My 'other' job is as a Traditional Medicine Specialist at SABS. My task involves lots of research, an activity that I find surprisingly enjoyable especially as it is not my immediate background. As any researcher will tell you, now and again, you begin to pick up patterns of ideas around a subject and this can either confirm what you know or show you that you actually don't know or even start to shatter the illusions you had about how much you thought knew about something!
Looking at our country, our policies and definitions and ideas which are out there about us as Africans in South Africa, our African culture and the trends globally especially around what are called indigenous cultures, I have to ask, is our culture slowly dying? If it is not, are we allowing it to become irrelevant, replaced by other cultures?
This question extends to the challenges I encounter in the traditional medicine sector right now. There is a push to modernize traditional practices of medicine globally. This modernization though seems to mean transform the traditional practice into a version of modern (western) medicine. Here I'm not even talking African Traditional Medicine as ours is seen as 'folk' medicine. There are many reasons why this is not a great category to be in, but that's for discussion on another day!
So my question here is, do we know who we originally were as a people and what our culture stood for? Do we know it enough to be able to find a new audience (future generations of South Africans) in the modern world, without losing the essence of what our African culture is or was? Or are we doomed to adopt cultural practices that cause some to thrive and to repress others? Is this not where we are already? Philani, MAD-G