Meeting with a Zambian Herbalist

Editor’s Note

When you drink a cup of tea do you consider yourself to be drinking a herb?

Some people are vehemently opposed to the use of herbs, yet they will happily drink a cup of tea. (Tea is “…..prepared by pouring boiling water over the cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant” – Wikipedia). This is a symptom of the confusion that surrounds herbalism. Herbalists have their own personal beliefs, philosophies and religious beliefs which influence their practices. Ignorance and fraudulent practitioners further compound the picture.

Do you believe in herbs? If not, why? Where do you draw the line in your own life?

This topic deserves serious debate. We encourage you to express and share your opinion below.

– Editor.

Dr. John Frera Mwape - Herbalist - (KitweOnline)


For some people, to acquire the much revered title of Dr. It takes seven years of hard earned knowledge to learn how to treat a human being and yet for some people they do not need to belabour all those years to learn how to treat a human being. All they need is some healing power from God. One such a person is “Dr’  Mwape of Kalulushi. This is what he had to say in an interview with Kitwe Online.

Q. What are your full names Sir?

Ans: My full names are Dr. John Frera Mwape, a retired Zambia Airforce officer.

Q. Briefly what is your background?

 Ans: My brief background is that I was born in Kitwe in Wusakile in 1953, and then I went to School in Chingola. From there I went to Chilabombwe. I did my form1 to form 5 at Mukuba Secondary School here in Kitwe up to 1970. During my time in Kitwe I was an amateur boxer, a musician and basically I have done everything in. I joined the Airforce as an officer cadet, I went to Italy to train as a Meteorological officer and Geo-physicist . I Worked in the Airforce in the meteorological department. Later I was sent to United Kingdom to train in Accounts. When I came back I was made accountant and paymaster for Mumbwa Airforce base.

I retired from the Airforce in 1976 for personal reasons. I then joined Minestone as Contracts Account. Before that I worked for ZAM-TAN as branch Accountant.  Zam-Tan was the first company to be liquidated, so from 1989  I stopped working for anybody and started doing my own things. Then I started searching for GOD and I joined Eckankar  where I rose to the position of Head of missionary work here in Zambia. I discovered that I had a gift of healing and prophesy so I joined ZHUO. I’m the executive chair person.

Q. What is ZHUO?

 Ans: ZHOU is Zambia Herbalist United Organization which was formed in 1996. I joined the organization last year.

Q. What are your primary objectives as an organization?

Ans: Our primary objectives are healing people and preaching the word of GOD to the people. Other healing organizations include the good, the bad and the ugly. There are witches, magicians, witchdoctors e.t.c., but ours is about herbs and God’s work.

 Q. Where are the Headquarters for ZHOU?

Ans: The Headquarters for ZHOU are at FINDECO house in Lusaka.

Q. How many members do you have?

Ans: We have 7,000 members throughout the country.

 Q. How does one become an Herbalist, is there any form of training?

Ans: That is a good question. One can become a herbalist by becoming an apprentice of a herbalist or through spiritual gift. Some people are naturally born with the gift of healing.

Q What is the difference between a traditional healer and a herbalist?

 Ans: That is all semantics; it is one and the same thing. People have a wrong perception about  traditional doctors,  healer or herbalist, because of the word “Traditional” which is attached to the title. A trade is a skill which you acquire that has been there for centuries. In short, tradition means that which is practiced from way back.

Q. How have you complimented conventional medical practice?

Ans: Actually it is the other way round. It is the conventional medical practitioners who have complimented the herbalist. Some medicines that are used in conventional practice come from herbs. For instance Aspirin is made from the willow tree. Quinine is made from the cinchona tree which is from Brazil.

There are certain ailments that conventional practitioners cannot heal. Epilepsy, conventional doctors cannot cure that, but the herbalists are able to cure that and many other illnesses. Can the hospital treat demons? They cannot.

494px-Quinine-3D-balls by Ben Mills (Wikipedia)

Q. Do you share information with conventional medical practitioners?

Ans: This is our cry, the Government does not recognize traditional medicine. We want to lobby Government to enact a law that can compel conventional doctors to work with herbalists. We want the Government to come up with a council for herbalists. This is happening in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania etc.This is what we want to happen in this country too.

Q. What have been your major contributions as herbalists in the fight against HIV and AIDS?

Ans: That’s a good question, in as much as it is widely known that there is no cure for HIV and AIDS, We traditional healers do not believe that. If we say that there is no cure then it is as good as saying that there is no God. How can a simple virus confuse us. As herbalists we are doing research and among us we will soon come up with a cure.

Q. How do you intend to achieve that?

Ans: Herbs are there, given by God. There must be a herb somewhere, which God created, that can cure AIDS. The problem is that there are too many politics. People do not want to believe that a cure can come from Africa. Africa has solutions for the world too.

