John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Zimbabwe Police Label Nigerian Televangelist a Sorcerer

by John Campbell
May 21, 2012

HIV/AIDS patient Miss Mary Udoh receives "miraculous healing" from Prophet T.B. Joshua of the synagogue Church For All Nations during a service at Ikotun-Egbe district in Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, in this January 20, 2003 file photo. (George Esiri/Courtesy Reuters)


Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity are powerful forces in sub-Saharan politics. So, too, is the belief in prophecy and sorcery.

In Zimbabwe, it is tense times, with uncertainty about President Robert Mugabe’s health, the dates of the next election, and whether constitutional and other reforms will be achieved. Taken together, faith and politics are the context for the Zimbabwean partisan wrangling over a Nigerian Pentecostal preacher.

Zimbabwean prime minister and opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has allegedly invited the Nigerian televangelist and faith healer Temitope Balogun (‘TB’) Joshua to Harare to be the guest speaker on Africa Day, May 25, a “National Day of Prayer.” In response, the police, dominated by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, are pulling out all of the stops to prevent the visit. A senior police officer accuses Joshua of being a “false prophet,” and screened at the Harare police headquarters a video that dwells on Joshua’s alleged womanizing, titled “T.B. Joshua’s Evil Doings Finally Revealed.” Close Mugabe ally, the schismatic Anglican bishop Nolbert Kunonga, accuses Joshua of “Satanism” and of being “diabolical.” Previously, other pro ZANU-PF clergy have claimed on state-controlled media that Joshua’s preaching is “judgmental, partisan, and unorthodox.” The apparent anger of Mugabe’s supporters also reflects that many Zimbabweans, like others in sub-Sahara Africa, treat prophesy, “Satanism,” and the “diabolical” with deadly seriousness. Hence, the denunciation of Joshua as a “false” prophet.

Joshua earlier prophesized that “an African leader” would die in sixty days. In fact, the president of Malawi died shortly thereafter. More recently, he has prophesied that another “African leader” will fall “critically ill’ and be hospitalized soon.

For Mugabe, who reportedly suffers from prostate cancer and seeks medical treatment in Singapore regularly, this “prophecy” is probably too close to home. It doesn’t help that Joshua has apparently been invited to Zimbabwe by Tsvangirai who might somehow benefit from Joshua’s charismatic preaching whenever the elections are held.

An estimated 15,000 attend Joshua’s Nigerian services on Sundays, at his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). He also runs Emanuel TV, which broadcasts via satellite and Internet. He has affiliated congregations in Ghana, the UK, South Africa, and Greece. Zimbabwe police are reportedly investigating a “fraudster” church in Harare allegedly linked to Joshua. His faith healing ministrations have included South African rugby players.

Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by Abdulrazak Ibrahim

    The religious confusion characteristic of the African citizenry, with its mob effect and human idolization will only disappear through heavy investment in education. So long as the populace remains ignorant, real issues such as good governance, addressing corruption, insecurity and mediocrity will never be addressed.

  • Posted by Chigogo

    Vootsek mhani muArab, saka unoti hatina kufunda isu mu Africa!!

  • Posted by Kingsley C.

    They can say what they want, false prophet or not. Here in Nigeria, he is really popular, he heals and helps people through God or so we thought, that kind of sorcery should be appreciated if its so….

  • Posted by Caretaker


    It is a well-known debate that Faith healing has being a controversial issue since the coming of modern scientific discovery and research on diseases and sickness. Many philosophers of science has always made the claims that religious belief and miracles belongs to history, science will replace religion, the modern man will no longer be interested in religious believes or spirituality. The time will come where they will never support the ideal or believed in anything like faith healing. The religious bodies on their own parts especially the Christians have always stood their ground on the existence of God and faith healing for them even though very few people have experienced any miracle in their churches. If the Priest’s heart is right with Jesus, then miracles happen. One real block to miracles is the scientific sterile approach to bible study. As a result, it becomes a mind game. One modern day church, Scoan, Nigeria has changed world views on God and His work through the Son God, Jesus Christ,
    GOD is far greater than science after science is God; where science ends God starts.

    Evidence shows that in the modern ministry of the church, the ministry of Tb Joshua, at Scoan, Nigeria who heals and delivers evil spirits by the power of Jesus Christ, have come to prove to the world that those scientists are wrong with their claims, the fact remains that there are a few great ministers of God around the world that are healing by the Power Of Jesus Christ.
    But in the case of Tb Joshua’s ministry, the incredible healing and life restoration taking place there is so massive and mind-blowing. Terminal illness and disabilities are medically verified as healed. Medical science must be dumbfounded by the new reality especially now, that TB Joshua, Scoan, Nigeria have anointed five wise men and more are coming he said, which include female (wise women), to established an unmistakable fact that the future of the world lays in the hands of the church of God, and those speculations made by the founders and philosophers of science and medical science will not see the light of the day for God is the creation of heaven and earth including science.

