MUKONO – Some people with various problems run to witch-doctors seeking solution. This is because the witchcraft practitioners are believed to have supernatural powers that can heal all sorts of curses and ailments including the easily treatable ones.
Given the fact that witch-doctors were using traditional medicines or herbs, different people on many occasion associated herbs with witchcraft.
While witch-doctors claim to be performing spiritual healing in their shrines, Brother Father Anatooli Wasswa 96, who was best known as Bro. Anatoli from the congregation of Brothers of St. Charles Lwanga also known as Bannakaloori Brothers of Kiteredde, Kyotera District, committed his life to demystifying witchcraft and the tricks behind its practice.
On January 3, this year, Brother Father Anatoli Wasswa passed on at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala aged 96, after he had been admitted for four days after suffering from heart related complications. He left behind a museum where tricks performed in shrines are exhibited.
St. Luke’s Uganda Herbal Clinic is headquartered off Mutukula road at Buyambi stage in Kyotera district, behind the main shops, where it is surrounded by an artificial forest that provides herbs lying on two acres of land. Inside this clinic is a cultural museum was fetishes are kept for visitors to see how people are conned.
At a tender age, young Anatoli repeatedly suffered heart attacks caused by low blood pressure which was cured using herbal medicine which was prepared for him by Bro. Joseph Balikuddembe.
The recovery from heart attacks made him pick interest of preaching well about the use of herbal medicine. He was joined by Sister Rosalina at Bwanda who had thorough knowledge of using herbs and later by Father Pereperine Perinate, a White Father who came from France and left with him guidelines and formulas for preparing herbs for curing different sicknesses.
Brother Anatoli was consequently commissioned during the 5th Synod of Masaka Diocese, to head the team to heal God’s people using herbs. He started St. Luke Uganda Clinic which also gave birth more two branches, at Kibuye round-about and at Nyamitanga.
In his popular preaching before his death, Bro. Anatoli noted that many people wanted to put our culture on the map, so that our ways, language and traditions do not get lost. There was also the issue of promoting herbal medicine since many people had a challenge of accessing western medicine, and when they went for herbal medicine, the educated would call it satanic because of the practices that were tied to it.
In the process of studying and finding out which herb heals prevailing sicknesses of the time, he learnt that traditional healers add conditions to the herbs they dispense.
Witchdoctors were also rampantly conning peoples by citing tragedy conditions yet they are suffering from common sicknesses like malaria, small pox, and measles among others.
Brother John Bosco Asiimwe, who has lived close to Brother Anatoli for over twenty years says he was always been bitter with those who built shrines and call themselves doctors on top of telling lies that ‘horns’ mayembe or mediums can speak yet are just powered by electricity.
asing on the research he made, Bro. Anataoli revealed that it is not spirits that talk in darkness giving solutions to people’s problems, but these were simple tricks by conmen.
“If you think spirits speak in the air, go with maize flour in a shrine and throw it to the corners where voices come from and then light up the area, you just arrest anyone with flour in their face,” Brother Anatoli would repeatedly say.
The brother is remembered for many times putting up millions of shillings, bulls and bicycles to any wizard that could come in an open space and order his spirits to speak in the air but none ever showed up to win it.
In one of his book, ‘Unveiling Witchcraft,’ the different tricks witchdoctors use to steal people’s money are exposed.
Inside the museum, there is well arranged shelves were most of these wizardry fetish are kept, on the top of shelves is Literature indicating how wizards used them to threaten people.
Among the fetishes are needles, moon curved knives locally known as “muzaanatatuma”, smoking pipes of so many heads, traditional bowls (ebibya), dried cowrie shells (amasonko) and small baskets designed in a unique way. Besides the shelves there are pots of more than one head described as ritual pot (ensumbi) drums, hunting nets and a dried goat.
In the middle of the museum there is a secluded room were portraits of prominent religious, cultural and political leaders are kept.
There is also another room reserved to exhibit the real trick witchdoctors use to form voices in darkness. Inside this room, there is a small electric small motor placed in a wooden loose shelf with a long wire connecting to the switch were it is started to produce threatening sound. In another shelf is a long cow horn with a small speaker inserted in it connecting to a microphone that humans use to speak in distorted voices to make people think it is spirits.
Outside the herbal clinic is the manmade forest in which Cathy Nakayita, the St. Luke Uganda herbal clinic secretary and a museum tour guide says every tree is medicinal.
Bro Anatoli was awarded a medal by President Museveni for his efforts of preserving and preaching about the use of herbal medicines.
“At the moment we have people like brother Anatoli who combine their work with traditional herbs with their services to the church,” Museveni told a legislators’ seminar on the campaign against AIDS in 1991. You can also assist to change the attitudes of some of our people towards traditional medicine.”
About Bro Anatoli
He was born in Singo, at a village called Kigo on February 15, 1927. In 1940 went for catechism classes, and started Primary One the next year. In 1948 he became a Brother. In 1950 he went to Busubizi TTC in Mityana, to study teaching though he also became an accountant the Congregation of Bannakaloli Brothers for 12 years.
He was ordained a priest at Katigondo in 1978 becoming a Brother Father. Bro Anatoli has written a number of books including: “Unveiling witchcraft” and Geography textbooks for lower primary.
Bro. Anatoli will be buried on January 9 at Kiteredde at Kyotera district.