Martha’s massage that ‘raises the dead’ » TheVoiceBW

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“It is unfortunate that traditional African healing practices are frowned upon, sometimes the object of much ridicule, compared to Western methods or modern medicine. Ask yourself this simple question: how did Batswana or Africans live before colonization… When someone has sprained their ankle or fractured a limb, how do you suppose they were cured?

These are the rhetorical questions of Martha Serowe David, 56, a healing massage therapist in the capital’s Bontleng locality. Many of our Batswana compatriots are proficient in traditional healing and indigenous medicine, and the best healers are those whose knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation, this indigenous knowledge which they take care to keep in the family.

Martha has mastered this craft and managed to build up a body of devoted clients.

His gifted hands not only energize but heal, saving both limbs and lives, as well as restoring marriages. Yeah, you read that right: FIX MARRIAGES!

SOOTHING: Seated position BACK MASSAGE

Voice Woman sits down with the talented mother of eight to find out how she became the sought-after masseuse she is today, and what nuggets of wisdom she will share with aspiring traditional massage therapists.

As someone who suffers from chronic back pain and fatigue, yours truly has also decided to put aside his westernized prejudices, after all, my maternal aunt was a traditional midwife and doula. My father’s deceased first cousin, “Maswabi wa ko White City”, was also a well-known specialist in “thobega” (chiropractic care)!

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Born in Gabane but originally Herero from Tsabong, the middle-aged masseuse says she started in 1995 after acquiring enough knowledge to take over from her mother, who also learned from the grandmother of Martha.

“I’ve always wanted to learn. I would say I started at a much younger age when, as a young girl, I would sit close to Mom and watch her treat patients. I was so curious and had to wear her out with my incessant questions: ‘how do you know there are 2 babies in there? … how can you tell the sex of the baby?’ »

In her 27 years of massaging people from all walks of life, Martha – or Mma Emma as she is affectionately known – has helped pregnant women because massage therapy can help the unborn baby move and ensure labor is less excruciating and not prolonged for both mother and child.

“There are really many advantages; pregnant women who want to avoid complications, delays, stitches or caesarean section come to see me. Because they can’t lie on their stomach, I massage them in a seated position – on their backs, shoulders, arms and legs – for better blood circulation, relaxation, relief and well-being. general. Some women may think they are struggling with infertility, but when they come for a few sessions, they manage to conceive. It’s just a popelo (uterus) thing,” she says, adding that she usually focuses on multiple trigger points to massage the uterus into position.

Unlike her mother, who offered other techniques because she helped pregnant women, Martha does not offer birth assistance, as she is a little disgusted.

She says that for nearly a decade before her mother’s death in 2012, health officials asked her mother to suspend her services.

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“In 2001, my mother stopped home births. As you know, it was at the height of the AIDS pandemic and the nurses at Bontleng Clinic advised him against it. However, she had later, despite stern warnings, occasionally helped very desperate clients who trusted her. My mother was brave. There were times when a baby was quiet after delivery and I was afraid it was stillborn. I watched her gently spank the newborn on the side of the buttocks and he cried out in response. I swore I would never deliver babies!

Over the past 27 years, Martha has treated many people, from car accident victims to people living with disabilities or chronic conditions such as strokes, arthritis, migraines or spinal cord injuries. .

“I remember I helped a professor at UB, who had a spinal problem. I would visit him at Princess Marina Hospital to massage him there. Once that was done, other patients from the department were asking me to help them as well. Other high profile clients include the late former president, Masire, and some ambassadors.”

Martha, who also does house calls, says she never advertised her services; every new client she sees comes from referrals.

“There is a stroke victim, a member of the Spiritual Church. He only did 3 sessions and was cured. You must understand that blood vessels are interconnected; so I know which pressure points to target. The principal vessels of the body must be kneaded in order to relax them; tendons and ligaments too. My mum taught me that there is a v-shape between the shoulder blades, which gets tight with stress, so I have to apply pressure but be careful not to put too much pressure on the spine itself. Stress can be the result of life challenges and many people are dealing with adversity right now. This is why the Seventh-day Adventists have also engaged me for their wellness retreats. Other times, patients call me from their hospital beds, which is why I’m always busy: word of mouth!

Some of Martha’s patients include infants who suffer from phogwana, sick children with developmental delay.

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In addition, she helps students at the University of Botswana: “I always advise them to use contraceptives because my massages ‘open up’ the reproductive system. Just go to Facebook and read about me, you will see so many testimonials! she says, and with a small laugh, she continues: “There are also victims of erectile dysfunction; many of them are on the verge of divorce. I ask them to bring their wives with them because, as you know, some men are weak. I want the wives to be present so they can behave well. Some are Bakgatla, who are usually outspoken, so they tell people that my massages “raise the dead”! All they bring is petroleum jelly.

At the end of my massage Martha asked me to stretch and I asked why.

“Massage and exercise go hand in hand because they both promote blood circulation,” she enlightens me, further sharing the importance of using native herbs and plant roots like mosokelatsebeng, sengaparil and even whole cloves which treat muscle cramps like menstrual pain.

“I don’t subscribe to cleansing the womb using invasive mixtures that people advertise these days, just boil whole cloves and drink. Even the plants in your house, I see that you like plants, they are all medicinal, just consult a herbalist.

Although she is not the only member of her family to have this gift, she is the only one currently practicing full time. She says her older brother, unfortunately, only does it to support his habits – drinking.

“O sedila sekale hela, even o hilwe tota.”

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Her sister, a devout Christian and a member of St. John’s Church, like their mother, masses part-time in Gantsi where she works at a recruiting agency while two of her children are currently studying.

She concludes by explaining that although there is an obvious reluctance on the part of officials in the health sector to acknowledge them, the Ministry of Health invites traditional healing massage therapists to workshops through the association. Dingaka.

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