Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Loliondo Wonder, er, Manure

 The Loliondo Wonder - The Jury is In 

24 March 2011

I probably shouldn't be posting this because it was my own fault. And now I am about to waste your time too. It was my own fault that I allowed myself to spend 25 minutes watching an NTV video on YouTube. And this stuff is so bad for the brain and such a waste of bandwidth that people should be banned from watching it. I should have known better. Now I have lost some 25 minutes I will never get back.

If it is any consolation, this post will save you your 20 minutes and you can feel free to use me as a cautionary tale. 

Anyways, I was told yesterday that NTV aired a story about people being healed in TZ. I usually watch Citizen so I missed that and I thought that was the end of it. But today, when I was settling on my desk I was asked again whether I watched it and I said No. And I was told guys are getting healed in TZ from some water from a tree and even Helicopters are taking people there to be healed and the drug costs 20/=. I said TZ has low literacy levels and lots of poverty so from the demographic alone, it is no wonder that buggers are getting fleeced by some equally illiterate guy. "You want to tell us that even those people with big cars are illiterate and poor?" I was challenged."Those hundreds of people can’t be wrong."
I said I was dubious about the story but okay, let me check it out so I can comment meaningfully.
So I made a cup of tea and got to YouTube and found two videos titled The Loliondo Wonder with parts I and II each is about ten minutes long.

It is a product of investigative Jounalsim by John Allan Namu of NTV.

The Loliondo Wonder is a story about a faith healer called Ambilikile whose base is a place in Tanzania called Loliondo near the Kenyan Magadi border. He has become famous recently because people believe that he can cure incurable diseases. He is very categorical that he deals only with AIDs, Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy and Asthma. He advises people to go to hospital for other diseases. But when he realizes that can close business from other potential customers, like this barren woman wanting a baby, he says if u take the medicine and pray, you can get a baby/be fertile.

Ambilikile says that one day God revealed to him the medicine in a tree, plus the dosage to dole out and the number of days. He makes a drug from allegedly boiling the roots of a tree called "mgamriaga" or whose scientific name, Allan says, is antaraya intoxicana and which is known to be poisonus. There is no such name as antaraya intoxicana in Botanical dictionaries or encyclopaedias but that is another story for another day.
People are making pilgrimages to Loliondo and paying 25/- for a cup of the brown liquid. 10/= allegedly goes to the Lutheran church. 5/= to Ambilikila himself. 5/= for paying his workers. Of course no accounting records are offered, no receipts Lutheran Church minister to acknowledge or deny. There is a 7-12Km traffic jam of people queuing to see this wondrous healer. Some o those stuck in the jam have children who are not sick but have brought them to prevent future diseases. They believe they will be cured in the name of Jesus.

Ok, who has he cured? There is a guy who is holding a defaced, altered and unclear Hospital card (presumably) who claims he had Glaucoma and got cured. He doesn’t say whether he got drugs from hospital or did not or whether he relied on Ambilikile’s drug alone. Who else? Well, there was once a throat cancer patient. They never confirmed whether he got cured. Okay. What do doctors think? Can he cure diabetes? They bring a Dr. Richard Ole Nkapi. A confused man who preaches about God instead of giving a medical opinion. Alright. What else? Well, dispensaries are closing due to lack of business and there is a guy who says he suffered from diabetes mellitus and his blood sugar level has normalized since he visited the faith healer. They don’t tell us about what other treatment he chose, his activity level, his diet etc so we really can’t nail his reduction of blood sugar to specifics and whether he indeed even had Diabetes in the first place. And there is an old woman suspected of having lung cancer. She believes she can be cured of hereditary diseases. 

Suspected? Yes just suspected. Meaning we don’t even know what she is suffering from. She is probably just old. And oh, there is another story of a neighbour whose kid had epilepsy-like symptoms and got cured and stopped taking drugs. Non-verifiable. No names, no hospitals. No medical records. Convulsions can be caused by all manner of medical conditions, not epilepsy alone. Duh.

