The ‘sin’ in taking medicine
By Lilian Kaivilu
A religious sect in Nuu area in Kitui county believes that taking medicine is disobedience to God and lack of trust in His healing power. Not even a snake bite will take members of the Kavonokya sect to the hospital
Maimba Ngandi refers to himself as a staunch Christian. He believes in God, and fully does so. Perhaps the reason he hangs on the fact that God is capable of everything, without any trace of human intervention.
Ngandi, a resident of Nyaan village of Nuu area in Kitui County, does not believe in medicine or visiting the hospital. He has passed he same values to all his children and grandchildren.
The father of eight prides in the fact that he has not visited a hospital for the past 15 years. And so is the rest of his family. “The Bible is clear about healing. It only comes from God. Any other means to get healed from any disease is just but denial that God heals,” says the staunch member of the Kavonokya sect.
Members of this sect believe that when sick, the only option is to seek God’s healing through prayer. To Ngandi, there is no disease too big that God cannot heal. “Why do you go to the hospital when you can seek healing form above (heaven)? Isn’t that doubting God’s healing power?” quips the 67-year-old.
He confesses that none of his children has been delivered at a health facility. To Ngandi, any ailment or even pregnancy can be handled normally. His wife could not even attend pre natal clinics as they believe it is a sin to seek medical advice or healing anywhere else apart from God.
As a result of their perception towards medicine, members of the Kavonokya sect do not also believe in any form of assistant by a medical professional. “All my children have been delivered at home and I have not had any case of death. We also have witnessed numerous snake bites in our family but no one has sought medical attention for the same,” he says.
Damaris Wanjiru, a nurse at the Nyaani health centre confirms that Tue Kavonokya sect is a big challenge for effective healthcare delivery in the area. “Many of the Kavonokya sect members refuse medicine. They believe its idolatry to take medicine,” she laments.
Wanjiru explains that she, and other health professionals were forced to seek security escort for them to be able to issue immunization in a school in the area. “The school comprises of a large percentage of the sect members and to them, immunization is evil.”
She adds that the sect hides their children whenever they fall sick.
Maimba, however, explains that joining the sect is voluntary, just like any other religious group.
For one to marry within the sect, the bride or groom to be is supposed to stay a virgin until they marry. “When a time to marry comes, either the man or woman sees the vision of the spouse to be in a vision. This is how you identify your spouse within this religion,” explains the sect leader.