Written by: Anthony Rees (National Chairman: TNHA)
HOW GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA USED A CON “PROFESSOR” AS THEIR VACCINE INFLUENCER
With the first phase of the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout finally underway, and a reported 67,000 healthcare workers having already been vaccinated, our government has indicated that vaccines will soon be offered to the estimated 220,00 traditional healers in our country as part of the extended healthcare workers rollout. This comes after a certain Limpopo based traditional healer and multinational traditional healers association chief demanded that traditional healers be included in the first vaccine rollout.
His bold calls were swiftly syndicated across television, radio, print media and their associated social media channels. “We must get early vaccine too, say traditional healers” and “Traditional healers say they have been left out“, went the daily headlines for weeks.
Provincial governments such as the Western Cape Government were quick to jump on the bandwagon, calling for these same inclusions. Why wouldn’t they?
Influences like this man have the power to reach far into rural communities with their trustful messages and encouragements like few others. So convincing are his stated credentials and association’s assurances, that other traditional healers and their communities reading and hearing this news have been convinced that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout must surely be approved by their ancestors, and that there is no reason to fear these strange and previously feared white man’s injections.
Who is this previously little known healer commanding the airwaves from Limpopo, and self proclaimed leader of an alleged 75,000 healers across the 16 State Southern African Development Community? Who is this sangoma (healer) who offers muti for bad luck, infertility, power & success in business on his website?
Meet Sylvester Mbayimbayi Hlathi, or rather “Professor Hlati“ as he likes to be addressed as?
Some of Sylveter’s fans deem him one of South Africa’s most learnred men in the realm of African Traditional Medicine. As proof of this he was awarded with an honorary doctorate (and a professorship) in African Traditional Medicine last year by a prestigious American College. (See SABC video)
He has friends in high places too. He has conducted a healing ritual for former President Zuma and regularly rubs shoulders with various Cabinet ministers. He gets invited to high profile government events as a VIP guest. He has allegedly traveled the world to promote Indigenous Knowledge and is even known as a philanthropist.
He is the founder of a the Mhlabuhlangene School of African Medicine, a ‘higher education institution’ issuing bachelors degrees in African Traditional Medicine.
Many are impressed that he has launched and grown a mighty traditional healers association in the SADC region with an acclaimed 75 000 members spanning 16 countries on the sub-continent called the Southern African Development Community Traditional Health Practitioners Association. And all of this organizational success within months seems phenomenal, right?
The bones appear to be all lined up right for Sylvester, and there is no stopping his rise to fame it seems.
The TNHA would naturally wish to partner with someone of the stature of Sylvester and his association, and even promote his achievements as a true success story in the promotion of African Traditional Medicine. Unfortunately none of this will be happening from our side, as recent fact checking of Sylvester’s claims to fame appear bogus. How can it be that that our obsessive fact-checking media didn’t even bother to do a cursory background check onto Sylvester’s bona fides before turning him into a headline?
Or were they so desperate to find Influencers with power and reach into traditionalist cultural groups, that they ran with hand in hand with this healer to promote the vaccine program, foregoing basic journalistic skills and ethics?
Do you want to find out more about Sylvester?