Ghosts of Loliondo: Who is to blame for the Loliondo Tree health scandals in Tanzania between Blind Christians and Media?
The “miracle healer” of Loliondo 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 Loliondo Tree (carissa edulis) purported to cure HIV/Aids, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma and hypertension and any other ailment. Tanzanian Ambilikile Mwasapila aka Babu wa Loliondo, 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 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 TSh5 million (KSh267,000) 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?