to move forward with a number of random but interesting projects I’ve been involved in over the past 7 years, which has taken me everywhere from China to Romania, Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland…the list goes on!
Me – I saw your conversations online about Daily Run Africa, it is very impressive. You work with facts and seem very knowledgeable about African health problems that are not obvious but are existent. Can tell us more about it and what you hope to achieve.

Dr Y B – Daily Run Africa is a health promotion platform, which I am working on converting into a region-specific TV series, and is aimed at tackling the rising rates of lifestyle-related diseases on the continent. I’ve worked in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and have noted that whilst our diets and lifestyles are changing, the medical infrastructure to deal with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and the likes, is nowhere near the level it should be. Prevention must, therefore, be our primary aim. The discussions, interviews and video documentaries will all focus on the concept of nutrition via highlighting the value of indigenous and local agriculture, as well as highlighting some of the sports and fitness movements currently taking place on the continent.

Me – It’s one of the best things in the world to have a supportive mother. Can tell us more about your family and upbringing?
Dr Y B – I was born and raised in London, and have two older brothers. Most of my family live between the UK, US and Nigeria. I understand Yoruba perfectly well and speak it if I really need to.

Me – How would you advise Africa tackle it’s health problems especially due to the way Africans living in urban areas consume processed foods.


Dr Y B I have observed the trends, and they are worrying. One of my main reasons for starting Daily Run Africa was on the basis of the observations I made in China on two visits over the course of about 5 years. On the backdrop of massive economic growth in China, cases of lifestyle-related diseases are rising at alarming rates. My theory is that these trends are predictable, and have occurred in almost every developed economy to date, so why should such predictable trends become Africa’s problem?

Me – Do you think that native herbs can play an important role in the health sector if researched and utilized well?

Dr Y B – I do, however, I am an academic at heart so it will take a wealth of research and data to convince me of the curative properties of any herbs. Whilst I do not advocate for the use of herbs for treating medical conditions, I do think that they can contribute to overall wellbeing when we consider the vitamins and minerals they are likely to contain. As part of the Daily Run Africa filming for the West Africa edition, I’ll be spending a month at an African herb production site in a few weeks time. Updates on our experiences can be found on the web pages/blog, or via the twitter feed @drbokinni

Author:

I'm OnyinyeOlufunmi, a visual artist, writer and psychologist from Lagos, Nigeria.

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