Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Herbs and wild fruits slowly going extinct

Community Alerts/Olebogeng/Rustenburg/29 July 2019

Growing up I used to tag along with my late dad and mom when they went on mom’s herbs and roots hunt for her traditional medicine. This used to be a fun walk in the bush and I drew lots of lessons about the importance of a healthy environment.

I got so good at knowing herbs and roots that mom would sometimes send me to collect some when she had a client, back then our house was second last from the bush so it was just 5 minutes walk and I’d get what’s needed along with wild fruits and nuts.

All this knowledge mom had and shared with us (sadly undocumented over the years) has been a reason I have been skeptical of western medicine. Well because if I had a headache I knew I just had to inhale the smoke of which herb, colds, and flue I’d have some herbs in the garden and lemon from one of the neighbors, urinary problems boil some leaves, etc.

2008 I left home for university and one the first term holidays I came home and I was looking forward to playing with my dolls (yes I played with them until my second varsity year and had to give them away, was a sad day) and I also missed picking wild fruits while helping mom collect herbs while she tells me don’t dig them up to kill them, dig in a way that they will grow some more.

But 2008 was the year a new mine operation started where we would collect most of the roots and herbs. Everything was scraped up. Tshukaya puo, mathuba difala, sebete, sekaname, puotshetlha, ditantanyana, magajana and wild berries and nuts. At that time I didn’t see it as a problem well because I was studying in persuade to be employed and local mine was one the places I’d hope to get a job. I saw opportunity right in front of my doorstep, boy oh boy I couldn’t wait to complete my studies and walk to work.
Came home in 2010 and started to apply, sending numerous CV’s with no luck. 2011 I started attending community meetings and well to drive the point home, I attended a workshop where few community members were conducting community research and I learned the unjust the newly established mine had already done to the community and I wanted to learn more.

On Saturday the 27th July 2019, I learned that our river is running dry and that the bush has fewer roots and herbs to collect. Mom said we searched for over 4 hours with no luck. Only found this as it survives well in harsh conditions, even added that growing up they would suck the roots for water. She dug some few to replant in her now hardly surviving garden.

I have been observing over the past 5 years and my observation is that most plants struggle to survive and I can only assume it’s due to the heat and the dust. By Oleboegeng