African spirituality is incomplete without impepho, an indigenous African plant that, once dried, is burnt to communicate with one’s ancestors. It is used to cleanse, steam, heal, drink for powerful health benefits, and as an offering when praying.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
Gogo Majola (25) has turned her curiosity on how to use impepho differently – without burning it – into an entrepreneurship avenue and a spirituality learning curve for everyone, but especially for millennials.
In many ways, the younger generation is less informed about African spirituality than their elders are. Younger people are less likely to engage or be interested in spiritual practices, and sometimes refer to these as demonic, witchcraft or nonexistent – until reality hits, when one is called to do the work or experience it through a close member of their circle.
This is a reality served by Majola.
“Like any other millennial, I was ignorant about African spirituality up until I got my calling. Not only was I forced to learn more but I had to align with the requirements of understanding my gift, which involved a lot of plants and herbs, but burning impepho was always the centre of it all. In the process a lot of curiosity built up in me and got me questioning why impepho is always burnt and what if there are other ways to use it,” said Majola.
She said her partner, Mkhulu Romeo, who is also a spiritual healer or sangoma, had a dream clarifying that they could use the impepho without having to burn it.
“So I began one afternoon; I soaked a small bundle of impepho in water for some time, which turned into a yellowish-brownish colour, which I drank – and [it] didn’t taste bad. From then I thought of products that we can manufacture. Soaps and candles were the easiest to start with, as the production costs less. We began making the soaps using impepho and other organic herbs from our home using a scones baking tray,” said Majola.
She said the business had blossomed, employing at least 12 people her age. Majola distributes at least 60 packages of candles and soaps in a good week, and 30 to 35 packages in a less busy one.
Extending what she is already doing with her impepho factory, Majola has taken it upon herself to promote African spiritual literacy through educating the younger generation by means of online platforms under the Sangoma Festival handle on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
For Majola, the African spirituality famously known as amadlozi (ancestors) is personified by a gifted being known as umngoma or isangoma. A sangoma is led by spiritual guides who were once part of this Earth but have since crossed over to the spirit realm.
Majola said often people confused her business with skincare. So “just to clarify, my business is not concerned with skincare, but rather [with] encouraging society to nurture their spiritual connections by using my products which come with the extra benefits”, she explained.
In the long run, Majola wants to expand her impepho factory to teabags, bathing gel and bathing salts. She says she would also love her products to be available in retail stores for easy access to anyone. DM168
For now, anyone interested in the products, the soap costs R100 and the candles R120. Orders are to be placed on the following number: 081 255 1404.
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.