Ramadhan Milanzi darted out of the door like one possessed or, as his assistant said, because he was possessed. Presently, he was not the calm man who had welcomed us into his clinic – a two-room house, which was fenced in by a mosaic of tin sheets and pieces of clothing. He was in a trance. He stomped, he gasped, he yelled, muttering incomprehensible sounds, which his assistant rushed to interpret. This went on for about 10 minutes, before he shuddered and collapsed in a heap on the floor. Then, suddenly, he metamorphosed, gathering himself calmly to attend to his clients, who had come to him with diverse physical, spiritual and social ailments.
Every morning, Milanzi reports to duty here in Dar es Salaam’s Kingugi kwa Mnyani slum, where he offers prompt solutions for problems ranging from failing marriages, faltering businesses, asthma and anything in-between.
However, there is one exception – he knows well not to mess with TB.
“I have been trained to recognize the signs of TB, and to appreciate that I cannot cure it,” he said after recovering from the trance-like state. “If someone comes with signs of the disease, we connect him with community health workers and send him off to hospital for screening and treatment.”
The ailing in the community come to see him long before they can visit health facilities, says Milanzi.