The­nee­dle­diva

A Ugan­dan stu­dent’s pas­sion for Chi­nese acupunc­ture is matched only by her tal­ent for sing­ing

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle - By Ko­ceila Bouhanik

WHAT is first strik­ing when meet­ing Deliah Naluk­wago are her smile and pres­ence. At only 27-year­sold, the young stu­dent of clin­i­cal acupunc­ture - who also pur­sues an artis­tic ca­reer on the side - al­ready shows the con­fi­dence of a great master. She sat down with

to talk about her atyp­i­cal and in­spir­ing story. It all be­gan in 1998 in a doc­tor’s of­fice in Kam­pala, the cap­i­tal of Uganda. Then eight-year-old Naluk­wago ob­served with great at­ten­tion the ges­tures of Dr. Wen, who was in­sert­ing, with metic­u­lous at­ten­tion, strange nee­dles in the skin of her mother, who suf­fered from neu­ro­pathic pain. No treat­ment had been ef­fec­tive un­til then, but the for­eign tech­nique of the Chi­nese prac­ti­tioner seemed to have an un­ex­pected ef­fect: for the fol­low­ing month, her mother felt re-en­er­gized.

Since then, the word “medicine” has been closely as­so­ci­ated with “China” in the mind of young Naluk­wago. This thought as­so­ci­a­tion fi­nally be­came a tan­gi­ble re­al­ity in 2009, when Naluk­wago re­ceived a schol­ar­ship to study at the pres­ti­gious Bei­jing Univer­sity of Chi­nese Medicine. On the ad­vice of Dr. Wen, who in the mean­time had be­come her men­tor, she chose to be­gin with a clas­si­cal medicine cur­ricu­lum, and then move on to tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine.

“West­ern medicine seeks pri­mar­ily to cure, whereas Chi­nese medicine is more preven­tive in na­ture. This is a ma­jor dif­fer­ence, but the two com­ple­ment each other,” ex­plained Naluk­wago. “In the former, how­ever, side ef­fects, dosage and in­ter­ac­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent drugs must be taken into ac­count. Tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, and acupunc­ture in par­tic­u­lar, has none of this. While we must take care to en­sure that nee­dles are ster­il­ized, there is no pain and there are no side ef­fects.”

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