Native Brazilians set up a 'natural pharmacy' in Downtown São Paulo

Member of the Kadiwéu tribe wear headdresses and advertise their wares using microphones and loudspeakers

Mariana Zylberkan

"This is São Paulo's bellybutton," says Macsuara Kadiwéu, 60, in front of Father José de Anchieta, in Praça da Sé (See Square). The Jesuit Anchieta is celebrated as one of São Paulo's founders.

Despite the monument's prominence on the priest, Kadiwéu stops to read the story of Tibiriçá, portrayed in bronze in the back and explains the place's symbolism. "This also is part of our history,"

This is why he chose to set up his stand of medicinal herbs, near Tibiriçá's remains, buried in the Sé Cathedral crypt.

Member of the Kadiwéu tribe, located in the border of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul with Paraguay, Macsuara says he's been traveling all over Brazil for the last 40 years to spread the word about indigenous medicine, which uses plants as medicine.

Native Brazilians and their stand selling medicinal plants in the heart of São Paulo's financial district - Folhapress

In his current stay in São Paulo, he is working with nephews Kainá, 35, and Jander Terena, 43. Coming December, they will leave the square to travel around in São Paulo state.

With a microphone clipped to his t-shirt collar and a headdress, the brothers take turns to explain the origins of diseases and what herbs to take to treat them. The explanations can be heard through the loudspeakers and attract a crowd of passersby. 

Bags full of dried leaves used in the concoctions prepared in site share their space with closed bottles of "restoratives". A tea called "get rid of your belly fat" occupies the center of attention.

Besides the two brothers from the Terena ethnicity, other natives take turns on the microphones nonstop from morning until late afternoon. "It's no help to ask what is it good for and how much it costs, you know? To find out is a woman is good [in bed], you need to sleep with her," one of them teases the audience, while he puts a mixture of herbs in a pestle, which he calls "Indian blender".

According to Macsuara, he and his nephews use their earnings to pay for their lodging in São Paulo and to buy provisions for their village in Mato Grosso do Sul, with its 2,000 inhabitants.
Despite being set up in Praça da Sé, a place with frequent burglaries and robberies, the three say that in a little over a month, they haven't suffered anything of the kind.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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