The bush doctor preserving the ancient wisdom of fynbos
Fynbos can teach us about unity. Carlo Randall is a bush doctor harvesting unique insight from the plants. With a gaze as hardy as the flora itself, there’s an intensity about him that’s difficult to miss. “I specialise in indigenous knowledge systems, carrying on the ancient Khoi and San traditions of healing,” Randall explains. His studies of agriculture offer a novel reflection of the diversity necessary for all living organisms. As our country grows, Randall’s expertise provides lessons vital for South Africans to absorb.
Randall has travelled extensively throughout Southern Africa and lectured at the University of Stellenbosch in Indigenous Medicinal Plants. “My work as a bush doctor began when I decided that our oral knowledge needed to be kept alive and shared with our people,” Randall says. Khoi and San customs are indispensable in their understanding of flora. Passed on exclusively by word of mouth, they interpret the benefits of fynbos for treatment of ailments and as a food source. They also contain information on the cultivation and harvest of local agriculture. “Plants need to be close to each other,” Randall says. “They shouldn’t be monocropped like our communities have become, where we are separated by colour.”
The Cape Floral Kingdom, which contains a significant percentage of Africa’s biodiversity, is invaluable. Through his studies, Randall proves that real wisdom comes from our roots. “If you really want to emulate nature, we need to look at how the different plants live together,” Randall days. By reviving the systems embedded in our soil, South Africans can cultivate indigenous knowledge and a diverse, unified identity.