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Manser Thelua

Ghosts of Loliondo: Who is to blame for Tanzania’s biggest health scandal – Blind Christians or Media?

About 10 years ago, the highly sought after “miracle healer” of Loliondo AKA Babu, reportedly treated more than 6 million people with his ‘Miracle Cure’.

After the deaths of several hiv-positive patients who had abandoned antiretroviral (arv) drugs, the magical healing miracle power of 76-year-old Ambilikile Mwasapile vanished.

In 2011, he pulled hundreds of thousands of people from across east Africa into the Loliondo area by dispensing a herbal concoction made from the Tree (carissa edulis) purported to cure HIV/Aids, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and hypertension and any other ailment.

Tanzanian Ambilikile Mwasapila aka Babu, a retired Lutheran countryside pastor, suddenly became the most visible media personality and healer in East Africa.

He had received dreams in which God provided him with the recipe for a herbal medicine concoction that would heal all maladies. He uses a tree known as mugariga to make a non-flavored drink which he administers to patients reporting various chronic diseases.

Lutheran bishops who had all but abandoned the elderly pastor in his former remote mission field eagerly approved his ministry, while reception in Charismatic churches was mixed.

After initial suspicion, the Tanzanian government strongly backed him, and the national research hospital vaguely endorsed the medicine, which is essentially the same as traditional medicine in several ethnic groups.

At the height of his fame, Mr Masapila was said to have been pocketing a minimum of TSh 5 million (KSh 267,000) every day worked.

But how many of Babu’s patients survived to narrate the Loliondo trip? Was it a genuine cure or one of the biggest health scandals in recent times?

Revisiting Babu’s famous concoction

Nearly ten year ago, millions of people from all over East Africa trooped to the remote village of Samunge in Tanzania in search of what was described as a miracle cure for practically all diseases.

Loliondo township became a house hold name in Kenya and the whole region thanks to the so-called magical cure administered by a retired church minister Ambilikiwe Mwasapile also known simply as Babu.

By the end of 2012, more than 6 million people had visited Samunge village, where Babu still lives today. Was it a genuine cure or one of the biggest health scandals in recent times?

Citizen TV’s Pamela Asigi revisits the bizarre story that took East Africa by storm. She spoke to some of the people who made the visit and lived to tell the horror tales, and those who only have graves to show for the arduous journey that ended in grief.

Pamela Asigi, Citizen TV

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