Desperation, appeal, and desire to satisfy the spirit of adventure could be used to describe the source of motivation for many to set foot in the once busy village of Loliondo.
Based on the Kenya-Tanzania border at Samunge Village in rural Northern Tanzania, Ambilikile Mwasapile alias ‘Babu’, rose to fame in late 2010 when he claimed to have in his possession a cure.
By 2011, he managed to pull 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.
HE EARNED BIG
Between 2010 and 2012, the retired pastor had already administered his drink to millions
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
Spot check done on Mwasapile aka baby wa LOLIONDO shows he is no longer that frail old man that people knew years later.
His homestead too has undergone a complete transformation; from the mud and wattle single room house that used to be his house to a newly constructed three-bedroom self-contained bungalow.
Parked in the compound is a truck and a four-wheel-drive land cruiser – proof of the retired pastor’s rising status.
Despite the significant reduction in the number of visitors to Loliondo, Babu was Loliondo still brews his secret potion and is building an expanded facility, perhaps with the hope that they will return.