More people are turning to natural products because they want more control over their health. They seek complementary and alternative medicine to alleviate common symptoms, improve their quality of life, and protect themselves holistically against illness and disease. However, we live in a world dominated by modern and western ideas, so the challenge is deciding whether to use traditional herbs or modern medicine.
Letoya Makhene Pulumo,
well known as an actress, singer, songwriter, and Director of House of Kgwedi (place of natural healing) shares her insights on traditional and holistic healing.
MUZI: Cultural practices and beliefs are often described as shared perceptions of how people routinely behave in culture and share ideal values. This includes all or a subset of the following characteristics: ethnicity, language, upbringing, religion, and spiritual beliefs — Have you always believed in cultural practices in a world dominated by Christianity and western ideas, and how has your spiritual journey been so far?
LETOYA: Look, until I went into initiation school, I wasn’t as hectic on my cultural practices, but there were cultural practices in our family, we would do thanksgivings. It wasn’t new to me, it’s just as I graduated and became a Sangoma, I then understood it on a much deeper level.
How has my spiritual journey been going? It’s been one of the most beautiful journeys ever and it’s become even more beautiful since I’ve been with my wife because of the amazing support that I get from her and just how passionate she is about my spiritual journey.
MUZI: What does African spirituality mean to you?
LETOYA: African spirituality to me is a celebration of ourselves as Africans. It’s a celebration of who we are, our past, our forefathers, and traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation.
African spirituality is a continuation of ancient traditions that help us to understand who we are and where we come from and it gives us a foundation and it grounds us.
MUZI: You recently founded the House of Kgwedi, a place of natural healing based on an ancient concept that dates back thousands of years. The method of healing is based on traditional African medicines, interwoven with cultural practices, and is therefore regarded as being holistic – involving both the body and the mind – What inspired you to open a place of natural healing, and who is your target market?
LETOYA: My target market is absolutely anyone of all ages, who needs spiritual and traditional healing. You have parents with young babies who western doctors cannot necessarily help but they have come to me and there are certain things that I have been able to do. You’ve got old people, young people, and everyone from all walks of life who need spiritual and traditional intervention.
Believe it or not, before the House of Kgwedi, there was a House of Nubia and this was a shop that I opened a few years ago and the shop operated as a pharmacy for African traditional herbs and medicines, but it also worked as a practice, where I consulted, treated and healed patients.
I closed the House of Nubia and basically when I told my wife about the House of Nubia, she was just so excited about the entire concept that she just said to me, “honey you’ve got to do it again, you are so good at your work”. So, we decided to register the business but as we were looking for a House of Nubia we saw that it was taken, and Nubia is my second name, so then we decided to use my third name Kgwedi, to register the new second coming of my practice.
What inspired me to set up my practice? My business is my spirituality, it is who I am. Doctors go to school and they become doctors. Then, they set up their practices. Generally, as Sangomas, we practice from our homes or wherever we are, but I am very big on my privacy and my private space especially because I’m a high profiled figure, that it just made sense for me to set up an actual practice where people wouldn’t necessarily have access to my home but they still have access to me as a spiritual healer.
This is what inspired this entire concept, but also because I’m broadening my vision and it’s not just African spirituality and practices as we know it, but also because of the beautiful beauty products that I’m creating and designing that are muti-infused. it just makes sense for me to have a practice or a shop, where people would be able to walk in, look around and buy, as opposed to me just selling at my house.
MUZI: What type of services does House Of Kgwedi offer?
LETOYA: House of Kgwedi offers so many services. We offer readings, consultations, and healing to whatever the problem is that I have picked up and whatever the spirits guide me to use for the healing of my patients is the healing that I will give to them. It’s the assistance of a guide; I am a guide to people. Some people are trying to be earthed, some people are trying to go back to their roots at times and they don’t know where to start, so I assist in guidance. There is psychological healing, spiritual healing, and physical healing.
MUZI: We are challenged by the choice of using African traditional herbs or modern medicine – What is the difference between the two?
LETOYA: If you check at the ingredients that are used in a lot of western medicine, you will find either root-based or plant-based or something from the same herbs that we use. So, the medicines that I would use are just raw materials, they are the authentic version without the chemicals added to it that you would find in western medicines.
There shouldn’t be a challenge because sometimes even traditional healers go to western doctors for something. I guess it’s a preference, and in today’s world, a lot of people are going back to more natural, more holistic types of medicines and healing because we are all trying to walk away from the harmful effects of chemicals that come with modern medicine. My healing is not just physical, there is also spiritual and psychological healing.
If you are looking for something that’s just a little deeper than what you would get from sitting across from a doctor, then traditional healing is the way to go. I’m not competing with western methods of healing. I don’t look down on western medicines, it’s a preferred place that you would rather go to.
Honestly, I think there is space for everyone in this world. There’s space for both traditional and modern medicine. We should all respect each other’s gifts, callings, and whatever it is that we have gone to school to study for.
MUZI: Any current projects and plans for House of Kgwedi?
LETOYA: House of Kgwedi is going to expand into a shop, a place where people can just walk in more easily. We have launched a new range called Matla and the Letlhogonolo range. Matla range is the red range that assists in ukukhipha ibhadi, isichitho, and these are your protection medicines when your enemies are just attacking and you need a sense of protection. The Letlhogonolo range eases up things. A lot of people are born with natural luck, and along their journey through life, they kind of lose that luck. So, the Letlhogonolo range restores that luck, good fortune, and all the light that you need in your life. We are going to be launching three more ranges, and a range for the kiddies. Currently, there are bath salts, bubble baths, body lotion, body oil, body butter, and beautiful foot balms. Furthermore, we want to expand, look into facial products as well, but everything is muti-infused. Our products do a little more than what you would just buy when you go in and get a moisturizer from a shop. We will continue ukuthwasisa ‘initiate’ new sangomas, and continue to heal people.
We have just bought land about 2 hours away from Joburg. Eventually, I’d love to see the House of Kgwedi have a spa, just a getaway spa, where people can come for their relaxation, and come for their treatments.
I would like to continue growing the herbs and the muti’s that I’m using to heal my patients, but the big venture is the spa. Consultations will happen there, it’s the beautiful spa that you would get at a getaway retreat. When you go into a steamer, you are not just going into a steamer with water and maybe some essential oils. Your steaming session will be specifically for you depending on what we have picked up in your reading or your consultations.
So, if it is that I need to put you on the steamer, in a beautiful steaming room as opposed to our traditional way of steaming where we are closing ourselves in a blanket. It will be a beautiful space where you can just go in and lie down and get your treatment and your healing through a beautiful relaxed holiday and getaway. The House of Kgwedi is going to grow, be so big, and I look forward to all my international clientele.
House of Kgwedi