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James Ng’ang’a: Soldier or villain in army of lord?

Sunday March 17 2019

Neno Evangelism founder Pastor James Ng'ang'a

Neno Evangelism founder Pastor James Ng'ang'a is currently in court charged with the death of Ms Mercy Njeri. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH  

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Neno Evangelism founder Pastor James Ngángá thinks he is a soldier in the army of the Lord.

To prove this point, he appeared in a video that went viral this week wearing what looked like military fatigue of a banana republic and promising fire and brimstone to the media for calling out fake preachers.

But due to the gold-plated chain, bangles and a Nigerian kinglike hat he was wearing, he looked nothing like a soldier in any army.

Despite calling himself the chief general commander in the video clip, he came out looking like an underground hip hop artist shooting a music video without a budget.

But that did not stop Pastor Ngangá from lashing out at journalist Linus Kaikai, who had taken the bull by its horns by dressing down rogue pastors who swindle money from their unsuspecting flock.


During a TV show, Mr Kaikai said only preachers with a theology degree should be allowed to preach, and urged the government to rein in rogue men of God.

But 66-year-old Ngángá was not amused. “We will not go to heaven because of our education. Hakuna degree itapima mlango ya binguni (No degree certificate will measure heaven's door). Steer clear of the church. Stop it or you will face the consequences,” the pastor ranted in the video.

The preacher’s comments have since been condemned by Kenya Media Sector Working Group, which comprises journalists’ unions and other rights groups.

Not that he is fazed. In fact, Ngángá thrives on controversy. And the gods of controversy keep supplying him with it. He is a self-confessed former hawker, has been in prison and apparently he’s very wealthy.

“My early life was very difficult,” he says in a statement on his website. A reformed thief and jailbird, he is now believed to be “one of the richest preachers in the country”, thanks to the spreading of his prosperity brand of the gospel.


The Neno empire - which he founded in 1992 - has more than 30 branches. He is currently building a 20-storey Neno Towers that he is asking his members to fund.

If the building he is putting up on Haile Selassie Avenue materialises, Ngángá will control one of the prime real estates in Nairobi.

This is in addition to several top-of-the-range cars, including Range Rovers, one of which was involved in a fatal crash.

The pastor burst into the limelight two decades ago with fiery sermons on KBC TV that involved casting demons out of worshippers.

His sermons had the hallmark of a Nigerian movie. Worshippers would collapse due to what he called demons cast on them by the devil.


Pastor Ngángá would remove stones, wrapped sticks and other paraphernalia from the bodies of the worshippers and declare that the demons had been cast out.

“I have prayed even for doctors and nurses with PhDs and they got healed,” Pastor Ngángá said in the clip released last week.

In November last year, he "exorcised" demons from Tanzanian gospel artist Rose Muhando in a video that also went viral and forced the intervention of the Tanzanian government.

Tanzanian Music Foundation called for the "Nibebe" hit-maker to be taken back to the country so she can undergo treatment.

Ms Muhando has been a common figure in crusades organised by Pastor Ng’ang’a and confessed to being possessed by demons in the video.


The pastor has however not been on a healing mission. He is currently in court charged with the death of Ms Mercy Njeri.

The televangelist was charged three years ago with dangerous driving after his car collided with a Nissan March on July 26, 2015 at Manguo, in Limuru, killing Njeri, who was a passenger in the Nissan.

But Chief Magistrate Godfrey Oduor acquitted the flamboyant preacher due to inconsistencies in the testimonies of key prosecution witnesses, sparking anger among Kenyans, who accused police of bungling the case.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i asked the Director of Public Prosecution to appeal the verdict.

The matter is still in court. The year 2015 was also bad in the domestic front after his wife Loise Murugi Maina accused him of abuse in court papers. He is also battling other debt and fraud related cases.

But like many other controversies, the pastor can only hope he comes out of the latest like a soldier; bruised but still standing.