By Kabelo Selebogo
Traditional medicine has been practiced for many years, and it continues to be crucial to the healthcare system in Africa and across the globe.
The World Health Organization’s Africa Region (WHO Africa) has declared August 31 as African Traditional Medicine Day (ATM). In celebrating the day, traditional healers comprising herbalists, diviners, dingaka and faith-based healers across the province and other parts of the country gathered in Vryburg on August 27 to commemorate ATM. The event was supported by the Department of Arts, culture, sports and recreation (Acsr). The objective of the yearly commemoration is to raise public awareness of traditional medicine and promote the use of such form of healing. Old and young traditional healers exchanged knowledge and best practices for using traditional medicines at the event. This engagement aims to better train and educate herbalists on how to handle herbs in a way that would maximize their effectiveness. WHO estimates that 80% of Africans rely on traditional medicine for their basic health needs. African traditional medicine (ATM) is the only form of healthcare that many people on the continent can access, afford, and obtain. The traditional medicine that were exhibited by various traditional healers include selume, mpesa, indoda emnyama, bangalala, phinda bamshaye, motawana mopatladi, mafora a tlou, matlhaba metsi, zonke izizwe, mpotsheng, mavumbuka, ngwavuma, mubhika, mpera, mphato, mpitika, mahirisaka, matlhaba, fofatsadira, kgaje, setema molo batlantsi, tinyamazane, serokole and just to mention a few.
Ngaka Mahole Masekwa, from Matlosana, brought to the event a collection of traditional medicine and herbs that combat chronic diseases and medical complications such as high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, skin problems, bad spirits and witchcrafts.
President of North West Dingaka Association, Ngaka Anna Rabotapi, said “traditional medicine is the oldest form of traditional health practise and it plays a significant role in the well-being of Africans who seek help from traditional healers. These organic, natural plants, do not contain chemicals that could be harmful to the patient’s health conditions”.
Delivering the keynote address on behalf of Acsr, District Director Mr Gopolang Valtyn said: “As the department that preserves culture and heritage we support our traditional healers and the significant role they play on a daily basis”.

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