Africa Wellness Initiative

2021 Trends

Africa has always had its own pace and special uniqueness. We have noticed some typical African trends and asked our wellness experts what they think will be particularly noteworthy for this coming year. Here is what they had to say.


Here we highlight the huge difference between Europe and Africa. In Europe, all the spa staff got furloughed, which meant going back to a usually comfortable family home and getting 80% of your salary paid for by the government. In Africa, it meant going back to the village with no pay and trying to keep alive on the land; this is what it is like for a masseuse in Addis Ababa through lockdown and now partial civil war. Parts of the world have no idea what poverty means and the importance of those jobs that African women get in the spas, feeding whole families often 100 km away. This is not the wellness industry. It is a luxury poor people can’t afford.

TREND 1: Local entrepreneurialism, natural Ingredients and local products

Emmy Stoltz, Head of Spa Distribution, MatsiMela Home Spa, says since COVID, most people want to support small, local businesses, and this has led to a bigger focus on ingredients readily available in Africa, for Africa. “We have always had an extremely abundant offering, and now, more than ever, it makes sense to tap into these. With borders closing and flights limited, the import of products as well as ingredients has become expensive, cumbersome and timely. We have seen a big focus on African “muds” and all their benefits.”

TREND 2: Tapping into our Heritage, rituals and ancient secrets

Africa boasts such a rich, authentic heritage of tradition and culture. So many wonderful stories to be told, authentic African rituals to be shared, and beautiful designs to be shared. Jacoline Wentzel, South African Chapter Chair for SWAA and Spa Design Consultant, expects to see more about African heritage in design, products and ancient rituals coming to the fore.

TREND 3: Community caring, Volunteering – More UBUNTUISM

African people are known for their community-orientated support. SWAA has always promoted UBUNTUISM. SWAA President Elaine Okeke Martin says, “We expect to see more support for communities and a deeper focus on the actual involvement of caring for those who need it. Volunteering and genuine care for others counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety. Helping others continues to boosts our overall psychological wellbeing, and we expect to see more of this.”

TREND 4: Energy Healing and Traditional Healers

Returning to your roots, Nthabiseng Shongwe, Operations & Communications Director for Spiral Aloe Health & Wellness, has seen an increase in the services of herbalists, naturalists (Nyangas), and traditional healers (Sangomas), offering support through their practices to individuals both in Africa and abroad. Many ancient healing rituals are bringing people back to their roots and offering a sense of calm and wellbeing during this pandemic.

TREND 5: Holistic self-care touchless treatments and products for Mental Wellness

Online meditations, sound healing, self-massage for facials and stress release, and branded natural products that offer healing properties to reduce stress are trending all over the world, and Africa will be no exception.

TREND 6: Virtual Everything is the new Engagement

From conference to training to shopping to communication to fitness, virtual will be the new way to connect. Having an online presence is not enough. People want to be part of the virtual story. Online virtual training is the hottest trend for schools. Maje Ayida, fitness expert from Nigeria’s Eden Life Style, confirms this and has noted higher engagements when virtual training fitness programs are presented.

TREND 7: African Plant Extracts for therapeutic and healing Herbs

Medicinal plants are gaining respect. Artemisia afra, Aloe ferox, Sutherlandia frutescens, Kiggelaria Africa and Cannabis have long shown to be healing compounds. With more scientifically validated proof, we expect deeper insights and research to yield plant healing breakthroughs from Africa. Molecular docking processes are screening potential bioactive compounds isolated from medicinal plants in South Africa.  

TREND 8: Secluded, self-care, self-catering, self-drive getaway holidays in Nature already

This segment gained a lot of attention post-Covid. They are sure to become a big part of Africa’s offerings in 2021, as people desperately seek to get away but be safe and experience nature’s healing properties too.