TB Joshua: Prophet or profiteer?

Saturday March 25 2017

In the stock of flamboyant and popular, if

In the stock of flamboyant and popular, if controversial, African televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua is straight out of the top drawer. PHOTO| AFP |  

By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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In the stock of flamboyant and popular, if controversial, African televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua is straight out of the top drawer. He has particularly made a name from his bold prophesies — which his followers hang on to while sceptics point out are often too broad to be believed. 

For example, in February 2012 he predicted that a president of a southern African country would die. Malawi’s President Bingu Wa Mutharika died on April 5 that year. The “accuracy” of the prophecy baffled many.

And when the 53-year-old preacher asked people to pray for leaders of southern Africa, saying the period from the end of February to April this year will be “peculiar months”, he was bound to draw the ire of Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika, the late head of state’s brother.

“Let me tell you, Joshua... you will fail. What you did in 2012 will not happen again this year,” AFP quoted him saying at a rally in Lilongwe on March 12 “He is a liar. He just wants to raise money.”

But that is not the only death the preacher has predicted. 

In July 2013, he spoke of a plane belonging to an Asian country developing a problem in the tarmac before it was engulfed in a balloon.

Barely a year later, a Malaysian plane, flight MH370, carrying 239 people went off the radar on March 8, 2014 and was later thought to have crashed into the ocean. Prophet TB Joshua took credit for the prediction—never mind the apparent differences in circumstances.

In a YouTube video by TB Joshua’s channel, Emmanuel TV, he elaborates why he is always sharing prophecies, however unpalatable.

“It’s a gift of God. There’s nothing I can do. If you’re in my position, when you see something you have to say it. If you don’t say it, the gift will remain dormant,” he says.

He also claimed to have prophesied about the January 15, 2015 terror attack in France at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo weekly newspaper. A video shared online by Emmanuel TV shows the preacher speaking about an attack in France where attackers were on the run. He made the predictions during a sermon he delivered on April 20, 2014 and the jury is out whether he was actually foreseeing the Charlie Hebdo raid.

While his prophecies and “miracles” have acquired him admirers and seen his church grow from a group of eight people to an air conditioned cathedral, it has not been without controversy. 

One of his goofs is when he wrongly predicted last year that Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton would defeat Republican Donald Trump in a “narrow win” during the November 2016 US presidential election.

A Facebook post by the cleric predicting the outcome of the poll was later deleted. He later posted a defensive message.

“You will notice that it is all about the popular vote, the vote of the majority of Americans,” he wrote.

Regardless, the cleric considers himself a rare breed.

On the website of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (Scoan) where TB Joshua is the overseer (because “the founder is Jesus Christ”), the cleric is listed to have had extraordinary power from the early days of the church.

“As time went on, it became increasingly clear that TB Joshua was not just an ordinary pastor, preaching “ordinary” words and doing “ordinary things”, says a message on the website.

“Clear evidence of outstanding miraculous occurrences began to arise. The lame began to walk, hopeless cancer patients were lifted from despair...

And sure, Africans from all walks of life revere his powers. The BBC reports that former Ghanaian President, the late John Atta Mills, said he had consulted the preacher ahead of the 2008 presidential poll.