On Wednesday August 26 more than 500 traditional healers from all corners of the city gathered at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein to celebrate African traditional medicine.
The reception hall was transformed into a “red sea” as traditional healers in their red-coloured traditional attire converged for the celebrations. The smell of impepha (African incense) permeated the air. Occasionally, the beat of the African drum could be heard as the traditional healers engaged in song and dance in praise of the ancestors. Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau could not attend the celebrations because of a commitment in Parliament. He sent a message of support instead.
His wife, Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, spent most of the day with the traditional healers. In her speech, Twala-Tau stressed that traditional healers should not allow anyone to undermine their practice as there was nothing wrong with it.
“You give us spiritual guidance and may your role be held in high esteem as you are a significant fabric of our society,” she said.
Twala-Tau said she grew up in a family of traditional healers and recalled how her grandmother would apply traditional medicine on her whenever she had an eye or ear infection. Twala Tau, who was flanked by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Councillor Nonceba Molwele, said in exile the leadership would always advise comrades to consult African traditional healers whenever they fell ill.
“Keep on doing what you do and we love it,” she said to thunderous applause.
Twala-Tau encouraged them to be business savvy, saying it pained her to see many of their products being sold over the counter at various pharmacies after being patented by others.
“These are things we should not take lightly,” she said, adding that there was still a lot of work to be done, especially following the recently discovered maringa plant, which boasted high immune-boosting properties. She encouraged the traditional healers to work together in finding cures to diseases such as cancer and HIV-AIDS.
“For instance, we already have a traditional healer who can cure nyaope addiction,” she said.
The Chairperson of the Traditional Health Practitioners’ Forum, Baba Chauke, praised the City for recognising traditional healers. He said the forum had enjoyed tremendous support from the City since its formation in 2010. He called on traditional healers to desist from practising witchcraft
“Let’s do good and avoid evil,” he said.
He also urged them to belong to traditional healers’ organisations so their concerns could be adequately addressed.Among those present were Councillor Nonny Mambo, Councillor Tjitjila Mashao and Councillor Patience Molekane.