A helicopter hovers overhead. Even though it has not landed and we don’t know where it is going, they talk about its occupants being more patients headed there. Okay. What else? The faith healer is guarded by armed forces and transport companies allegedly donate one van out of every ten to ferry people to Loliondo. At the same time, people pay 6K per seat for the trucks.

And Oh, I forgot. The alleged drug does not work outside Loliondo. So you are given and you gulp it down there and then. If you need 7 days of daily intake, you either camp there or make seven trips. What? Yes of course people in nearby townships are opening hotels, selling water to thirsty pilgrims and hotels are making booming business. As we ponder all this, a chronically fatigued guy takes the drink. He is hopeful. As the night falls, some people are settling to sleep on the ground. It is said that some politicians allegedly take their constituents to Loliondo to gain popularity. 

What about other doctors? Dr. Julius Mbuya, a Gynacologist and another Doctor say that some of their patients have been to Loliondo and not cured. Diabetic and HIV patients. And they say the Tanzanian govt knows this and has not intervened. At the end of the story, Allan Namu says he can't decide whether it is gullibility, blind faith or just the need for hope that is driving people to Loliondo. But he knows it is not about being healed. 

So, the upshot of it is that we have claims of healing from some faith healer in TZ and buggers are trudging there in carloads like that is the new Mecca for miracles. And tour operators don’t hesitate to publicize the story and make it sound real so that they get more pilgrims and make roaring business. And I am so mad that I have wasted time on this utterly inane story. 

What is plastered all over that wasteland are images of faith, not cure. His story sells to the gullible and mostly Christian patients because it has a foundation in actual Christian belief. Jesus is said to have healed miraculously and Moses picked a snake and it became a staff. People will always want to believe in the mystical because it makes life so much more interesting. But, sadly, it is all humbug. 

30,000 people cannot be wrong as my friend asks? Well, Galileo Galilei said the world was not flat and the millions of people who disagreed with him, excommunicated him from the Church. Appeal to numbers is a logical fallacy. Only facts matter. And the fact is that diabetes is an insulin/hormonal problem and epilepsy is a neurological problem and AIDS is caused by a virus and cancer is caused by cells that are screwed up. And there is no chance in hell that you can find one drug that can cure all these diseases at the same time. That would be like finding a snake that is human, a virus, a web browser and a tree at the same time. That is the degree of breathtaking inanity that this manure of a story is. Pure unadulterated, Grade A, Prime crap.
This ignorant TZ old man is neither the first nor the last faith healer. They are all frauds. You don’t even need to examine his methods, take his fingerprints or his mental health. History is littered with them from Africa to Asia to Europe to the Americas. And it is because faith healers don’t deliver and have never delivered that we rely on Western Medicine. Those who don’t understand how nature works, how disease is cured and who don’t understand human nature and the desire to believe in miracles are likely to lend credence to the claims made by the pilgrims heading to Loliondo.

Darrel Bristow-Bovey said in his book I moved Your Cheese that "The world is awash with guff, with humbug and bushwash and just plain dumbness, and it is a full-time job to wade through it all without becoming so tired that you just want to lie down and let it roll over you and become one with the dumbness." And that story is plain dumbness walking on two feet and moving in plain sight. And I had the misfortune of being embraced by it for 25 minutes.

The Loliondo scene is a throwback to the dark ages when mankind believed only magic could address problems that they had no immediate answer for. And it is a shame it is happening in 2011 when mankind has made so much progress. Poor Africa.

Next time I wont waste time over such manure.


Anonymous said...

Better u.

Anonymous said...

Guys it is too early to claim stuff works or not. What if the thing turns to be a real cure and what if it doesn't? Proponents of either outcome will be left agape.

I there4 suggest we watch the space as events unfold.

Jacob Aliet said...

Like I said, this is neither the first faith healer nor the last one. History shows us that they all end up exposed as frauds.
Whys should we believe this one will turn out differently?