The name shepe originates from a brand of dry gin that shares a name last season's title winning English Premier League Club - Chel... which is highly consumed and abused in southwest Nigeria.

Somewhere along the line, it was introduced as a solvent for mostly bitter local herbs – agbo, and the mixture became an addictive delight.

So, in simple English, shepe is different from agbo but shepe has boosted agbo sales because it helps men justify their alcohol appetite.

This should not be peculiar to Lagos since the art of making herbs is not a monopoly of the big cities.

In Lagos, the love for these local herbs mixed with spirit has remained popular for many years. We used to know it as paraga but shepe is more popular.


By their big bowls you will know them. Add to that their plastic bottles filled with funny looking concoctions.

There are also usually some smaller bottles of drinks supposedly spirit – packaged as rum, gin or whisky, with which they now mix the herbs.

Take a trip under Ojuelegba bridge after 8PM on a regular weekday or the Ogudu side of Ojota bus stop and see men flock around these joints to get a daily dose of their favorite drink.

You hear them ordering their preferred mixtures with funny familiar names and you wonder what the attraction to each name is.

These men will tell you they work so hard that they need a constant medicine to keep them going.

But we know that many of them are driven by the perceived potency of some of these herbs in boosting their sexual performance.

If you’re new in the city, before you join the bandwagon to drink shepe, please learn what they are all about and know that they are not all safe for you.

Start by knowing those funny names:

OPA EYIN – The word is directly translated “the pole behind”. It refers to the human backbone and the herb is produced to cure all pains associated with the lower back.

This is the one mostly consumed by commercial drivers whose profession requires sitting for long.

You probably thought only danfo drivers, artisans, agberos, menial workers and majorly illiterates are those who patronize shepe joints but go to Ojota and you will be shocked by the impeccable English coming from their customers.

JEDI – This is made to cure jedi-jedi, which is the Yoruba name for hemorrhoid. They believe it is caused by eating sugary food but medical experts say it is an aftermath of chronic constipation.

The locals obviously do not get some facts right but their customers share testimonies as they save many cases from degenerating into visible pile.

It is meant for both men and women but you will find more men drinking it.

A 20ml dosage of this mixture in the morning and night should be good enough to fix the hemorrhoid but it is mostly abused because of men’s alcohol addiction.

ALE – Many men take this because they want to impress their women. The name ale means “energizer” but don’t get it wrong, that is not for your bones and muscles. They believe it cures weak erection in men.

Sex sells and this is just another proof.

AFATO – They say this will help a man produce enough sperm and thicken the semen he produces – more like saying it can cure low sperm count.

How valid these claims are is a story for another day. In fact, better not argue with them, they will remind you your forefathers survived on herbs before medical science came.

What will shock you when you get to a shepe joint is how only one man will ask for a mixture of all four!

Can only one man possibly be suffering weak erection, low sperm count, hemorrhoid, back pain and also have premature ejaculation? My friend, who did you offend?

These are the mysteries you may never understand about chronic shepe drinkers.

There are many dangers attached to drinking shepe and one is the use of adulterated alcoholic drinks which can best be described as poison.

Can these herbs be consumed without alcohol? Yes, they can! They are equally potent when soaked in water.

So, if you must drink herbs, before you ‘kick your penalty into throw-in’ ask that seller to give you the one soaked in water (olomi) and not that one in alcohol.

Save your kidney today, thank me later.

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