- Published on Monday, 14 November 2011 19:37
- Written by Richard Kazimoto
- Hits: 19979
I WAS shaken to the marrow in my creaky bones the other day when I read press reports to the general effect that a tuberculosis treatment ward somewhere in Loliondo District had closed shop, so to speak! Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the half-a-dozen or so maladies which continue to plague poor heavily-indebted countries like Tanzania as a matter of course.
[For the sake of argument, the others are Malaria; AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome, as propagated by the Human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); Abject Poverty; Rampant Corruption and General Unaccountability. But, that is another story…].
The story here today is about a retired padre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), 76-year old Ambilikile Mwasapila. More popularly known as ‘Babu wa Kikombe,’ Pastor Mwasapila chose to spend his retirement days in what was the little-known, sleepy village of Samunge in Loliondo District, practising his original profession of masonry…
…That was until a little more than a year ago when the man shot to instant fame (and fortune, perhaps?) not only in his country of birth, but also across the globe, as it were. The padre started to live up to his new moniker, ‘Babu wa Kikombe,’ when folk with all manner and style of ailment, bodily and psychic, trekked to Samunge Village.
Coming from as far as Australia, Europe, the Americas and ‘Africa ya Kusini,’ the medical pilgrims-cum-medical tourists were after a cupful of some herbal concoction that had acquired the reputation of curing hitherto incurable ailments such as HIV/Aids, as well as curable but otherwise chronic ones. These latter included a host of cancers and heart conditions, as well as asthma, hepatitis, diabetes… you name it!
That cure was radical in every sense of the term. For starters, it was derived from some wild roots by boiling. It was supposed to work its wonders if, and only if, it was basically dispensed by the padre himself — if only by merely drawing the concoction from a container, pouring it into a cup… Distributing the cupfuls to waiting patients was done by a clutch of assistants who also collected the Tsh500 ‘fee’ per cup that was mandatory.
Oh, I nearly forgot… For the concoction to work, apparently lots of faith in all its forms on the part of the partaker was also essential. And, only a single cupful was needed – symbolising quality very much over and above quantity!
To that end, more than three million 'outpatients' had reportedly 'trekked' to Samunge by road and air for the panacea a year later. Among the hordes were long-time inpatients in local and foreign hospitals who, tired of conventional medication, had impatiently ripped off their inpatient gowns and intravenous/intramuscular drips to head for the surprise medication in Samunge Village!
Patients who were too sick to waddle out of wards on their own were carted out of the place by anxious relatives and/or friends. This is readily understandable, considering that, after protracted ‘care’ of their charges at hospitals, the caretakers were on the edge of losing hope for the recovery (at all or soon enough) of their folk from their various ailments.
Seemingly by some magic or other, 'Samunge' and 'Kikombe cha Babu wa Loliondo' had somewhat suddenly become a powerful force beckoning even those who were on the verge of joining the Majority on the other side of the Great Mortal Divide!
But, never mind that! What's of immediate interest here's that, after weeks and months of being in the limelight and the cynosure of global proportions, Samunge and Babu wa Kikombe seem to have been wiped off centre stage in a flash. Was the miracle, after all, not much more than the proverbial flash in the pan? Was it? I ask you!
Does this prove that no man is truly a prophet in his own country? And, is this despite the fact that the Govt. and other relevant authorities had already embarked upon the tasks of squarely putting Samunge/Loliondo on the world map? There was much talk of turning the place into a medical tourist Mecca… Of new/improved infrastructure… Of… or forget it, now!
Regarding closure of the TB Ward at the Wasso Hospital in the area for lack of patients… [allafrica.com/stories/201109190927.html].
Does this mean that TB has been wiped out of the place? If the former patients had taken the Babu’s cupful, does it mean they all recovered fully and no longer need medical attention? If yes: why hasn’t this added to the former (?) fame of Mwasapila and his Magic Cure?
We very rarely hear/read of the man and his activities these days, contrary to several months ago. Why? I ask you! Cheers!