    Tb Joshua does say that “Doctors treat; God heals, God is the one that motivate doctors to treat, medicine is Nature”. Prophet TB Joshua does not just say it but has proven it all the time through the mind-blowing healing power of God in his life. The question is not, will medical scientist accept the easily verifiable facts of thousands of healed persons. Jesus don’t need scientific approval ! Let the healed speak for themselves.

  • Posted by Caretaker

    Professor Ouweneel holds doctorates in biology (Utrecht), philosophy (Amsterdam) and theology (Bloemfontein, RSA).
    He is currently a theology and philosophy professor at several colleges and theological faculties. He is the author of over 100 books. He lives in the Netherlands, where he was born.
    10 August 2002
    I come from a Brethren background and not a charismatic background. So naturally I was a bit reluctant to go to Nigeria, but my daughter went there several times and she gave me the message that T.B. Joshua was interested in seeing me, although she had not told him anything about me. So I went there twice, once for five days in March 2002, and once for ten days in June 2002, and I hope to go there again in October 2002.
    I was very much impressed by what I saw, heard and experienced there. Not so much only in seeing the miracles that happened and the sermons that were given, but particularly the spiritual experience in my own soul when I was there. That is something that everyone who doesn’t go there in person will miss. You will not experience personally what it is to be at such a sacred place where I felt the Lord’s presence in a particular way and where He spoke to me on things that He had not spoken on to me previously in such a powerful way.
    Another thing that people will not experience if they don’t go there is what kind of person T.B. Joshua is in himself. I had the opportunity of several indepth conversations with him. People who don’t go there will also not notice the spiritual atmosphere of the meetings and the godly impact that he has on people who are there. I was there with a Dutch group and I spoke with the other guests who were there, all of whom were very touched. To me this was a tremendous experience.
    I may have my question marks on certain things that happened there because I don’t understand them; I am a European and not an African. I have question marks on certain things in his sermons. But having questions is very different from having major criticisms that would condemn the man and his ministry altogether. Besides, some of those questions have been answered in the meantime to my full satisfaction.
    I have seen many of the criticisms on websites and in newspapers and am very angry with some of the criticisms as they are totally unfair and just repeating the mistakes (or even lies) others have made. They are people who are not in a position to really judge, people who pick on certain sentences in sermons which they do not understand in the African context and in the context of the rest of his ministry. That is a very cheap way of criticizing. It reminds me very strongly on what the Pharisees did who judged the Lord Jesus from their own framework of thought and put him in the category of the devil (Matthew 12).
    I think we should be very careful, on the one hand not to be misled by Satan. That is absolutely true. But on the other hand, when we see God working, to attribute that to Satan is just as bad. There are many who have not been there, who did not have the spiritual experience of the place and who only in a rational, critical, theological way pick on certain things that they have seen on videos or read in the sermons, things they don’t see in their own proper context. That is very unfair to say the least and in some cases I really wonder whether the critics are not under demonic influences themselves, when I look at the harshness and unfairness with which they criticize.
    I am satisfied as to the integrity of T.B. Joshua’s ministry. I have no doubt about that. I asked him some difficult questions just to find out for myself about his personal honesty, and I have been satisfied as to that. Also I believe him to be thoroughly sound on all the basic doctrines of Christianity. It is only when people consciously or unconsciously misread certain statements that misunderstandings and mean insinuations are born. But you can do that with anyone’s ministry, take sermons apart and condemn the preacher. That has been done with T.B. Joshua. But on the whole he is absolutely sound when it comes to all the major points of Christian doctrine.
    His ministry is unusual but if God is pleased in these last days to raise a man in such an outward place in Africa in the way he has done to T.B. Joshua, that is His absolute sovereignty. We should be very careful in our western context to judge that simply because it is different from what we are used to or what fits into our own paradigms and our own frameworks of thought. Rather we should be prepared to have God overthrow our own frameworks of thoughts in the light of Scripture, instead of us judging things because they do not fit out preconceived ideas.
    I have gone over many of his written sermons and I have heard some of his sermons. English is not his native language, just as it is not mine, and some of the formulations certainly could give rise to misunderstandings. I realize that, but when you learn to understand the whole of his ministry more, you also begin to understand those formulations that at first were strange and you understand much better what he actually was saying. Lots of things that are attributed to him are based on this type of superficial reading. So on the whole I am absolutely convinced his written and spoken ministry is sound if you allow for certain weak formulations that indeed may give rise to misunderstanding if they are taken out of context or if your survey is only of a superficial nature.
    I pray that God will further bless brother T.B. Joshua, and will open the eyes of his critics.
    Willem J. Ouweneel

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required