You might not have encountered the extravagant and profligate lifestyles of some controversial pastors from Africa, possibly because you have never been to their churches. But you must have surely heard or read the several stories of infamous political leaders on the continent who are notorious for being self-centred and outright greedy. Surely!
The problems of Africa may abound with major superpowers including China, Russia and the unmistakable America looking to reestablish their holds on the continent for economic gains. There is also no shying away from the fact that there are yet so many ‘smart’ individuals out there capitalizing on the unsuspecting intellects of the poor majority to amass quick wealth.
Truly, Christian churches in Africa are huge and so are their pastors. The same goes for the politicians on the continent. And indeed, there are several pastors, like politicians, who are living the letter doing what is required of them to make humanity and the continent of Africa a less frustrating place to live in.
Yet, isn’t it also ironic that for pastors (priests or preachers) and politicians, two of the most unavoidable and oldest jobs since the dawn of creation that require a basic requirement of service, the wheels they turn seem to have so sharply turned around?
Now, it is too obvious to see without being told or waiting to read it from any investigation that people are rushing into these trades merely for the goodies they come with. It would not have been such a big issue to be talking about but it scares the soul to learn how intelligently people are going about it.
Let’s bring into more perspective the situation of politics and priesthood. Consider these examples, for instance.
Regarded the wealthiest preacher in Africa, controversial South African preacher, ‘Prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri, was recently arrested and then charged with money laundering and fraud. He is alleged to have taken cases of cash out of the country on one of his private jets.
Bushiri, 35, has amassed a personal fortune of £120 million, which he calls ‘miracle money’, since he established his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) churches across Africa.
Also in this year alone, another pastor from South Africa, Pastor Alpha Lukau, went viral for what he claimed was a resurrection from the dead miracle that he performed on one of his church members. This case of a miracle from this pastor’s church gained even more attention after it emerged that the funeral firm supposedly in charge of the items used for the ceremony that was captured on video, came out to indicate that it was swayed into deceit and had no records of any such dead person. The company decided to sue the pastor and his church.
But that is not the only mischievous thing about this Pastor. He is also known for his public display of wealth, including the flamboyant ways he drives to church – in a motorcade with fleets of luxurious cars, very much akin to the typical motorcades of politicians on the continent.
South Africa alone boasts of many of these preachers including this pastor asking his congregation to chew grass, as well as this list that names a few pastors and the weird things they do in the name of miracles.
In many other instances of pastors persuading their members to engage in grossly extreme and inhumane practices all under the guise of quick wealth, a better future, religion and the promise of a paradise after this life, it proves even further what might seem like a loud silence of God – the very God they claim to be doing all these things for.
But politicians on the continent are no better. In fact, it is unsurprising to know that there are few instances in Africa where specific governments have cautioned or tried to caution or even regulate the deceitful activities of these charlatans parading themselves as ordained priests marring the good name of the call to priesthood and the church. Perhaps too, it is because of the same cloth they are cut in.
In Ghana in 2008, an approximately one kilogram of cocaine that was impounded by the State and was being kept at the national police headquarters was later reported to have turned into baking soda. The unbelievable story raised a lot of eyebrows and not even further investigations into the case proved anything positive or pointed to some finality on the matter. Today, in 2019, that case is yet to be solved.
In a recent report by Face2FaceAfrica.com on Sudan, sacks, alongside other suitcases loaded with cash were found in the home of Sudan’s ousted leader Omar al-Bashir opening an investigation into money laundering.
In Liberia, a container full of money, up to $60 million, went missing at the country’s port sparking a huge uproar and anger among the majority poor populace in a country that has faced a lot of conflicts and wars over the last few decades. In response to this news, there were attacks and counterattacks flying from the camps of the current president, George Weah, and the immediate past president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe was also recently reported to have reported a case where a suitcase full of cash ($150,000 or £117,600), was believed to have been stolen from his rural home in Zvimba, near the capital Harare.
And there are more. But why does this seem like an African case with preachers and politicians being at the center of many of these stories of deceit and theft? There is no lie in the fact that politics and religion are mind-related industries that play on the senses of desperate people. And maybe too, that is why it is so rampant in Africa.
Unemployment levels on the continent keep rising with little or no support for even brilliant minds with great ideas for entrepreneurship because the systems here do not encourage people like that. In many instances, either these ideas are completely squashed or the leaders find the smartest ways to deny these people of their ideas by taking ownership and leaving the originators out of the big success.
Food and security continue to be big subjects bedevilling the continent, and even worse, we have political leaders who feel a complete entitlement to the running and administration of their countries with many staying on forever. In other cases, political power is run like a family business.
Perhaps too, it is because God has surely sanctioned these two jobs for the African. Otherwise, how is it that people – too many of them – feel that to make enough money for themselves and their dependents, they have to explore the best of two areas – preaching or politics?
Some pastors no longer care about feeding their members with the rich and unadulterated Word of God. The least opportunities to make some money out of the people has become their forte. And even for politicians, the craft and the ability to be cunning enough to sell the best mind-sweetening messages to despairing people, win their trust and get them to spur their political ambitions into reality by voting for them, has become the new trend.
It gets scarier when it appears that there is a growing generation of young men and women who seem desirous to take over the leadership of their countries with the hope of repairing the broken system. Sublimely, the underlining intention for them is to also get into these “comfort zones” to make enough for themselves and those they care the most about.
It is no longer about serving the people or getting the best and most basic things put in place to make the lives of their people better. Consider even education and the priorities politicians place on jobs on the continent and you will know that this is not out of reach.
For pastors or preachers, the established trusts they have built with their members push them to go the extra mile of still trying. This is what is adding up to the desires of many young, unprofessional and undesirous people to flood into the system using well-played mind games to also make a living.
These people might go on for long without end but if the silence of God on these things can be this long, then it says only one or two things about them: it is either they are just mere subjects of a perfect case of God having truly ordained preaching and politics (both for wealth and power) or this continent is already doomed.