Lionel Friedberg
Producer, director, writer, cinematographer

Richard A. Hubach
Santa Ynez, CA

Richard J. Nagy, D.D.S.
Diplomate American Board of Periodontology

Lionel Friedberg
Producer, director, writer, cinematographer

February 18, 2006

Ten years ago Dave Cumes saved my life.

I had developed an idiopathic autoimmune disorder that was rapidly destroying my kidneys. A team of doctors and a regimen of aggressive chemotherapy at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles were accomplishing very little to arrest the condition. Things looked grim. Because Dave was a personal friend of mine I finally confided in him and, in desperation, I asked, "What am I going to do?"

"Come to Africa with me," he suggested. "I'm going back for a few weeks as part of my advanced training before I become ordained as a sangoma. Who knows? Perhaps a cure for you lies there."

As a film maker specializing in anthropological, scientific, natural history, social, historical and cultural issues, I was always curious about the two worlds Dave inhabited, both aimed at bringing healing to his patients. What I admired most about his gradual immersion into the mysterious domain of the sangoma was his remarkable skill at interpreting 'bones,' the fundamental tools of the African shaman, diviner and medicine man. But 'bones' is a misnomer. A sangoma's kit does consist of the bones of certain powerful totem wild animals, but they also comprise other embellishments and objects, specifically devoted to the needs of each shaman. Dave's kit consists of coins, dice and even tiny glass and metal statuettes. What his doctor's black bag is to him as a surgeon, his deer hide bag of bones is to him as a sangoma.

During the course of my travels as a documentarian in Africa I had witnessed bones 'thrown' and interpreted by tribal sangomas many times, but here was a Caucasian physician schooled in Western allopathic medicine practicing skills honed within a system little understood beyond the realm of the African shaman and using methods whose origins were lost in the distant mists of a very ancient time. It was uncanny. He interpreted and understood the bones with the ease and clarity of reading a newspaper. During the years of his sangoma training he had occasionally thrown the bones not only for me but for a bevy of friends and colleagues, all of whom had been amazed by the profound insights the bones revealed about each and every one of them.

Experiencing a bone reading with Dave wasn't like visiting a palm reader in a dingy room at the back of an alley behind your neighborhood Seven-11 store. Dave's sessions were intellectually engaging, stimulating, pragmatic and always helpful, carried out in the calm serenity of the traditional 'ndumba' or healing hut in the back garden of his home in Santa Barbara. He provided insight into past, present and future, with the primary purpose of determining a program of healing on the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and, yes, even psychic levels. Believe me, when Shakespeare gave Hamlet the immortal words, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," the bard knew what he was talking about. There are some paradigms infinitely stranger and stronger than those we know. Dave proved that to me. A couple of weeks in the African bush with him brought me face to face with many sangomas, most of whom could neither read nor write, let alone speak English. Without exception each one identified my ailing internal organs and offered herbal remedies. Three of them were so insightful that, simply by studying the bones, they pronounced that my disorder was not due to the kidneys, but to 'bad blood.' More specifically, to 'something wrong in the blood.' Well, where is the seat of the immune system? The blood.

Under Dave's watchful eye I accepted 'muti' or medicine from them in the form of ground up barks, grasses, berries and leaves. Then, as instructed, I boiled them, drank them and bathed in them. Amulets and talismans were placed under my pillow. Others were strung around my neck. The next time I visited my physicians at Cedars Sinai in California there was absolutely no trace of edema (swelling due to fluid retention, caused by my malfunctioning kidneys), and, more importantly, the presence of the severe protein loss that I had been suffering from for years was completely absent. My doctors were astonished.

"What have you done?" they demanded. "We've never seen such a dramatic turnaround in lab results before."

Now, six years after that trip with Dave, my condition is in complete recession. My local doctors still refuse to believe why. How can they? What Dave Cumes does breaks the mold of everything ingrained into every medical practitioner coming out of Western allopathic medical schools. Dave combines the best of two worlds, but alas few of his colleagues are ready to accept that fact. His methods are still perceived as an anomaly, yet his healing works. I have seen it, time and time again. As he has perfected his skills with bones and divination methods he is now sharpening his capabilities in the use of traditional herbal remedies. This is allowing him to offer a potent combination of drugs and pharmacological agents embracing the products of modern laboratories with an incredible variety of time-tested fresh harvests drawn from nature's bounty. His herbs are gathered not only from Africa, but from the rich hills, folds, fields and crannies of his adopted California.

