Mpisi Melusi Ndlovu:- a passionate African and distinguished herbal doctor
Mpisi Melusi Ndlovu lives 14km from Victoria Falls. The spray and thunder of the Falls can be seen from his fields. Mr Mpisi, as he is affectionately known, is an inyanga, one of Zimbabwe’s most distinguished herbal doctors. He has also represented Southern Africa at global conferences on conservation and tourism. He has met the Queen, twice, spoken in the House of Lords and the Commons. He laughingly describes himself as a ‘lobbyist’, working on global campaigns with Oxfam and other NGOs to stop companies patenting traditional African herbal medicines. PhD students come to learn from him, especially of his cures for snake bites; and the Red Cross flew him to Harare to fight the cholera outbreak of 2009.
Although he worked in the US on cancer cures, he turned down a major pharmaceutical company that wanted him to move to America. But Mr Mpisi never went to school, he says his teacher is ‘the University of Life’ and the traditions of his village. Ultimately Mr Mpisi’s passion is his homestead and his culture, and it was about these that he taught me so much.
Mpisi is head of his family homestead in the Monde district, and he works closely with Russell Gammon. Mpisi enjoys welcoming visitors, showing them around and then chatting in the long lapa (open, roofed, meeting place) where so many local leaders and international visitors have perched on stools and two-part chairs. His compound is neat and attractive: the swept yard, round houses and wicker grain stores are surrounded by fields, producing a wealth of millet, sorghum, millet, nuts and pumpkins. Mpisi was delighted to show us the success of his latest experiments to increase production.
It seemed to me a great privilege to sit with this eloquent, humorous, passionate African. We talked for over an hour. Our conversation ranged from farming to the ceremonies and traditions of the village, to how they deal with conflict, bring up children, ensure family cohesion, and the pressures on a fast-changing continent. He does not hold back his belief that the West has much to learn from Africa, but he is keen for development – on Africa’s terms. Listen to the two excerpts we recorded, the first on aid and development in Africa and the second on African culture.
Mr Mpisi welcomes visitors in his lapa
For most visitors to Victoria Falls its all about high-adrenalin: jet boats, bungee jumping, helicopter flips. But just down the road, among chickens and donkeys, in his neat homestead, there is a man who is not only charismatic, but a wonderful ambassador for Africa, who can express African tradition with pride. He loves to welcome and host visitors, including lunches and overnight stays; a Florida couple were due to hold a wedding there in a couple of weeks. He is well worth looking up.
Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 30 Jul 2010
Location: Southern Africa, Africa | Zimbabwe
Themes: society, travel | inspiring, social development