In a previous blog I promised to reveal Swazi Secrets. Here it is.
It starts in February when the Marula tree’s fruit fall to the ground. The women pick up these fruits and brew a homemade beer which they sell and which keeps most of the country in a state of inebriation during the Banganu festival period.
The core of the Marula fruit is a very hard nut and inside hides a kernel rich in oil with wonderful properties. One of these properties is the secret to a smooth wrinkle free skin forever. This is due to the high concentration of anti-oxidants, notably oleic acid and Vitamin E. And to quote the Swazi Secret pamphlet “Marula oil rates very highly in tests on moisturising and rehydrating the skin and in reducing skin redness; Is very effective in healing scar tissue - indeed, African women have traditionally used it during pregnancy to alleviate stretch marks; Is the most stable known natural liquid oil.” To get to that kernel is a mammoth task. A few years ago the Queen Mother initiated a company now called Swazi Indigenous Products which encourages the woman in the rural areas to use their skills to get to the kernel. They bring their containers filled with the kernels to a factory in Mpaka where the oil is pressed from it using the cold press method. The women are paid for their efforts. This oil is sold and exported to companies in Europe where it is used as an ingredient in skin care products. A previous PR for this company who is a friend of mine told me one of the companies that buy the oil is a major player in the skin care field. I do not want to mention the name but if I say Jane Fonda promotes them, that is giving away the name. But please don’t quote me on this as lots may have changed since that information was shared with me.
But back to Mpaka in Swaziland. A factory was set up in Mpaka to cold press the oil form the kernel and they also started making their own range of skin care products called Swazi Secrets. In this range you will find soap, shower gel, shampoo, scrubs, day cream, night cream, a rich oil to help prevent and repair stretch marks and lip balm. These products are already being exported to four continents where they are sold in shops that trade in Fair Trade and Natural Products.
Then the cynic comes out and I start asking the rural women whether they have been using the Marula oil on their skins for generations. Some tell me the pregnant women have been rubbing it on their swelling bellies. They say it is hard work to get to the kernel for the oil and people are lazy to work that hard nowadays. The old people used to rub it on their faces but today the women use petroleum jelly for a wrinkle free face. My beautician cringed when she heard about petroleum jelly.
So my advice is, whether you believe in the properties or not, do support this company anyway. When you are in Swaziland go and visit the factory. They also make a delicious Marula Brittle (like peanut brittle). Support them also by buying their products when you do see them in shops. This is one of a handful of businesses in Swaziland that actually makes a difference in the lives of the really poor people.