About me and how I came to do this work.
I was born in South Africa, and we lived in a rural area where a number of indigenous people lived close by. I was the first born child and the second born (my stubborn younger brother) was rather a handful for my mother, and so I would have ‘free time’ and visit the local Africans living near us. I have a particularly vivid memory of being 5 years old and hanging out around the fire eating freshly cooked cobra with them – plus some tribal dancing ;)
The family moved to New Zealand when I was seven years old, so that part of life abruptly ended. However in the last few years I have spent considerable time living in Vanuatu. For me this brought back a lot of my childhood memories and the Ni-Van ( people of Vanuatu) called me a ‘black man with white skin”. I went deep into Vanuatu becoming fluent in the common language, and also being adopted and ‘graded’ under their traditional tribal system. For this I have a special garment that I usually wear during the ceremonies and also have a traditional name.
This is where I first experienced the healing power of the traditional plant ceremony. Vanuatu is the home of kava, and here deep in the jungle, following traditions unchanged for thousands of years I experienced deep personal learning and profound growth. Vanuatu kava is quite different to the kava of fiji which many westerners have tried. In Fiji, kava is a little more like alcohol, where people get loud and play music. In Vanuatu, where there are 80 different varieties, I find the kava is more like ‘forced meditation’. The nakamal, the clreaing or straw hut where we drink kava, is a quite and dark place - in my early days I was fined for talking too loudly. Often you will see others deep in thought, and you are taught not to disturb their ‘processing and healing’.
So when friends managed to make the effort to track me down in a tropical jungle in the middle of the south pacific with a volcano rumbling in the background, kava was something I definitely wanted to share. What was interesting was that it often didn’t work at first and over time I learned that three sessions in a row is best. After this I could always guarantee that my visitor would then ‘get’ kava.
When I came back into the west I would freeze the freshly prepared kava juice and put it in my bag and then put in the freezer on arrival. This way I started sharing with my friends in New Zealand my kava experiences, which they would often be rather appreciative off.
The other thing I noticed that has happened in the west is the huge surge in popularity of ayahuasca sessions. People are paying thousands of dollars to travel to south america to drink the brew with local shamans. There appearas to be a mini-revolution happening in the psychologogy world with magic mushrooms, ectsasy (mdma), iboga amoung other psychedelics being used for break through treatments for many mental health ailments such as PTSD, addictions, depression to name a few.
In the last two years I have been in New Zealand and have also followed this trend self continuing my self healing and experimentation both on myself and and also with some friends with the plants that can be found in the local area. Powdered kava is nothing like the real thing. With the ayahuasca style plants that go deeper it has certainly reinforced to me the real personal healing that can happen for people.
Whilst in Vanuatu I did not just drink kava!! I worked a lot with the local people including being right involved in Cyclone Pam. The following news story is just one example so you do not think that all I do is drink intoxicating herbal brews!! Often we need our complete faculties to function.