Deep in the heart of the Great Karoo of South Africa, at the foot of a mountain without an official name, a Griqua herbalist is teaching a white woman to heal people with herbs. Oom (uncle) Johannes Willemse, already in his nineties, was a little annoyed that it took well-known Afrikaans actress Antoinette Pienaar nearly 40 years to find him - he had been dreaming for decades that she would be the one to help him pass on his knowledge.
When she arrived at Theefontein, the sheep farm owned by her second cousin Jacques Pienaar, in 2001, Antoinette was severely weakened after contracting cerebral malaria in West Africa - but she decided to stay on at the farm to be healed by the Karoo and its herbs.
"Doctors prepared me for an early death because my liver and kidneys had sustained serious damage, but I have experienced firsthand how Karoo herbs strengthened my organs and now I am completely healed. Conventional medicine, in many cases, takes over the function of the affected organ, but herbs strengthen the organ to do the work it is supposed to do by itself. Herbs work on the physical and emotional level inside the body and therefore also relieve symptoms associated with post traumatic stress," says Antoinette.
At Theefontein, Antoinette learnt the art of living off the veld (field), its herbs and how to prepare herb mixtures. She also discovered how the 'old people' (previous generations) lived and the wisdoms that gave them endurance and longevity.
"And so the sun shone warm over my head and the blue sky became a cloak that I wore every day. As the balance of nature enveloped me I eventually also found balance in the landscape of my soul," says Antoinette.
On a small rise near the farmhouse, she and Oom Johannes live in workers' huts without electricity or running water - on their own yard with animals, birds, rest and peace. In Antoinette's little white house, her stories roll out like river stones: the now well-known book Kruidjie roer my (soon to be released in English) was written on an old typewriter under her kitchen window. Just like the book, and Antoinette's Friday afternoon contribution to Amore Bekker's Tjailatyd (home time) on Afrikaans radio station Radiosondergrense (RSG), this website is dedicated to relaying centuries of valuable and useful information, stories and remedies to present and future generations.
Today, any person who can pick up a phone or surf the internet can benefit from the age-old knowledge and healing power of herbs, but the real seeker can visit Antoinette and Oom Johannes on the Karoo farm for healing of body and soul. It's 90km east of Beaufort West in the middle of nowhere, have a look under the Accommodation/Come Visit tab for more information.
Click on the Herb List to see which combinations of Karoo herbs will heal or ease your ailments. The herbs are all available from the farm and are accompanied by a recipe on how to mix and use remedies correctly.
Have a look at the interesting Home Remedies for everyday ailments, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
The Media Room includes previous articles about Antoinette and Oom Johannes, as well as press releases and high resolution photographs for media use.