An ethnobotany institute in mid-town Bloemfonten: altering perceptions of the implicit through imagination and architecture
Abstract not availableAfrican Ginger, like many medicinal plants, is extinct in the wild. More valuable plants will become extinct if they are not protected through cultivation. However, cultivation is not traditionally how a herbalist would gather their specimens. Herbalist’s resources come from ritualized places of gathering known only to themselves. This journey takes them beyond the realms of what is ‘known’ by the tribe and into areas only they knows. They see these places through a different lens to the rest of society, and has an in-depth knowledge of plants and what each can do. The knowledge of these plants is implicitly rooted in the stories and myth of the specific area. In contemporary society, knowledge is explicit and must be available to all to be embraced. This dictates that the herbalist’s lenses must be shared to transform how society sees ethnobotany. As cities such as Bloemfontein grow, and farms occupy increasing amounts of this landscape, the medicine man has fewer and fewer places to gather his specimens. The realm of the ‘unknown’ wild is, therefore, further and further diminished. The congestion of the city is the ‘new wild’ and is brought into being by man. 60% of South Africans use herbalists as their healthcare provider, and there is 40 times the number of herbalists than trained medical doctors in South Africa. This leads to questioning why the government has not provided similar infrastructure for this kind of healthcare. The University of the Free State (UFS) is rectifying this problem by funding the division of Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology within the Post Graduate School. This is a university research building which incorporates greenhouses and gardens in the Mid-Town of Bloemfontein.