A miracle worker has been plagued by the ill seeking his services. And now 76 year old Reverend Ambilikili Mwasapile is taking a break for a few days. The Tanzanian pastor has been seeing people in large throngs seeking his miraculous cure – some even being taken long distances from their hospital beds by families hoping to cure their ailments. But as the miracle cures pour out and the afflicted keep pouring in, some are questioning if Mwasapile’s cure has any medical effect and if it’s even safe to drink.
Still others swear by the concoction, which was analyzed by the Health Minister, and declared safe for human consumption. But whether it actually has any beneficial effects is still yet to be tested. Mwasapile’s cure spread by word of mouth, and soon there was a crowd outside his modest home numbering several thousand. Unable to secure shelter in the area, the crowds had assembled impromptu lines, often lying in the street without shelter and with the sick mingling with the healthy cure seekers.
Mwasapile has said he will be receiving new arrivals on Monday April 1st, but no sooner. 52 people have died while waiting to see him in lines sometimes 16 miles long, according to a report by the BBC. Mwasapile is one of few witchdoctors allowed to practice his craft despite a ban by Tanzanian officials on all forms of witchdoctoring. He has even been allowed to sell his cure, charging the equivalent to 30 cents per draught.
Until the effect of the potion is known by scientists, many experts will continue to be understandably skeptic of the miracle worker’s concoctions, and already media reports are pointing out the number of deaths before and after drinking it. Whether this is because of their ailments, the potion itself, or staying out in the harsh conditions in the streets is currently unknown. And it could be a condition of all three. Travel is not good for many types of illness, and the authorities are concerned enough about chaos erupting that they have dispatched additional police to the scene.
There have been some success stories as well, with Mwasapile as can be documented by his popularity. Whether his medicine does anything or not, scientists have demonstrated that a powerful placebo effect can have incredible effect on the human body, even going so far as to make certain medication more effective as their popularity rises even without changing the formula at all. So in a way, though it may not be worth it in the end, Mwasapile’s general unavailability and his throngs of believers may actually make his medicine some of the most potent yet. And that’s not even taking into account the possibility that it might be real.