Needless to say, there is more to all of this than my mere medical case history. I have personally visited Tshisimane. I was captivated by its beauty, its spell and its unique ambience. It is ideally conducive to introspection, healing and rebalancing. It is a quiet oasis of sanity in a world where distraction, urban lifestyle and false promise fuel the flames of illness and dissent. The place is surrounded by loveliness in one of Africa's still-pristine wilderness areas. No one who goes to Tshisimane does not come away transformed, healed, reenergized. On my last visit I saw how much Dave had put into the place, but it was clear how much still remains to be done. I believe his work and his one-of-a-kind center are true beacons to us all. His is a world where dreams, psychic insight, ancient African mystical paths and a solid foundation of proven Western methods seamlessly fuse in a way that can make an indelible difference to individual lives and indeed to the planet as a whole.

I have had the privilege to document and promote his work through video productions and, in time, we plan to produce a detailed overview of the fantastic healing power of plants and indigenous medicines. I urge you to please join me in supporting Dave's efforts.

Cordially yours,
Lionel Friedberg
Multiple international award-winning documentary film producer.
Recipient of two Emmy Awards and the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Westinghouse Award for science programming on television.

Richard A Hubach
Santa Ynez, CA

A few years ago, while traveling with Dave in South Africa, I had a conversation with a surgeon in Johannesburg about the medical treatment of native South Africans. He was very concerned about their dependence on the Sangomas. The problem, as he stated it, is that their dependence can be absolute and many illnesses that can be easily treated by western methods will result in death or have serious long term consequences because western doctors are not trusted and are never consulted.

What Dave is accomplishing at Tshisimane addresses this problem by providing whatever treatment is appropriate for the patient, even for those who would otherwise not consider going to a western physician. He is trusted by the natives because of his credentials as a Sangoma and he is therefore able to prescribe the right treatment for the illness.

I know both aspects of Dave's skills well. He has treated me in his capacity as a Sangoma...thrown the bones when there was a need, and as a urologist Dave has treated my prostate cancer for more than ten years. The fact that I am still alive and able to write this letter attests to his skill as a physician and surgeon.

What Dave is accomplishing at Tshisimane will prevent suffering and save lives, he is deserving of our support.

Richard Hubach PhD

Richard J. Nagy, D.D.S.
Diplomate American Board of Periodontology Practice Limited to Periodontics

The Inward Bound Healing Journey and Tshisimane has had a significant and memorable affect on my life. I was in South Africa October, 2004. I was at a point in my life where I had so many questions regarding who I am and how I fit in this world. I was going through a divorce, unfulfilled with my career and having unclear feelings for people in my life. My experiences in South Africa with David allowed me to let go of who I thought I was and learn more about my deep truths. I renamed myself for the trip, thus no history associated with myself, I experienced "wilderness rapture" through all my encounters with nature whether animal, bird, plant, earth or fellow human being. My time in the Kruger National Park was exciting and very interesting for I was so close to many species of animals and birds in the wild. But the most memorable experiences occurred at Tshisimane. There is an energy there that I felt deep in my heart. My nerve endings felt alive. I had so many visions, experiences and dreams during my African journey. I felt connected to the earth but also to my fellow travelers but mostly to myself. Much came forward for me during my bone ceremonies with David and another Sangoma. I was open minded and open hearted to what was revealed and I had the intention just to be truthful with myself and take the African medicine that was given to me. It is now almost one and a half years later and I can say how happy I am with myself and my life. Personally, I realized my feelings for a very special woman and we are now together. I am happier and more fulfilled with my career. I have opened my eyes to alternative ways of living and being and applying them to the practice of Dentistry. I am excited about the possibilities in my life that I may not even be aware of at this point. In summary, Inward Bound and Tshisimane aided me to discover the truth of myself that is guiding me forward on a path of self love, knowledge, respect and compassion for myself and others.

Richard J. Nagy, DDS

Santa Barbara, CA





©;2016 Dr. David Cumes M.D.