Real travellers are avoiding ‘touristy’ attractions and want real
cultural experiences on the Sani Pass.
We all want to believe that the tribal dance in the village
we travel so far to see is more “real” than the one performed at dinner at the
airport hotel. We want to believe that the bread we had at the small Basotho
village is more “authentic” than the overpriced snack that tourists pay for at
the Waterfront markets.
Today authenticity has become the goal and measure of travel.
“Real” travellers are avoiding expensive, posed tourist attractions, preferring
to wander off the “beaten track”. Many avoid the “touristy” places and are
discerning about wanting to have ‘real’ cultural experiences.
David Sze in his blog on ‘The Myth of Authentic Travel’ says:
“Don’t sell us
stuff”, “Give us the ‘real’ thing, the ‘authentic’ experience.”
This tour is the ‘real’ thing:
‘When an old Man dies,
the library burns to the ground’
The Sani Pass tour is
the gateway to a remote Lesotho village huddled between mountains and rivers. We watch in silence as an elderly traditional
healer lights herbs to accompany her song and dance ritual. Draped in red clothing and bedecked with a
lion headdress she softly moves her aged body in time with the drumbeat. She sways in order to cleanse herself of any
ego and allow the ancestors to use her as a conduit to heal pain and
suffering. Much like many Christian
faiths consult angels and divine energy to connect with their beliefs so the
Basotho people connect with their ancestors to provide a gateway to their divine
beliefs. Local communities come from far and wide to consult on a wide range of
physical ailments to serious problems with their love life.
healers provide an important link between the rural people of Africa and
primary health care. African women, particularly older ones in rural
communities, utilize the traditional healer’s timeless and ancient caregiving
when faced with symptoms of mental and physical illness.
Five years ago it was reported that there was one qualified doctor to
every 16000 people in this country. A qualitative study in Lesotho in
resource-poor settings with heavy burdens of HIV proved that genuine
traditional healers played many roles in HIV care. Base knowledge of the disease in an emotional
context was high.
like other communities, have their own unique traditional knowledge, beliefs
and culture that help them raise their children, unify them as a nation,
protect themselves, their livestock and crops from natural disasters and
diseases and to manage their environment better in a sustainable manner.
However, this valuable knowledge is often hidden, undocumented, usually known
by a few and mostly the elderly in the society. And in most cases, some of
these elderly people die with this valuable treasure. As an old African proverb
states “when the old man dies, the library burns to the ground”, societies are
slowly losing some of the important knowledge as old people die. According to
(Louise, 1998), indigenous knowledge is stored in people’s memories and
activities. It is expressed in stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, dances,
myths, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local languages and
taxonomy, agricultural practices, equipment, materials, plant species and
healers in Lesotho and other African countries have since pre-historic times
played a major role in primary health care, counselling and the rituals
performed for different purposes in the society. Traditional healers in the
past had their houses located very close to the main house of the village
chief. This was to ensure that the healer is always accessible to the chief as
they were not only entrusted in disease healing and driving away witchcraft but
they were also the main advisors to the chief. The knowledge traditional
healers have on forecasting certain events, protecting crops and animals from
hail and thunder storm, healing the sick, and driving away the evil spirit is
often not documented and as a result it is slowly going into extinction. This
valuable knowledge is often not protected by law and known by a few.
the sky burns blue we are still as the healer focuses on the shadowy figure of
the man before her, speaking through the young Basotho village guide she tells
him he is strong and will live a long life.
She inspects a wound on a child’s arm producing a poultice of herbs to
prevent infection. We are told that a
queue straggles in from the distant horizon as her wisdom is a balm to many
times when the day is over, they explain to us, she goes to submerge herself in
an icy river to cleanse the healing from her body.
touring with Major Adventures on the Cultural and Heritage tour via the breath
taking Sani Pass can experience an exclusive visit with this humble traditional
healer before the sun sets on an ancient custom which has acted as the backbone
of 80% of the African people
Acknowledgement to the Paper from the
Analysis of Traditional Healers in Lesotho: Implications on Intellectual
Property Systems. Pitso Masupha, Lefa Thamae, Mofihli Phaqane, ATPS Working
paper 68 and AIDS Civic Society.
Major Adventures Cultural and Heritage
Tour +27 33 701 1628, [email protected],