By Ruvesen Naidoo
In this week’s Feature Friday article, we focus on wellness, spotlighting three captivating destinations in and around Makhanda that not only enrich our understanding of our heritage but also provide a soothing escape.
The first chosen place of interest for this week includes the Xhosa Plant Exhibition located at 40 Somerset Street. Dr. Phumlani Viwe Cimi, director at Albany Science Museum, said the exhibition is significant in the continued practice of rituals in the IsiXhosa culture and, ultimately, a celebration of heritage.
Cimi, who was initially employed as a botanist at the museum, said, “We are concerned with the plants that talk to our culture, IsiXhosa, and our heritage. We promote and preserve these plants, especially those that are indigenous, and add value to our livelihoods”. He added that the exhibition focuses on plants found in the Eastern Cape and beyond.
Cimi says that “the reason we have interest in these plants is that customarily, people rely on these plants for various purposes”, including food, craft, medicines, and rituals.
The exhibition focuses on the four main uses of plants by the Xhosa people for cosmetics, ceremonial crafts, magic and charms, and rituals and rites. An example of such is an Umtshayelo, a traditional handmade grass broom made from Umqungua, which is traditional grass. Cimi says that these brooms are sometimes ceremonial gifts that are given during weddings.
Cimi told Grocott’s Mail that the plants exhibited are not only used in Xhosa culture and may have different uses and meanings for various African cultures. Shedding light on the importance of Heritage Month, Cimi said the Erythrina caffra, also known as the ‘Luckybean tree’, is in full bloom in September. IsiXhosa-speaking people have given the month the idiom “Inyanga yomSintsi”, which means “month of the coral tree”. Aside from its promise of renewal and healing, as spring promises, the tree is believed to have medicinal properties. It is also planted next to the graves of royalty in the Xhosa culture and can be used for fishing.
Describing the exhibition, Cimi says it’s “who we are, our lives are incomplete without using these plants”. The Xhosa Plant exhibition is open for viewing five days a week, from 9 am to 4 pm.
The following two places of interest are the Halyards Hotel and Spa and Mansfield Private Reserve, both in Ndlambe. The sites, says Prudence Mini, Marketing and Communication Manager at Makana Tourism, put “a modern spin on wellness where one can disconnect and reconnect to your soul”.
Halyards Hotel and Spa provides tranquil riverside accommodation, boat cruises, and spa treatments while the accommodation at Mansfield Private Reserve, about 11 kilometres outside Port Alfred, is self-catering and also allows day visitors. At the reserve, vegetation and animal life typical of the Eastern Cape bushveld abound, along with indigenous aloe.
Halyards Hotel and Spa and Mansfield Private Reserve are also the official sponsors of the competition announced in last week’s Grocott’s Mail: Sharing accommodation for two nights for two adults in the Eagle’s Nest Cabin at Mansfield Private Reserve, a 1 hour guided (not private) boat cruise at Halyards Hotel, and a 30-minute couples back, neck and shoulder massage at River Spa.
A reminder that the sentence that needs to be completed with words covered in each ‘Feature Friday’ article is:
_____the_____behind_____and its extraordinary_____experiences.
All ideas on the completed sentence can be emailed to email@example.com. The first correct email wins the getaway trip to Halyards Hotel & Spa and Mansfield Private Reserve. The competition closes on 2 October 2023, and winners will be announced on 6 October 2023.