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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Journey to Loliondo`s magic man

13th March 2011
  As five people perish on their mission to healer`s village
  Prominent leaders testfy
Administering `muragira magical drug` is retired Pastor Ambilikile Mwasapila (Left) (Photo: Asraj Mvungi)

From the few hundred meters, the dusty village of Samunge with dilapidated infrastructure, but home to a magical healer, could easily have been mistaken for Africa’s biggest open market or those crowd-pulling evangelical crusades for the visitor who arrives at this village for the first time.

Behind this crowd there are hundreds of vehicles in a queue, all waiting for passengers who have traveled thousands of kilometers to drink the miracle herbs from a tiny cup.

But, the tiny village was neither Africa’s biggest market nor an evangelical crusade by Reinhard Bonke, Billy Graham or Benny Inn. Inside this village lives a humble man turned ‘a celebrity’ in a blink of an eye, thanks to his alleged magical healing herbs revealed to him by the Almighty God in a dream.

Helicopters are reportedly flying Loliondo airspace frequently in the northern tourist circuit to land at the remote Samunge village, located about 400 km from Arusha city.

Inside the choppers are wealthy or economically well-off and high social achievers from different parts of the world, all just too eager and anxious to personally meet retired Pastor Ambilikile Mwasapila of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, who in turn serves a cup of his medicine that works wonders.

These scenes together confirm how man has become desperate in a world where scientists have failed to discover cure for notorious diseases like the HIV/Aids pandemic, nearly three decades since the disease was first discovered in Africa.

But, at the time of their desperation, emerges a humble man with a bucket full of miracle herbs and dozens of cups he uses to heal all diseases that have threatened to take humans into early graves or even ruin entire villages as doctors’ struggle in hospitals proves futile.

Already ships are on their way to anchor at ports along the east African coastline bringing passengers heading for the village to get the medicine that has hit international headlines, especially at a time when a cure for the globally dreaded AIDS, for which the pastor claims to heal, has yet to be found.

A man, flown all the way from South Africa and taken on a stretcher to the medicine man, instantly sprinted after taking the dose! An arrogant white man who made the mistake of administering the medicine to his dog lost the pet immediately it swallowed the incredible dose meant for humans only!

Today, the magic healing of this man not only threatened the lives of those gathered in the small village of Samunge to get his cure, but also the status of national hospitals like Muhimbili, where relatives have spirited patients from hospital beds and taken them to Loliondo’s magic.

For some three weeks now, thousands of people have been trooping to Samunge for a cupful of a herbal concoction administered by Pastor Masapila, which some of the patients have testified is helpful.

The homestead of the cleric-cum-healer, who attributes his powers to instructions communicated to him by God through a dream, has verily demoted Muhimbili and other modern medical facilities, as multitudes mill around it for the reportedly preventive-curative medicine for critical diseases that include HIV/Aids, cancer, and diabetes.

The number of those seeking cure is swelling, as the belief that the Sh500 worth concoction derived from ‘mugagira’ tree is superior to scientific, industrially manufactured medicine, gathers momentum and is even attracting clients from neighbouring and distant countries.

Curiously, amongst the early, presumed beneficiaries of the ‘mugagira’ dose are political bigwigs, business tycoons, senior public figures and corporate executives who normally seek medical treatment in top-notch hospitals abroad at the expense of tax payers’ money whenever they feel that local hospitals don’t facilitate cure or relief.

Some of them have, albeit off-the-record, testified to being cured or feeling better, while others, including two senior bishops and an MP, have broadcast their visit to what could be characterized as the ‘Semunge Super Hospital’ and openly commented on their health status thereafter.

Majority, however, are ordinary wananchi, some of whom travel in family units that include babies, driven by hopes of being cured if sick, or fortified against diseases if they are initially medically fit.

While majority of traditional healers claim to be given the magical power by their ancestors, to this humbled man, it’s a different tale as he claims to have received revelation from God through a dream.

But as he continues to perform his miracle, there are conflicting opinions between the modern medicine believers and pro-traditional healing.

While in many traditional cultures, illness is thought to be caused by psychological conflicts or disturbed social relationships that create a disequilibrium expressed in the form of physical or mental problems, in contrast, medical science rests on the axiom of Cartesian dualism, or the separation of mind and body, which holds that healing is correcting disease by using appropriate medical and surgical procedures.

However, Masapila’s clients are not bothered by those questioning his healing method, because to them, scientists have been there for hundreds of years, but have failed to provide appropriate cure for some of the deadly diseases like Aids, cancer and many more.

Summing up the magical healing power of the retired pastor, a prominent MP who went to Samunge village to seek healing described the opportunity as ‘golden chance’, which never comes twice.

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