Charles Maulana is a quiet, unassuming man. It is easy to dismiss him as just another face in the crowd, until you sit with him and allow him to let you in on his dreams and aspirations as well as the meditations of his heart.
Having produced herbal medicines that have worked wonders in his community at the Morebridge resettlement area here, he says he has now set his heart on pursuing a cure for HIV.
Anyone who dares tell the world about searching for a cure for HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is however quickly and contemptuously dismissed as one of the many fraudsters that have tried to cash in on people’s desperation over the years.
But Maulana’s feathers are not ruffled.
His steely determination to make that ultimate breakthrough is unmistakable and talking to him reveals that he is a passionate researcher gifted in traditional and herbal medicines.
He says he is a believer, and he studies and meditates on the Word of God, revelations on different kinds of medicines and the ailments they treat surface in his spirit.
“When I face a sickness, I meditate on the issue, and it doesn’t take a long time before the answer comes,” Maulana says.
On HIV treatment, he said he was still conducting research.
“I can say I’m now halfway,” he says, “And as I continue to wait on God, everything will be clear to me soon.”
Although he was raised in the Catholic Church, he decided to leave the church for personal reasons, and has not aligned himself to any denomination since then, choosing to study and meditate on the Word of God by himself.
He says use of herbs as medicines was biblical. “It was because in plants, there is power to heal,” he says.
Maulana says he realised he was gifted in medicines in 1987, and although he started administering the medicines on a trial and error basis, he has never put a foot wrong ever since, getting all his diagnoses right.
The road, however, has not been easy. “At the beginning, my relatives were sceptical,” he says.
“They associated that with the occult and ancestral spirits, and they didn’t believe in that.”
He says every time he finds a person battling with a new or unfamiliar sickness and comes to him in need of help, he has sleepless nights seeking God to reveal to him how to administer healing.
“I pray day and night for God to give me a revelation on how to treat that person,” Maulana said.
Although the Bible says the sick have to call on the elders of the church to lay hands on them, anointing their heads with oil in a prayer of faith, Maulana says the levels of faith were the determining factor in the kind of ministration of healing.
“The difference is that when your level of faith is high, then you can simply pray for the sick and they are healed, but not all people can operate at that level,” Maulana says, adding that despite the limitations of the flesh, one can walk after the Spirit (of God).
“I’m walking towards that,” he says, “but in the meanwhile, I can’t leave people to die when there are other solutions.”
On the differences between his modus operandi and those of traditional healers aligned to the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (Zinatha), Maulana says unlike Zinatha members, he did not appeal to ancestral spirits but simply sticks to God’s Word.
Although he is based in Shamva, he originally hails from Madziwa. But since temporarily relocating to Shamva, Maulana has already started making an impact in the area, where his healing gift has manifested. Maulana, who divorced his wife in 1989 and never remarried, says being single has been helpful in the course of his work.
“In a way it helps because I can work with concentration, without any distractions,” he says, “women often want their lover close and that can be a problem.”
Maulana at times spends days in mountains and forests with his two assistants searching for herbs, sometimes going as far as Nyanga. He says he requires a mountain bike and implements such as tents and dust coats for research purposes.
“I also need a camera because as I do my research, I will take pictures of the different plans and record the ailments they can be used to treat,” he says. “I also use the taste of the leaves to determine what they can treat.”
Onias Mukombwe, a villager in the same area, says when he suffered from a skin disease, Maulana attended to him and in a few days, the disease disappeared. Maulana says he used a herb called guava cancer saururius, and up to this day, the problem has not resurfaced.
Mukombwe added: “At first I was afraid. I was not sure whether or not it was going to work because I had always been suspicious of people who dabble in herbal medicines.”
Another villager, Francis Hariyondo, says his three-year-old daughter, Michelle Dzikiti, was afflicted by cancer, which ate into her thigh until they sought help from Maulana.
“When elders told us it was nhuka (cancer), they advised us that it needed people well-versed in spiritual things, so we were directed to Maulana,” he recalls. “He told us to smear some medicine on the wound, which started drying until it was completely healed.”
Although he staggered in his faith at the beginning, Hariyondo says he eventually believed after witnessing the healing process and was compelled to pay $5 to Maulana as a sign of appreciation, although he had not been charged. “The $5 I gave him is far less than the money I would have spent if I had tried the hospital,” Hariyondo said.
Villagers here sing praises for Maulana, whom they credit with helping desperate people in the community.