Safer than blue pill? Libido hunt puts turtles in danger

Octopus soup also touted as making men a ‘lion’ in the bedroom

In Summary

• Amid Viagra-linked deaths, Lamu elders recommend octopus and turtle soup instead

• Some users attest to their safety and effectiveness, though there is no scientific proof

A turtle heads back to the Indian Ocean in Lamu
A turtle heads back to the Indian Ocean in Lamu

Many men have suffered shameful deaths after popping ‘blue pills’ to sexually please women only to die ‘in the line of duty’.

For the fun of it, most of the time, men, both young and old are frequenting pharmacies for the performance-enhancing drugs commonly known as the “blue pill”.

Between December 2020 and mid-January this year, various men from different parts of Kenya ended up dead after overconsuming the pill, with more following suit in the months since.

The drugs work by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation, later followed by a firm erection.

Lamu-based gynaecologist Geoffrey Opondo says the problem comes in when the user suffers from a pre-existing condition, mostly heart problems.

“For such people, death becomes inevitable after using such drugs. You see when the pill is taken, it causes the walls of blood vessels in the penis to relax, allowing blood to flow through easily," Opondo said.

“Thereafter, an erection is achieved after sexual stimulation. This erection can go on for hours, making it very painful. It’s unfortunate that death occurs during such times." 

Lamu elders believe the solution to all this lies with traditional remedies, including endangered turtles, which have been ignored and labelled backwards by modern man.

The elders defend their choice, saying it is an honourable way for a man to boost his libido without having to endure shameful pangs when things go wrong. With the traditional way, they say, nothing could ever go wrong.

A man holds a fresh octopus on Lamu island
A man holds a fresh octopus on Lamu island
Why go and die on Viagra and the rest when we have traditional ways right at our disposal that are both safe and effective?
Shariff Kambaa


Lamu Council of Elders chairperson Shariff Kambaa says elders are better placed to advise on effective traditional ways of addressing sexual issues among men as they have been around long enough.

He says traditional aphrodisiac cuisine, such as octopus soup and meat, nutmeg, turtle fat and meat, mushrooms and many others are proven to be effective and safe in addressing sexual challenges among men.

Kambaa says men need to make these foods a daily part of their diet and witness for themselves how they will never ‘run out’ of libido, even when they are old and less energetic.

“Why go and die on Viagra and the rest when we have traditional ways right at our disposal that are both safe and effective? Don’t kill yourself in the pursuit of sexual gratification the hard way. It’s shameful for a man to die that way," he said.

Lamu is a huge market for octopus meat, which is consumed in large quantities both by locals and visitors, mostly men, due to its alleged effectiveness in resolving issues of erectile dysfunction and impotence.

For decades, residents of Lamu and the Coast region have been known to hunt and kill turtles for their meat and for medicinal purposes.

Apart from boosting male sexual prowess, the turtle fat is also used to treat various ailments, including asthma, tuberculosis and impotence.

Currently, there is a ban on turtle hunting in efforts towards conservation and preservation of their dwindling population.

Lamu Council of Elders chairperson Shariff Kambaa
Lamu Council of Elders chairperson Shariff Kambaa


Kambaa says the traditional aphrodisiacs are proven and tested as they have been used by their ancestors before them.

“Our forefathers would marry as many as six wives and each of these women was sexually gratified simply because those men ate octopus, turtles and mushrooms. They passed the knowledge down to us and we intend to pass it down to these young men who are collapsing and dying because of the white man’s medicine," he said.

He says it is their responsibility as elders to show the younger generation of men the way to go if at all they have to have good sex and live long while at it.

“The problem with many of them, especially those who have acquired some education, is that they think we are mad and that they know everything. I want to tell them that if they don’t go back to their roots, then the pill shall be their end, but at least I told them," he says.

The council deputy chairperson Abubakar Shelali says moral decadence, poor diet and the Internet are largely responsible for pushing men into abusing and using the blue pill as they seek faster solutions to boosting their sex lives.

He urged men to especially embrace a healthy and balanced diet that will in turn enable them to achieve the much-needed sexual gratification.

“The Internet is the biggest culprit when it comes to peer pressure and unnecessary influences. Many of those using the pill first saw or heard about it on the Internet and on the various social media platforms. Simply eat well, include lots of fish and a daily cup of octopus soup, and you are good to go. That's how our ancestors lived and the women were happy," Shelali said.

The elders said as opposed to the blue pill, the traditional aphrodisiacs have no side effects and cannot kill no matter the amount consumed.

“What they do is that they increase the body heat and enable the man to never experience fatigue during the act. That way, a man has the stamina to do his thing proudly and effectively without dying, of course. Just eat these foods religiously daily and you will forever function like a small boy," he said.

The elders said these foods give a 50-year-old man the prowess of a 20-year-old.

“You only retire from the field if and when you want to. Let people try first and compare with those deadly pills flooding chemist shelves," Shelali said.

Lamu elder Ali Gubo
Lamu elder Ali Gubo
My wife cannot complain because all thanks to octopus soup, I am now a lion in bed
Shamte Mohamed


Musa Abdullahi, 57, who has four wives and 10 children, says the secret why his wives have never left him or cheated in the marriage is his daily intake of octopus soup, famously known in Swahili as Supu ya Pweza.

“Good thing is, all these foods are locally available here. I get my supply of octopus from my fisherman neighbour without fail. I drink both the soup and eat the meat every evening before bed," Abdullahi said.

“It has been my lifestyle for the last 26 years and I can proudly report that my wives are happy and I am not dead like my unfortunate brothers who went for pills."

He says to top off his fitness routine, he jogs twice a day, early morning and in the evening.

He asked fellow men to stop being lazy and always falling for shortcuts with deadly consequences in the long run.

Shamte Mohamed, 30, says he survived a near-death ordeal after using the pill in 2018 when he visited his girlfriend in Mombasa.

“I bought a pack of the pill, took them and waited for my girl to arrive but she didn’t. I waited for about five hours before I passed out. My roommate rushed me to hospital after I passed out and that’s how my life was saved," Mohamed said.

He says once he left the hospital, his uncle introduced him to the traditional aphrodisiacs, which he continues to use religiously to date.

“I have been happily married for over three years now and I am as fit as fiddle. My wife cannot complain because all thanks to octopus soup, I am now a lion in bed. I cannot have any meal without my daily cup of the soup," he says.

Elder Ali Gubo advises young men to take it slow, however, with sexual matters as it is not a life-or-death affair.

“We are telling them to use their brains to do other things other than just sex. There is more to life than what is between legs. I have personally used these aphrodisiacs and have taken it upon myself to teach young men about the same. Don’t die for sex when remedies surround you," Gubo said.

Weighing in on the use of traditional aphrodisiacs to enhance sexual experiences, gynaecologist Geoffrey Opondo said there is no documented research proving such.

Nutritional experts have equally disputed the claims, terming them misleading.

Opondo however said it is always prudent to listen to elders as they have been around long enough even before western medication came into play.

“I can’t guarantee that octopus soup, turtle meat and mushrooms can do all that is being said. There is no harm in listening to elders and trying. However, we want to urge men to go to hospital if they experience any sexual challenges requiring professional help," Opondo said.

Edited by T Jalio