Confessions from my first spa treatment

Spar treat: Charles on the massage level.
Spar treat: Charles on the massage level.

As a guest of Namibia Airports Company, Staff Writer, THALEFANG CHARLES was gifted his inaugural massage at the Nomad African Spa in Windhoek, an experience filled with ‘conflicting’ feelings

“Welcome to Nomad African Spa. Please proceed to the changing room and take off all your clothes. Put on the gown and flip-flops in there,” said Mariane Akwenye, the spa owner.

She said it with a slight naughty girl smile on her face. But instead it sent bouts of jitters through me.

This was my very first spa treatment and I was shaking. Scared.


Inside the change room, I thought about opting out.

“I can’t do it,” I kept telling the mirror on the wall.

I could not really understand why I was scared because I had long passed my Jimmy-comes-to-town phase. I knew very well that people were not skinned during spa treatments because I had sent loved ones to such treats before.

Slowly and reluctantly, I nervously undressed. Then I covered my stark nakedness with the soft, hugging and soothing perfumed robe provided.  It temporarily calmed my nerves and put down my defences. When I left the change room, Akwenye was waiting with my masseuse outside.

She was almost my height and build. Dark-skinned with distinctive traditional African makeup, she introduced herself as Rashida. She had a teasing, flirtatious smile of innocence lost that made me aware of my nakedness underneath the soft textured robe. I nervously smiled back and tightened the gown.

Akwenye handed me to Rashida. “Follow her, she will show you your room,” she waved me off, still with that endearing thin smile.

I felt like we were like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit.  Inside the small room in the middle was a massage table (in my mind it was a small bed), perfectly made with towels. The room was dimly lit with scented candles and a soft soothing sax was playing from a small stereo. It was mood music for people wearing nothing but gowns.

Rashida gave me a bright clean white towel and whispered instructions, telling me that she would step outside while I took off the gown, wrapped on the towel and climbed onto the massage table.

She showed me how to lie down flat onto the small ‘bed’ before she dashed out of the room. I followed all the instructions and felt a wave of impatience sweep over me. “Why was she taking so long to return?”

While lying there, facedown on the headrest, I thought of the stuff I had seen in the movies. Ugly thoughts of big, rugged male hands choking me down crossed my mind, killing the mood. I tensed stiff when I heard the door open. The person just quietly walked into the room without saying a word and the anxiety got to me. I asked, “Rashida, Is that you?”

It was her, Rashida my masseuse.

She gently started on my back. Steadily and gently massaging over the towel. Then she pushed down the towel and for the first time it was flesh on flesh, her bare hands smeared with ‘futheni’, a mixture of morula oil and Walvis Bay salts, were moving up and down my bare back. Massaging. She also used some small calabashes to rub and gently jab while applying some mild pressure with her hands.

“How is the pressure?” she kept whispering. However, all I could manage was a moan.

At some point there was discomfort as I felt pain, but she explained that it was due to her breaking of blood clots that prohibit clear blood flow. She reassured me that all the pain would be gone when she was done.

The experience of lying naked, scantily covered by a white towel while a young masseuse caressed me in a dimly lit room, was very foreign to me. I am a straight man and normally this would lead to behaviour inappropriate to describe in a family newspaper.

I, therefore, tried not to think too much and distracted my mind by asking my masseuse mood killing questions while she was busy on my bare back. Does she always feel comfortable doing her job? Does she ever feel afraid of her clients? She chuckled and said she was happy and enjoying her job. She appeared happy.

Then she whispered again, telling me to flip over so that she could do the front. She took off my towel and raised it up to cover her face to allow me the little privacy during the flip over to lie on my back. She wrapped the towel back on me and took another small towel to cover my eyes. But lying on my back was awkward and I felt very vulnerable. I was just too exposed and Rashida could reach anywhere she wished to. (Un)fortunately she was professional and knew where not to touch.

When my masseuse completed the treatment I felt like a load had been lifted from my body. There was a gush of rejuvenation in me. I was happy that I had survived my first spa treatment.

Surprisingly, once outside, I felt free in the gown. Rainclouds were gathering over the Windhoek skyline and the smell of rain felt like the continuation of the treatment.

Still in my robe I sat down for a chat with spa owner, Akwenye. She is Namibia’s first black female commercial pilot who quit flying and moved to the wellness business.

Akwenye explained that she was driven to empower young, disadvantaged Namibian girls by training them to become professional masseuses. Rashida, she revealed, was well trained and could handle even the most difficult clients such as those asking for illegal services colloquially known as ‘Happy Endings’.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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