Raison d’Etre has looked into the spa business and the traditional healing traditions in Africa. We found that there is still much to explore and to develop on this continent.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Africa is still a small but emerging spa market and the industry is concentrated in a handful of wealthier countries and upscale tourism destinations (e.g., South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Seychelles). The number of recognized spas is estimated at 389, with $276 million in revenues and 7,273 employees.
Like in the Middle East, the African spa industry is dominated by high-end hotel/resort spas and a small number of destination spas and health resorts catering to wealthy foreign tourists – together, these accounts for over 78% of the region’s spa industry revenues. Besides for the North African countries, the only country with an appreciable local day/club/salon spa market is South Africa.
AFRICAN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE AND TREATMENTS
African traditional medicine
Since the beginning of time, African people have looked for inspiration and healing from Mother Earth. Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure and many other conditions.
Diagnosis is often reached through spiritual means and a treatment is prescribed, usually consisting of an herbal remedy that has not only healing abilities, but symbolic and spiritual significance. Traditional African medicine, with its belief that illness is not derived from chance occurrences, but through spiritual or social imbalance, differs greatly from Western medicine, which is technically and analytically based. In the 21st century, modern pharmaceuticals and medical procedures remain inaccessible to large numbers of African people due to their relatively high cost and concentration of health centers in urban centers. In recent years, African medical practitioners have acknowledged that they have much to learn from traditional medical practice.
Many traditional medicinal practitioners are people without education, who have rather received knowledge of medicinal plants and their effects on the human body from their forebears. They have a deep and personal involvement in the healing process and protect the therapeutic knowledge by keeping it a secret.
African-inspired treatments beautifully combine African rituals, medicinal plants and age-old wisdom with modern-day health and wellness expertise. Herbs and plants such as fynbos, buchu, the marula plant, rooibos and many others are often used. These traditional treatments can be found at various spas throughout the country. Instead of looking to other continents for inspiration, their local spas have done some soul-searching and have come up with a range of unique treats and treatments inspired by the sacred knowledge found in their own backyard. Often on-site on spas are an African traditional healer (medicinal and spiritual) who spreads the wisdom and healing powers of Africa to the Spa guests.