FRANCISTOWN: Much controversy still surrounds the use of traditional medicine, with most people dismissing it as witchcraft.
The use of traditional 'muti' today, unlike in the past, has been made a secret such that many people would not even admit to using it. Many people are ashamed of using traditional medicine and would rather go for consultations at the coven late at nights or early in the morning so as not to be seen by other people. They will not even talk openly about it for fear of being stigmatised by the society.
Research from the Traditional Health Organisation website indicates that the use of traditional medicine is confused with witchcraft, citing the abuse of the gifts of God has given to cause harm or influence another's life to their own benefit with traditional healers. A true healer could not take part in any action that can harm another person. According to Head Mountain Church preacher, Goitseone Mperi Chidubi, people would rather apply traditional medicine in things like Vaseline, food, and lotions, and face powders and creams which other people would not be suspicious about.
"In the olden days people used traditional medicine freely because it was used in a proper way, and not for illicit activities like killing innocent people, or performing illegal abortions, which we see happening today," said Mperi.
He pointed an accusing finger at the traditional doctors, accusing them of being money driven instead of safe-guarding the people's welfare.
"They are only after cash that it is why they agree to take part in killing the innocent using traditional medicine.
First of all some trees were created by God with medicinal properties; therefore traditional medicine is not the problem but how people use it," said Mperi. Churches discourage their members from using traditional medicine.
Lyson Ndlovu, a traditional doctor and founder of Thodiso Of First Stone in Zion, told The Monitor that people always sneak around, seeking help from traditional doctors because in churches they are told not to use traditional medicines, which were there even before European missionaries like David Livingston came. Ironically, he said, despite what they preach, some pastors believe in witchcarft.
"My job is to heal diseases which I am familiar with like syphilis as well as helping men with their sexuality; for example weak erections," said Ndlovu.Nlovu criticised pastors for double standards and hypocrisy, stating that they always stop people from seeking help from traditional doctors. He revealed that the pastors are the very same people who "disturb us" at night, seeking help. "They tell people to do one thing while they do another," he said.
"Pastors disturb us late at night for consultation, while they deny their congregants that freedom. I heal the flesh not the spirit so why should I have a problem with using traditional medicines? I just think pastors are jealous because they are unable to heal the people," said Ndlovu. Fifty-four year-old self-employed Elvis Masunga elaborated that people are ashamed of using traditional medicine because they believe that traditional medicines are inspired by the devil therefore whoever is seen to consult healers belongs to the devil.
"Many people associate traditional medicine with evil spirits, which is why they are not open about it," he said adding that they fear that some of their neighbours will regard them as evil people. Evangelist Gaulefufa Lebaleba of Bread Of Life International Ministry said that the reason why many people are ashamed of using traditional medicine is because there are some demonic spirits that influence many things. He also emphasised that people should refrain from using traditional medicines because they are unholy. Lebaleba says traditional medicines do not bring fair judgment upon the individual but bondage, oppression and hatred.