Clive in a nutshell (the short version)
Clive Witham LAc MSc OMBAcC is a licensed acupuncturist and health educator in Barcelona, Spain. He has been treating patients for 19 years, 10 of them in a specialised clinic in a small Spanish enclave in North Africa. He has authored four books on East Asian medicine which have been published in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Polish and also regularly edits a tourist guidebook in Japan. He has also published articles for Spirituality and Health and Yoga Magazine.
Clive in detail (the longer version)
Note: This was written when we were still in Melilla
Get yourself a world map.
Find Africa and then zoom in on Morocco.
Follow the Mediterranean coastline with your finger to the right.
And just before the dotted line that marks Algeria, stop.
OK, that’s me.
I’m right there in the top right corner of Morocco.
Yes, the bit on a map where there is nothing much at all.
You may be wondering what on earth I am doing in this part of the world and believe me, I am too but I’d have to pin it on two events that led me back to Africa.
I say back to Africa because I was here before but way further south as a fresh-faced researcher in Uganda in the early 1990s. This was soon after the civil war had ended and also during the Rwandan genocide and the sight of so much suffering propelled me to become more proactive about healing people. What this eventually meant after much soul-searching while living in Thailand and Japan, was to be an acupuncturist.
So with an empty bank account, two sturdy sons and my long-suffering Japanese wife (the model in the Gua sha books), and after years of study, I set myself up in the UK. Things went swimmingly and I had a busy clinic with lots of patients. Any person of sound mind would have stayed there and enjoyed the fruits of success. But no. I had the genius idea of leaving everything for a remote Japanese island.
Yes, this one.
Not any old remote Japanese island, mind you, but a tropical one with primaeval forests, huge insects and poisonous snakes. We had wild monkeys. We had giant turtles. We even had a seven thousand-year-old tree. Sturdy son No.1 and Sturdy son No.2 became Tarzan and Mowgli rolled into one and Long-suffering Japanese wife…well… suffered some more. It was, however, a revelation for us all and transformed our way of thinking. Nature was no longer somewhere you visited at the weekend but an essential part of everyday life where the river gave us water, the sea gave us food and the forest lived inside the house.
With this new perspective on life, it was time to take a fresh look at medicine. Oriental medicine is full of references to nature and its interaction with us but it sometimes takes something dramatic to really understand. So with more study in China, I came to the realisation that there is so much more that Oriental medicine can offer people. And education was the key.
And so it was that instead of heading back to the comforts of civilisation, we all hopped on a plane (actually four) and landed here, in a Spanish enclave, a day’s drive to the Sahara desert. After struggling with both the language and bureaucracy for a while, I became the first acupuncturist in the city and set up an Oriental medicine clinic. This offers choices in health care for the population at large, not just in the enclave itself but in the surrounding area of Morocco.
As for Sturdy son No.1 and Sturdy son No.2, well they are now more like Cervantes and Casanova - and long-suffering Japanese wife? She has discovered Flamenco and so suffers a little less (she's on the front cover of some of my books by the way). So, in a nutshell, that’s the path that led us here to this distant European outpost. It is a journey that means that when I speak of Oriental medicine, I speak from the heart, from raw experience, as well as from clinical practice.
By default, I have been a collector of ideas and techniques from Asia and through experimentation and refinement have been trying to adapt them to the situation here.
But the funny thing is that the situation most of us find ourselves in, no matter where we are in the world, is pretty universal. So what works here, works there too. We may speak different languages, have different skin colours and different cultures but underneath there really are no differences and Oriental medicine has a lot to offer us all.
Some of Clive's books: