Eusébie followers in Bubanza fiercely opposed to vaccination

Eleven followers of Eusébie, the “prophetess” of Kivyuka area in Musigati Commune of Bubanza Province in the west of Burundi are currently detained in the communal prison. They are accused of refusing that their children get vaccinated.

Eleven followers of Eusébie detained in Musigati Communal prison for refusing to have their children vaccinated.

Eleven followers of Eusébie detained in Musigati Communal prison for refusing to have their children vaccinated.

Medical sources at Kivyuka Health Center say that followers of the “prophetess” Eusébie refused that their children receive vaccine during the immunization campaign, which ran from 20 to 23 November 2018. The campaign targeted children under 14 years of age and pregnant women in the second and third trimesters of their pregnancy to fight intestinal worms. “Some parents took their children out of school so that they would not be vaccinated,” says Jacqueline Mbonihankuye, a resident of Kivyuka area met at Kivyuka health center. She regrets that a young follower of “Eusébie” recently died of malaria because he refused to seek treatment.

“Our religious convictions and the teachings that we received on Businde holly hill oppose vaccines,” says N.K., a follower of Eusébie met at the Musigati communal office. All people must die. So, it is useless to get vaccinated, he says. He compares vaccination to witchcraft: “People get vaccinated to prevent themselves from contracting diseases like people who consult wizards to protect themselves against diseases, curses and other social problems. He condemns the local authorities who force them to be vaccinated. “Why are they forcing us to get our children vaccinated when they do not care about the grinding poverty we live in?”

Since late 2010, Eusébie Ngendakumana has been leading a sect worshiping the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every twelfth day of the month, his followers used to go to Businde hill in Kayanza Province to pray to the Virgin Mary. In 2015, thousands of her followers fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and then to Rwanda.

In April 2018, more than 1600 of them returned to Burundi from Rwanda. They were expelled after opposing a biometric registration process and refusing to get vaccinated. Jean Bosco Nduwimana, administrator of Musigati Commune, says his commune welcomed more than 400 followers of Eusébie.

Administration mobilized against the recalcitrant

Jean BoscoNduwimana: "We want them to understand that they must not oppose the government's policy."

Jean BoscoNduwimana: “We want them to understand that they must not oppose the government’s policy.”

The administrator of Musigati Commune says that the followers of Eusébie opposed the recent campaign of vaccination. 20 students of Masare Fundamental School from families whose members are followers of this sect were absent in class during the whole period of the vaccination campaign, hoping to escape this obligation. The administration was involved in the fight against this resistance to the vaccination.

“Eleven men are currently detained in Musigati prison. We want to make them understand that they must not oppose the government’s policy. “Mr Nduwimana believes that the resistance to the vaccine is a public health challenge that has a huge impact on society.” In addition to the health of their children, this choice has serious consequences on the society. By refusing to get their children vaccinated, they break the law and expose themselves to diseases and contribute to the spread of diseases. ”

“They experience social isolation”

The administrator of Musigati worries that the followers of Eusébie have followed religious teachings contrary to the Burundian law. He says they do not attend authorized churches but organize prayers in their households. The administrator, in collaboration with the chiefs of areas, plans to organize meetings with these Eusébie followers. He hopes that they will end up complying with the Burundian law. Otherwise, he promises to impose strong measures against them. He also regrets that these followers of Eusébie do not live in harmony with other people: “They consider their neighbors as their enemies. They suffer social isolation. That’s the reason why it becomes difficult for us to manage them,” he says adding that they never attend meetings organized by local authorities.

These followers of Eusebie accuse the local administration of abusing them. “I do not understand how a chief of area forces me to get my kids vaccinated. It’s not his business, “says N.K adding that authorities should instead give them aid as their belongings were stolen when they fled to DRC.