Herbalist is preserving our rich cultural heritage

East London-based traditional medical practitioner Dr Mark Stewart was celebrating a lot more than just Heritage Day last Thursday.

HEALING HANDS: Dr Mark Stewart with mentor Dr Elaine Talmakies
Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

The day also saw residents crowd into his business premise in Pefferville to celebrate his official induction as a member in the Gauteng Traditional and Faith Medical Practitioners following five years of training.

Stewart, co-owner of EM Herbalist & Consulting, was trained by co-owner and mentor Dr Elaine Talmakies.

“She wasn’t only my mentor, she was a mother to me,” Stewart said.

He said the decision to hold the celebration on Heritage Day was a deliberate one.

“I chose this day to be ‘weaned’, so to speak, because it is Heritage Day. It’s important in these communities that are ever changing to uphold our heritage and to carry it over to the next generation,” said Stewart.

For Stewart, one of the biggest challenges he’s faced in his line of work is that people often get confused about what his profession involves.

“They don’t know the difference between a traditional leader, a traditional healer and a traditional medical practitioner,” he said.

He said that people often hear the word “traditional” and instantly think of sangomas, even though the two professions are very different.

“Herbalists are actually called traditional medical practitioners. We work with plants and we heal people with plants,” Steward said.

Talmakies congratulated her student and said he had shown great diligence in his studies.

“You know a lot about herbs. Whenever I show you something, you know what it is,” she said.

“I want to give [the knowledge] to you so you can go out with it and heal the people.”

For more information, contact Stewart at 082-256-7851 or Talmakies on 072-490-4818.

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