We often hear how beauty is more than skin deep. That’s most definitely the case when it comes to the Mandanga Indigenous skin care range, which rather than being just skin and beauty products are also the distilled essence of ancient botanical knowledge born of Country and culture and caring for the land.
The name Mandanga is based on ‘manda’, a Western Desert word for land, which in the context of Mandanga products means ‘all wellness and goodness comes from land’.
Kerry and Michael Colbung are the founders of Mandanga Enterprises. They both have strong family and cultural ties across the Western Desert region of Australia with a cultural footprint expanding across SA, WA and into the NT. Kerry and Michael are the holder of several ancient recipes that are at the heart of Mandanga’s products.
Kerry’s late mum had extensive knowledge of bush medicines and plants and people used to seek out her and her products. Michael’s grandmother also held knowledge about Indigenous botanicals. So it’s only fitting Mandanga’s unique range of Indigenous skin care products should have its beginnings in conversations Kerry had with her mum about protecting the land and protecting and preserving her mum’s knowledge of Indigenous botanicals for future generations.
‘If we share the knowledge and pass on the distilled essence of that ancient wisdom through our skin care products, we also have to protect it.’
Ethical use of traditional plant knowledge and plant sovereignty is crucial to our ongoing identity and survival of our culture.
‘We’re connecting an ancient culture with a new, modern regime of commercialisation – so we can’t just hand it all over, we have a responsibility to put strong foundational protections in place.’
‘Would-be manufacturers tend to be more interested in finding out the active ingredients in the plants we use than in making the products. What they don’t get is that the plants we use, if you don’t treat them right you don’t get a good product. We protect the environment and make sure that we are not stripping plant stocks on Country.’
‘Our great grandmothers and great grandfathers brought this knowledge into the missions and preserved and kept it secret under extreme regimes of colonisation. We have to prevent the plants and the cultural knowledge from being exploited as well as teach our children and grandchildren to retain their identity, traditional knowledge so when then go on Country they know how to connect, respect it and come back stronger in body and spirit.’
Kerry and Michael will be at the Reconciliation SA Breakfast on the 13th February 2020 and you can experience their massage oils, balms and samples their teas.