When Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) was fatally shot in Los Angeles two Sundays ago, social media was flooded with users, including renowned musicians, actors, and athletes expressing distress over his death.
Even former United States President Barack Obama was moved to write a tribute to the 33-year-old which was read at his funeral service at the Staples Centre on Thursday.
But as condolences poured out across social media, one conspiracy theory about his death also gained momentum.
The theory was simple, Hussle was executed as part of a plot to silence his upcoming documentary about herbalist Dr Sebi who purportedly had evidence of curing AIDS.
Videos of Hussle talking about the documentary which he said would be focused primarily on the 1988 New York Supreme Court trial of Dr Sebi were also posted as evidence to support the theory.
Hussle used Dr Sebi’s products and in an interview on The Breakfast Club radio show explained the reason he wanted to do the documentary.
“I think the story is important. I think it’s a powerful narrative. Imagine this if I said somebody cured AIDS you all will be like ‘yeah right’ and I can show you an example of him going to trial and proving in a court, to a jury that he cured AIDS,” Hussle said then.
“You all will be interested in that and you all will look into the way he did it, so I feel like more so than championing his products or explaining his methodology put some light on that case,” he said then.
According to Google Trends, searches for Dr Sebi spiked following Hussle’s death.
But who is Dr Sebi?
And why does all this matter?
Well, Dr Sebi was a Honduran herbalist whose real name was Alfredo Bowman. He was not a licensed physician.
And his wife Patsy Bowman, 62, was born right here in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am Trini to the bone,” Patsy said during a telephone interview from her home in Grenada. She is popularly known as “Mrs Dr Sebi”.
The couple met in 1981 in St Croix, the largest of the US Virgin Islands. Patsy, who was living in that country at the time, was on her way to a job interview when she met Sebi. The couple sat on the waterfront and talked for hours as Patsy missed the interview.
She said her life changed positively when she met Sebi.
“Even though I was a vegetarian before I met him when I met him it kind of advanced, meaning there were certain things I was still consuming that were not real vegetables so the journey started since then,” she said.
Patsy said people felt she was “insane” for her lifestyle.
“Most folks thought I was insane just because I did not eat dead things and I am talking about 30 years ago. People felt I was insane, they told my mom I was going crazy but I knew it made sense to me,” she said.
Patsy said she remembers approaching this country’s Health Ministry and providing paperwork about her herbal medications some time back.
“I remember going to Trinidad one time with some paperwork to the Ministry of Health and I think they just threw my paperwork in the garbage,” she said.
Patsy said it is a pity that it has taken a tragedy for people to once again focus on Dr Sebi’s work. She has received some 45,000 emails since Hussle’s death.
Was Sebi a threat to medical industry?
Unfortunately, Hussle was not the first person to die while trying to promote Dr Sebi’s work, she said.
“He is not the first one”, Patsy said.
Conspiracy theorists believe that Sebi became a threat to the multi-billion-dollar medical industry that supposedly relies on continued sickness to thrive.
“One of the first people that said they were going to make us famous was Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and she ended up being dead as well,” Patsy said.
In 2002, Lopes of the popular group TLC died in a motor vehicle accident while in Honduras on one of Sebi’s healing retreats.
“The second one was Michael Jackson, he died too and then my husband, and now (Hussle) who was doing the documentary on the court case,” she said.
Jackson died from cardiac arrest in 2009.
Sebi died at the age of 82 while he was battling pneumonia and in police custody after being arrested for money laundering. He died on the way to the hospital.
A 29-year-old man named Eric Holder has since been charged in connection with Hussle’s murder.
“Some people would think that it is kind of funny that everybody who tried to put this out there ended up dying. I think if I was speaking with my husband at the time I would probably be dead too,” Patsy said.
Patsy said she and Sebi were dealing with issues of his infidelity when he died.
“It was just horrible what happened,” Patsy said.
She said while Sebi was the spokesman for the products she was the one in the kitchen actually cooking the herbs.
“He didn’t come into the kitchen and make the herbs. I was always in the background I was the one making the herbs,” she said.
Patsy now has a company called International Healing.
“I was visiting my sister (in Grenada) when I was feeling really down when my husband was making babies with these other girls I came here to cry, but when I came someone saw me at the airport and said they were so sick. I didn’t even have time to cry, I just continued the work,” she said.
Patsy said she stopped cooking herbs for Sebi which resulted in a loss of revenue and claims from him that she had stolen money from him. The website commonly associated with Sebi, Dr Sebi’s Cell Food, is run by his “disciple” Pablo Medina.
Medina was arrested at the same time as Sebi and was released several months after Sebi’s death.
Sebi’s wife before Patsy, Maa Bowman, is currently with a company called Fig Tree Bio Electric.
All the companies claim to have the correct formula for Sebi’s herbs.
“I would have liked all of his family, even his previous wives that he had and their children, it would have been good if everyone came together since I know that these compounds that I was making it are the most advanced one,” Patsy said.
“And I would have liked for us to come together so I could share with them but unfortunately family things, and everyone wants whatever but I am not concerned with that, my concern is to help folks which is what in have been doing over the years.”
Nkechi Phillips runs Patsy’s company in T&T. She is located in Gasparillo.
“My mom was sick (with Candida Albicans) and I guess divine intervention, Mrs Sebi knew a mutual friend of ours and when I told him mommy was sick he told me has a friend who would be able to help,”
“And so said so done, she came into the country to do some business and she really helped mommy,”
Phillips said after seeing how her mother recovered she said she needed to become a part of spreading the word.
Phillips said she successfully cured a person of herpes in February using Pasty’s products.
“They are people who laugh at me but I don’t force it on people. A lot of people whom I have told they now realise what I have been saying,” she said.
Phillips said this was the same struggle that Sebi himself went through.
In 1988, the state of New York sued Sebi for making “unsubstantiated therapeutic claims” after he paid for ads saying “Aids has been cured”.
Sebi provided examples of 77 patients he claimed to have cured and won the case.