Dr Mkhuluwe Cele

Dr Mkhuluwe Protas Cele fondly known as “Zihlahla Zemithi” was born on 6 November 1935, in Durban. He was an expert traditional healer and famous as an inyanga who has particular and specialised knowledge of paediatric remedies. He has done remarkable work on the conservation of indigenous plants used for medicines. Cele actively encouraged healers to cultivate their own indigenous gardens and plant nurseries for medical ingredients.

His most significant contribution was in his specialized knowledge of the treatment of children using indigenous methods. In this field he is acknowledged as a national figure of authority, which is also reflected in his role on the boards of different professional bodies for Traditional Healers. He actively encouraged other healers to develop the professional standing of their medical practice by working together with university researchers in order to record and document the various ways in which traditional medicines are used.

Mkhuluwe Cele played an important part in making other healers aware of the need to conserve plants used in healing, as they might not always be available in the wild. His greatest concern was the diminishing stocks of traditional medicinal plants used for healing, due to the fact that they are often slow-growing and are being harvested at an unsustainable rate in the wild. He established a number of nurseries for threatened species used for healing.

Cele therefore took on a leadership role in the field of conservation, in order to educate communities of the need to grow their own medicinal plants and take care of the stocks which occur in the wild. Mkhuluwe Cele lived in Umlazi south of Durban and he was actively involved in training of healers as well as academic research on the properties of various traditional remedies. He passed away in March 2018.