Beauty rituals of course do exist in Africa. We prove it along and forth in our articles. But what about massage? Does a real ‘spa culture” exists in Sub-Saharan Africa? I don’t talk about North Africa (with the world-wide known tradition of Hammam) or about the Indian Ocean (development of spa culture through the development of tourism and hotel industry), let’s talk about Black Africa.
In Africa, ‘to touch’ is more natural than in Western countries : narrow proxemics, maternal skin-to-skin, therapeutic touch, initiation or religious rites… But they don’t consider the touch / the massage as a time for relaxation and introspection.
However, locally, there are very specific and ancient massage techniques and even hot springs with thermal benefits. But due to the oral transmission, due to the lack of ancient written, due to the lack of massage schools, due to the lack of scientific validation of the benefits, and unfortunately due to the negative image of Africa (poverty, diseases, wars…) African techniques have struggled to expand internationally ; making these practices completely anecdotal globally.
The African approach …and trend.
Yet the African approach is really interesting! And Africa has much to offer in the massage industry: healing philosophy, shamanism, technical gesture, original accessories (rungu, calabash…), natural and effective products, music… Some African countries (South Africa, Namibia), along with the development of tourism, offer now traditional African massages. Global Wellness Tourism Congress Research (2014) said Sub-Saharan Africa will see strong 12.6% growth by 2017. Africa is a trend to catch.
In Western countries, during the ‘cocoa-therapy fever’ (around the 2000s), here and there, some spa and cosmetics brands had developed African-inspired treatments.
But what if the global development of these African massages was done by the diaspora? We’ve mentioned on our blog different ones: the Digui Massage
(West Africa), the Congo Massage
(Central Africa) and the Vunkuwa
Massage (South Africa). Here is my favorite one (of course!): the Congo Massage.
Congo Massage : « happy-therapy » and deep energy.
« I wanted to offer my clients an African holistic treatment that powerfully reconnects them to their roots, to who they really are; a treatment that not only relax but detoxifies the whole body and brings a deep energy. I wanted a massage which represents the creativity, the elegance and the « joy despite everything » of the Congolese people.
So, as I am both Belgian and Congolese, I created the Congo Massage ®, a Signature Massage which is nearly a tribal choreography on the body of the client. During the treatment, its heart rate varies depending on the hypnotic drum of the djembe, sometimes frenetic, sometimes calm and deep. A unique experience. » says Julie Lombé.
Congo Massage ® begins with a long session of feet reflexology, with baobab oil, symbolic tree in Africa, ‘palaver tree « under which young people come to listen to the stories of their elders. The feet connect us to the earth, to our roots, to our energy flow.
What follows is a massage of the whole body, manual first, and accessorized in a second time. This massage is inspired by several African massage techniques. First massage Rungu (Kenya) whose characteristic is to use Rungu wooden sticks, young Maasai warriors attributes. Concerning the Congo Massage ®, we use precious ebony and wenge wooden sticks coming from the DRC. The two different sizes allow working on every part of the body. They are used for drainage, vibrations, pressure, percussions and stretching.
Another influence is the Bamikilé massage (Cameroon – United Baham) whose baham handle (or handle Manefaing), made of sacred red earth is used by healers for its cleansing properties. The gesture of ‘African rolled’ is played by pivots pressures of the hand on the muscles to loosen them in depth.
After the treatment, the client feels happy and has a peaceful mind, its body is full of energy and shaped, its skin is regenerated.
All products are organic and/or Fair Trade and grown in Africa.
As mentioned above, for the work on the feet, we use baobab oil (healing and regenerating the drier skins) and add a few drops of essential oil of black pepper (warms and relaxes the muscles, stimulates the digestive glands , activates circulation) for an immediate detox and wellness action.
For the rest of the body, a blend of butter Shea (nourishing and restorative) and cocoa (antioxidant polyphenols, theobromine and caffeine burns fat). The client adds a choice of vegetable extracts of coffee, cocoa or pineapple to reinforce the sliming properties… and because it smells delicious!
At the end of the treatment, to complete the journey of the senses, tea or African coffee with chocolate or, depending on the season, juice and fresh fruit are served.
>>> You are a therapist and you want to learn the Congo Massage ©: register here!
(c) Picture: Madikwe-Safari-Lodge-Madikwe-South-Africa