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Young woman in Burkina Faso becomes famous for her "healing powers"

Healer Amsétou Nikiéma gives a prayer of blessing   -  
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Burkina Faso

Thousands of people have come from near and far on a Sunday to an area some 30 kilometres outside of Ougadougou to see a young woman.

Twenty-year-old Amsetou Nikiéma, also known as Adja, is famous across Burkina Faso for what people believe are her healing powers.

In this country with a weak health infrastructure and where traditional beliefs remain strong, for people who are desperate, or unable to afford treatment, she is a godsend.

As a child, her life was not easy. Haunted by visions, her parents thought she was crazy, even although she told them this was not the case.

"There was a three-year-old who couldn’t walk, and I swore on my life that I would treat him for 12 days and he would walk. When I gave medicine, the child there got up on the 11th day and started walking. So on the 12th day people started suspecting,” she said.

Adja says some call it madness, others say it is not, but just three years after her first healing, her reputation continues to grow.

"Today, I don’t even know why God gave me power to this point. If I get up and say I want this, he gives it to me. If I see someone’s sick, if I say I’ll help him, he helps the person."

Her healings are free, but she welcomes offerings from the people who come. Buildings have sprung up around the site, funded by wealthy donors. And traders stalls clutter the crowded road to her tent on a patch of open land.

Burkina Faso is a predominantly Moslem country and she uses religious prayers, traditional medicine, and spell-clearing ceremonies to heal.

Officially, only nine per cent of Burkinabè consider themselves "animist", a figure that is reportedly largely underestimated.

Adja will declare her powerlessness in desperate cases or those outside her field of expertise, and people believe in her integrity.

"The patient was suffering from recurrent vertigo. We took medication from all sides, but to no avail. An acquaintance told us about her and we came. When we came, everything went back to normal and he was able to return to work," said Awa Tiendrébeogo, a relative of a patient.

As a child, Adja says she was considered crazy, and was rejected, beaten, and chained by her family. But today, she thanks her torturers saying that because of the way they treated her, she knows how to take care of people.

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