Rre Otsile Molefe’s herbal remedies for women’s reproductive health
“My grandfather was born in 1914. He told me that when he was a young boy, a group of aliens – white people dressed in black and white – arrived in Mochudi. He said the purpose of their visit was to baptise the chief and convert him to Christianity; the chief had 2 wives, he couldn’t keep both as Christianity regarded polygamy a sin. Gramps said he was deeply grieved by the dramatic turn of events, especially the effect the change would have on the kgosi’s second home. In his observation, he concluded that this change had brought sadness into the village. He learnt to read and write. He was there when the Bible was first imposed on his people – Bakgatla. However, while he appreciated certain biblical teachings for their similarity to sacred indigenous beliefs and practices, he reckoned that did not mean one had to abandon one’s belief system, one’s very identity. He was a traditional doctor,” explains Dr Otsile Molefe, the 41-year-old traditional doctor and herbalist whose indigenous medicinal and spiritual therapies have gained him a huge following locally and across the border in South Africa.
Dozens of amazing testimonials shared by women about the medicine man’s herbs piqued Voice Woman’s curiosity.
Thus yours truly hastened to arrange for an interview, which he gladly agreed to, promptly.
I arrive at his very beautiful residence, located in the leafy suburb of Broadhurst and resolve to rid myself of stereotypes, PRONTO!
For one thing, I’d expected to meet an eccentric, unkempt old man in a stinky, dingy hideout and clad in animal hide. Boy, was I wrong!
After we exchange pleasantries, I’m quick to declare my faith as a Christian, but also explicitly state that I’m a curious and proud African who is eager for indigenous knowledge.
He reminds me that indeed he is an old man… “How?” I ask.
“When you tell me about your personal struggles with Christianity as an African – the conflict within – I remember my grandfather, who died at the ripe old age of 99; he lived through the negative effects of colonialism. His father before him, who was also a traditional doctor, imparted this knowledge I possess today, hence I consider myself an old man. I acquired a depth of knowledge and information from centuries ago. There’s no better time than the present for it to be revisited. We, Africans, are brained washed. Example; women are facing a new challenge, fibroids (noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years). Ask your mum; she’ll tell you she’s clueless about fibroids. Older women, our mothers’ generation, do not know fibroids! Why? What causes them?” he asks rhetorically, as I recall my own mother once did express the same 9 years back.
Renowned for his forthright nature as well as his integrity, the Mochudi native has helped countless women (and men) battling a plethora of reproductive health issues, fibroids among them.
In 2005, his grandfather, a traditional doctor who originated from Moruleng in South Africa, asked him to take over as a healer.
“I haven’t the faintest clue why my grandfather chose to give me this ‘boswa’ (inheritance). Initially, I turned him down, but he told me I was next in line. I asked him what he meant by boswa. I was a typical Gaborone yuppie doing well for myself. One day, I had a dream, a vision; I was walking around my grandmother’s grave during her funeral. When I went past her head, she opened her eyes and admonished me, ‘Naare o dira eng?’ That stern reproach roused me from my sleep. The next day, I went to see my grandfather and all he said was, ‘But I warned you, your time has come’. Thereafter, I began to lose assets. Things began to go south; nothing I did bore fruit. That’s when I relented. He made it very clear that he was not forcing me to become a traditional doctor, but that he wanted me to know certain things so that when he departed this world, I would be able to know how and why they happen. He never said, ‘let me teach you’, instead, ‘let me show you’. Thus, in 2009, I went to live with him,” he explains.
The following year, Molefe senior enrolled his grandson into that year’s initiation ceremony (go rupa); “A rite of passage I missed in the 80s with Mophato-wa-Matuku because my mother had firmly objected. So, I became part of Matlotlakgosi regiment instead. I have been practising since 2011 although preparation began in 2009, and then he sent me away but instructed me not to help anyone before marrying; because there’s a lot of discipline that comes with marriage. That was the prerequisite; in fact, he never taught anyone unless they were willing to tie the knot first.”
Without wasting time, the goodly gentleman says there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to healing: “People of varied geographical locations suffer diverse afflictions. For example, someone in a coastal region is affected by a unique set of challenges compared with a desert dweller. Their natural life differs. With that knowledge, passed on from generation to generation, I began to ask myself: ‘what exactly are fibroids? Can anybody explain them to you, in layman’s terms?’ I got to compare the older generation – women who bore 7, 8, 9 or more children – with the modern woman who can delay childbearing up to their late 30s or even after 40 years, some even die before experiencing motherhood. When I ask why, the reason is usually that they are not financially ready. The older generation did not care to be financially ready to have children. In the olden days, a female was considered mature and ready for marriage once they started menstruation. A few years later, they’re married and start a family. They were ‘curing’ the womb, which in our generation is proving a problematic issue.”
Basically, what are fibroids? “Allow me to attempt an explanation: by the time a woman reaches the age of 20/21, her womb begins to signal that it is ready to carry a child, in other words – serve its purpose. It communicates: ‘If you’re not going to put something in here, I’m going to put it myself’. Then it starts to develop growths, by the age of 26 or 27, you start to complain about heavy bleeding then consult a gynecologists’. The gynae will assess, perform an ultrasound and diagnose fibroids. It’s a growth, yes, but what caused it? – A lack of activity: you’re not getting pregnant. Because the womb is not carrying out its innate function, it begins to produce for itself; that is why fibroids exist.”
Indeed hospitals are chock-full of patients awaiting hysterectomy, modern medicine’s sole answer, but Dr Molefe’s medicinal herbs can help, thus he urges Batswana to embrace traditional medicine.
“The anti-inflammatory properties in natural medicinal plants deal with any unwanted growth, a cyst in your body. It will ‘eat’ it up. After prescribing my herbs, I’ll ask you to go back to your ‘modern’ doctor for a checkup, you’ll be surprised to discover it has shrunk in size. But, it is not a cure. The growth will resurface, so start bearing children. Once you start conceiving, the baby grows and the fibroids disappear. Unfortunately, there are those who opt for surgery, but the fibroids will grow back, again you return to the hospital, and with all their certified knowledge and expertise, they’ll tell you that there’s not much they can do for you, that ultimately they’ll have to remove the womb. But your problems don’t end there, so removing the womb is not a solution. A lot of women who’ve undergone hysterectomy live with a plethora of health conditions. It’s not an uncommon occurrence in this age. People become dependent on pills for the rest of their lives. They end up immuno-compromised and are rendered weak by modern medicine. That is basically what medical science does: it’s for you to subscribe to something! Why is it traditional doctors aren’t regulated like bomachonisa (loan sharks) for example? Because it doesn’t make economic sense; in capitalism, you aren’t supposed to be cured. You aren’t supposed to be healthy. There has to be different industries that benefit from your poor health,” he assets.
The father-of-three is alive to the fact that the positive feedback women share on Facebook might irk some businesspeople “because it means my herbs affect their businesses,” he quips, adding, “Surprisingly, I get clients/patients who are referred to me by their doctors, Indian medical professionals. A client would say, ‘I think my doctor has reached a dead end, so he’s referred me to you’… The testimonials keep coming in!”
[PS: We continue next week with men’s health issues, bongaka, dipheko and spiritual matters.]