Figure 1: An inyanga in her ndumba, a sacred hut used for healing. On the shelves are her mutis (medicine). (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Traditional medicine practice is deep-rooted in African cultures. Approximately 80% of southern Africa’s population relies on medicinal plants for its primary health care needs because modern medicine is either unobtainable or prohibitively expensive.
Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through their material remains obtained through systematic excavation and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains. Archaeologists have long studied diseases in past populations through various evidence such as settlement layout, burials, funerary remains, and human (including hominid) skeletal remains. In this way they gain insight into the ideal environments for a pandemic to get a foothold and the strategies that earlier societies adopted to deal with it.
Pandemics have literally plagued the world for millennia and will continue to do so due to the simple concept of evolution. Contemporary viruses reflect evolution ranging from the RNA world to the DNA-protein world. Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on earth and are present everywhere, from our environment to every living being in it. A virus has the ability to combine with another and form a completely new virus to which we have no defense.
Machemma, also known as Machemma’s Kop, refers to the ruins of an archaeological Iron Age site that is situated on the farm Solvent about 20 kilometres northwest of the Waterpoort railway station, which is due north of the Soutpansberg in Limpopo, and 27 kilometres west of Wyllie’s Poort, an N1 road pass in the Soutpansberg. The settlement on top of the kopje (hill) was the chief’s stronghold, while the ordinary members of the tribe lived in the valleys to the north and south.
On Tuesday, 8 April 2014, the British-based newspaper, The Guardian, published the story of a fisherman who retrieved an old beer bottle from the Baltic Sea off the northern German city of Kiel. Sealed inside the bottle was a postcard with a handwritten message.