Mad ‘bishop’ has a cure for Ebola: Vimto
Meet ‘bishop’ Edward Adjei, a Liberian fruitcake who believes that Ebola can be cured with prayer … and a grape-based drink called Vimto.
Adjei, of the Christ Incorporated Church is now on a mission to persuade Liberia’s government to show faith in his cockamamie plan to rid the country of Ebola. The deadly virus may have no cure known to medical science, but he says it can be seen off with the help of a three-day prayer session, an exorcism of the presidential palace – and several bottles of Vimto.
While health chiefs blame the outbreak of the virus on poor sanitation and overcrowded slums, Adjei points the finger at the burnt-out hulk of the old presidential palace, which stands on a hill in the capital, Monrovia.
After six years as the seat of power of the warlord Charles Taylor – accused of practising witchcraft during Liberia’s brutal civil war – the building, which caught fire mysteriously during independence celebrations in 2006, is widely believed to be cursed.
Adjei is one of a number of independent clergymen who now believe that the demons which lurk in it must be banished if Ebola is to be defeated. Said Adjei:
The presidential building is our country’s gateway to Heaven, through which our leaders speak to God, but it has been desecrated.
Now nobody speaks to God through the palace any more, so He has turned his back on our country. And when that happens, we lose protection against things like Ebola.
Adjei, who claims to have had warning of the impending Ebola epidemic in a revelation last December, has now written a joint letter with other Liberian clergymen asking permission from the Liberian government to exorcise the building.
He said it would require a three-day prayer session, which would also involve “a ceremonial scattering of the blood of Christ around the building”. It is here that his plan – to British minds at least – takes its most unexpected twist of all.
Rather than using communion wine as the blood of Christ, he uses Vimto, the British-made soft drink famous for its distinctive pink hue. Brandishing a large bottle from a store in his vestry, he said:
Communion wine is rather expensive, so we use Vimto instead. We use it for consecrations here in Liberia all the time, such as in houses and pieces of land where evil acts were committed during the civil war.
The perception that the Ebola outbreak has a spiritual element to it has been a headache for health chiefs throughout west Africa, who say that people who blame the virus on witchcraft are less likely to seek help if they get infected.
Adjei claims that any illness with no known cure is almost certain to involve Satan’s hand in some way. He stresses, though, that he also has faith in the more worldly methods to fight Ebola, which has now claimed nearly 3,000 lives across the region, nearly half of them in Liberia.
At the doors to his church in Monrovia’s Painsville district, parishioners must wash their hands with chlorinated water, and he says he would send anyone suffering from the virus to seek medical help first and spiritual help second.
Nonetheless, his plan for ridding the presidential palace of demons has so far attracted little interest from the Liberian government. He despondently said:
I have written to them and tried to contact them, but I have had no response.
Inset photo: Will Wintercross/Telegraph.