The first heart transplant was done in Africa. Everything comes  from Africa. Africa is given a bad name. It’s like all bad things come from Africa. We are told that even AIDS started from Africa. Our organization is working flat out to address this issue.

Q. You sound optimistic, how soon do you think that a herbal cure for AIDS will be found?

 Ans: I think within five years, we will have a cure, probably less than that.

Personally I had a dream some few years back, and in this dream I was taken to the Himalaya Mountains, and you know those mountains are not easily accessible. There I found a community of black people. There were seven people there and I saw one lady in the dream she was breast feeding and another one was pounding some herbs and she called me and showed me that what she had was a cure for AIDS. That means there is a cure of aids somewhere. So what we need to do is to focus on the research. I am sure the cure is very much in sight soon.

If ever there will be a cure soon. It will be a herb. The dream itself shows that there is a cure somewhere which will soon manifest in the physical world. Because we have seen it in the spiritual world, it will happen soon.

Q. There are so many adverts from traditional healers who claim a cure. What is your comment?

Ans: Well people can claim anything. In business everyone advertises to sell. If those people making their claims can bring forward those that they have healed then there is a cure. If there is proof then they should be believed. So those that are claiming to have found a cure, let them bring forth their proof and their concoction should be tried.

Q. Do you have some of your herbs that have been incorporated in conventional medicine here in Zambia?

Ans: Yes, we have done so, we have Moringa. It is put in capsules now. We are trying to start up botanical gardens in all the Ten provinces of Zambia where they can grow Moringa. We are lobbying the Ministry of Lands to give us land where we can grow some of these plants.

We can learn from the Chinese. They have used herbal medicines for more than 5,000 years.

What we have now as a result are companies such as TIENS, Diapharm and so on, who are making these herbs into tablets and capsules. That is also our vision so that we can approach the Chinese embassy so that they can link us up with these companies. We can also get the machinery from these companies and be able to make pills and capsules locally.

Q. Do you subject your herbs to testing for Side effects and allergies?

Ans: Herbs have no side effects. Side effects are found in conventional medicines. For example ARV’S have got side effects. Herbs are herbs. God created the herbs for us to use. God never made herbs to be harmful to humans. If you went in the bush and picked a plant with poison, you will find that there is another plant which is an antidote to that plant.

Q. What are the challenges for a herbalist in Zambia?

Ans: Challenges for herbalists have been created by the herbalists themselves. There are fake herbalists who have brought this trade into disrepute. The image of herbalists has been dented by such people to the extent that other sections of society like the Pentecostals  do not encourage their members to seek herbal treatment. They associate herbalists with evil, which is not the case. Not all herbalists are wicked. All ZHOU members are God fearing people and true herbalists..

Q.What is your message to the people out there who would like to seek help from your organization?

Those people who would like help from us should know that the witchcraft act which was passed pre-independence did not recognize witchcraft but witchcraft is there. In proper herbal practice there is no Satanism or witchcraft.

There are people out there who have curses marked in them from wicked people or even ancestral curses. In the spiritual realm, curses are implanted in the sun, moon and stars. For those curses to be removed, one needs divine intervention. We can give herbs to them, just pure herbs to deal with that. No blood or anything else will be involved. It will just be simple herbs and prayers.

Q. Are people required to  pay for your services?

Ans: Yes, I think, mind you, every business charges money but we charge nominal fees. We ask for a nominal fee to enable us move about to do our noble work.

Q  What is your message to those wishing to become herbalists?

Ans: For those that want to become herbalists, let them know that they are among the chosen ones. Healing people goes with preaching the word of GOD. Jesus Christ  was a preacher and a healer. Sometimes the gift of healing is handed down through generations in one’s own DNA. Others acquire the power of healing through divine strength.

We intend to start a school for healers. Anyone who wants to work for GOD is welcome.

Thankyou Dr. Mwape for speaking to Kitwe online.

Richard Katebe - KitweOnline


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  6 comments for “Meeting with a Zambian Herbalist

  1. Arone Banda
    July 21, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Am Arone thanks I like it contact me as soon as possible no

  2. Sammy Mwale
    March 20, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    I need help!!! I want to have a child how can you help me doctor? I will deeply happy if you can help me..

  3. Dr Owen Goldring
    September 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I am researching a book about Zambia – I am having huge trouble obtaining local Zambian names for Boophone disticha (mudzepete in Zimbabwe) and Helichrysum spp (impepho in Zulu). Could Dr Mwape or a colleague help? Anyone out there who might be able to help would be properly acknowledged in the finished book. My thanks, as someone who was born in Zambia a long time ago.

  4. May 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I thought I recognised the man in the picture and indeed it was the man I thought he was. He ran an NGO in Kitwe in the late 1990s. It is good to see that he is still soldiering on when most of our compatriots are no more. Good luck Dr John Frera Mwape!

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