Kakakuona Junior Kakonge, a herbalist healer from Nyakabanda Nyarugenge, believes in healing the traditional African way.
The road that leads to Kakakuona’s healing house that he refers to as a clinic, is just after Nyakabanda market place.
A few meters from the main road, there’s a poster that directs you to ‘Kakakuona Herbal Healing’. That is where the hill begins.
The hill is steep. I inquire from a small boy named Pascal Mukiza who offers to help me find the place, “Are we there yet?” Pascal looks a bit puzzled at the question. We are not even a half way.
In a house at the top of the hill, the worried and unhappy are seated on long benches. On the floor there are mats, two women are seated there with the same look as those seated on the benches.
A young man notices me.
“Hello sir, can we help you?”
Before I answer, I hear a loud scream from inside another room.
“It’s not so easy to get access of the healer. A lot of people are on schedule to meet him at particular intervals,” reveals Rwigamba who had come to tend to me.
This was clear from the many people assembled in the waiting room. Rwigamba returns a little later and promises me a chance to talk to the healer.
I wait my turn. I am later ushered into the room off the waiting room.
Inside, different liquids in little bottles are spread on the shop like shelves. There are also polythen bags tied with different colour powders.
Kakakuona eagerly looks up at me.
I am struck by his age; he is certainly not the typical aged healer.
“This is our healing house. A clinic that deals with most diseases that disturb human kind,” Kakakuona junior begins.
He says that long ago there used to be no hospitals or manufactured medicines. People used to find cures using herbs.
“We were brave and able people to know how to heal using the African tradition. But when the white men came, everything started to change to what they call modernity.”
Kakakuona reveals that long ago there were ways to know which herb heals what disease.
There were sears whom we accorded a lot of respect due to the knowledge they had.
Our African gods could reveal through them, different ways through which a person with a certain disease could be healed.
Some cures to diseases could be known accidentally. For example, people used to die a lot due to snake bites. This was due to the concentration of the poison a snake has.
But one day a woman was bitten by a snake and went in a shock. This caused her to urinate on herself and the urine incidentally flowed to the bitten spot.
No one of course expected the woman to survive. But the woman healed and people wanted to find out why.
It was discovered that urine has a powerful poisonous content that can counter a snake bite. Even today, we treat snake bites with urine.
Kakakuona further went onto explain that diseases such as malaria which has claimed so many human lives, is treated with a herb called umubilizi which the mosquitoes like to suck.
It was discovered that this herb has medicinal content that heal malaria parasites.
“We also heal spirits that the hospital medicine can not heal,” adds Kakakuona.
As time went on, the great fathers found out that herbs that are like human parts, heal those parts.
This knowledge was revealed by the gods responsible for healing like we had gods responsible for rain making, sunshine, and punishment, Kakakuona reveals
I am astonished and ask if I can cure parts of my body using herbs that have the same shape with my body parts.
He however tells me that not all herbs that are like human body parts heal those parts. There are those that can kill.
Kakakuona says leaves of orange tree have a little heart on their base and have been recommended for their treatment of heart probelms. Being a sedative they are effective for many heart diseases.
The interior of the fruits of a walnut tree resemble human brain and heal problems that are associated with the brain.
It has actually been proved that walnuts contain phosphorus, an important element in the biochemistry of the brain and nervous system.
Kakakuona further says that a female genital problem, such as complications in child birth, is treated with flowers of a plant known as birchwort.
They ease child birth due to their oxytocic substances that stimulate uterine contraction.
Toothache is treated with black henbane which has a fruit that resemble a tooth. It has been proved that this plant contain narcotic properties that help in toothaches.
As Kakakuona explains he points to different books showing pictures of different plants.
Kakakuona tells me that while he can heal different kinds of diseases, there are those diseases that have remained a question to him, such as AIDS, cancer and diabetes. There is only treatment to treat the symptoms.
Are their medicine proved, can’t they give an overdose, or their healing does not have such measures? Such questions were bothering me.
But before I even asked, Kakakuona knowing what was on my mind and gave me answers.
“We give our medicine in dosage according to the age. But it is not very necessary as our medicine has no side effects.
We have our own research centres that develop the dosage to be given to patients at different levels of sickness. We give descriptions to the sick of how to use certain medicine.”
Kakakuona explains that he charges a fee to his patients depending on their condition. While he did not disclose the amount, he insisted that the fee was affordable.
For Eldephons Nzitonda, a herbalist who works in Nyakabanda, God is behind the healing.
“We heal and with the help of the Bible. Our healing is purely from natural herbs,” he begins.
“Jesus tells his disciples to go and teach people, raise the dead, heal leprosy, cast spirits and all other sicknesses. Remember you are given free so give free. Therefore, from here we also get the power to heal since we are also believers and should follow the disciple’s teachings.”
I am surprised at the scriptures he uses, as I do not expect people who heal with herbs to quote the Bible which brought to us by the white man.
“We do not see anywhere in the Bible where Jesus uses chemicals. This is an indication that we also are supposed to use nature to heal,” reveals Nzitonda, who does not charge for his services.
I look around and people have increased in numbers. I ask myself if all the people believe they will be healed. But they did. Why would they have come if they didn’t?
Nzitonda explains that Ellen G White is their soul teacher. She wrote a lot of books that herbalists use.
“In her writing is where we get the capacity to heal. There is a lot of prophecy in her messages.”
“This book you see titled ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ by Ellen G White, guides us to heal. A lot of herbs are explained and how they are applied to heal certain sicknesses. Diseases such as red hemoglobin in human can be healed by avocado leaves. Simple sickness such as a cough can be healed by honey,” Nzitonda explains.
I decided to find people who claim to have been healed by these herbs.
Tamali Nyirabasabose who has problems with sores in her mouth says that she went to the hospital and was given tablets to use. But the sores persisted.
“This is not my first time here. I was healed from pealing hair in 2001. I come from Gikongoro but I believe I will be okay.” says Tamali.
Igitegetsi Mwanaharusi suffers from skin cancer where the herbs given to her by Nzitonda reduce drastically the problem and she feels she is almost healed.
For Nyirantezimana Helena, “it’s like God lives at this man’s place”.
“I least expected to get healed from diabetes but this man healed me through the power of God. I am here for my friend who has stroke. She can’t move and is very poor. So I believe this man of God will help us.”