Really in tune with nature
GRACE Masuku comes across as a no-nonsense woman with simple tastes. What you see is truly what you get.
The 81-year-old, who knows everything about plants and the environment, was born and raised in Mogwase, North West.
Masuku says she was raised to understand and appreciate indigenous plants and the environment.
The former high school principal is known as a traditional conservationist. She says she has spent her entire life teaching and preserving African culture.
"For the best part of my life I've been trying to be an old Steve Biko and told people, 'let's go back to our roots'," she says.
Masuku was nominated in the organic intellectual category at the National Heritage Awards that were held on Friday.
She turned her former school into a museum. She calls it Mphebatho Cultural Museum and it houses traditional artifacts of the Bakgatla ba Kgafela people.
"The museum is filled with donations from members of the community," Masuku says.
She says the museum hosts competitions in pottery, traditional dances, weaving and other cultural events for children in the community.
"I go to high schools and talk to children about their bodies and other important things," she says.
Instilling African cultural knowledge and discipline is very important to Masuku.
"This is how we raise our boys and girls," Masuku says.
Masuku taught her children and grandchildren to be in touch with the environment.
After studying botany and biology in Pretoria, Masuku returned home to her pride and joy and started projects to sow her knowledge back into her community.
Some of the projects are Letswana and Podi-Boswa, which Masuku describes as an indigenous goat-rearing project.
So great is her knowledge of the environment that the Presidency honoured Masuku with the Order of the Boabab in bronze for her outstanding contribution to environmental conservation.
Masuku believes her traditional education and upbringing, coupled with her formal education, placed her in the perfect position to share her knowledge.
"There are so many teaching opportunities in life," Masuku says.
She says having the knowledge of nature, the environment and how this affects people's health, has helped her in many ways.
"I use plants to keep healthy. I'm 81 years old and my eyesight is starting to worry me. I know which plants to use to help my eyesight, so I don't have to have surgery," she says.
Masuku says that she and her relatives have been running their own traditional pharmacy for more than 40 years.
The pharmacy, for which Masuku needs funding, is filled with all sorts of medicinal herbs that can cure all sorts of ailments, she says.
"We don't add anything to the herbs nor do we take away anything out of them and that is why people who use them do not suffer from any side or after effects," she explains.
This down-to-earth mother of five has a wealth of knowledge and is certainly a national living treasure. - firstname.lastname@example.org