I knew Messiah from a young age.
Back then, he went by the name Masii. I cannot really say that we grew up together because he grew up in the village and I in the city. We always went to the village for Easter and Christmas holidays and that is when I got to interact with him. His parents lived several homesteads away from ours and what stood out about their family is that they were immigrants. Everyone in our village was a relative but Messiah’s grandfather had bought the land on which Messiah’s parents now lived.
His father and grandfather before him were drovers. Every market day, they rose before sun up and went to all the villages, collecting all the livestock that needed to be driven to the market. They then built a temporary boma for the livestock, watered them and awaited the owners to carry out their trade. When market day closed, they drove the remnants plus any newly purchased livestock back to the homesteads. How they never confused which animal belonged to whom, I don’t know. They received very good payment for this service.
I can say that my very first memory of Messiah was the December holidays after I had finished my Standard One and was awaiting promotion to Standard Two. Ours was one of the few families that lived in the city and whenever we arrived in the village various neighbours would drop by to say their hellos. It was on one such occasion that Messiah accompanied his father to welcome my father back to the village for the December holidays.
As the adults sat on wicker chairs under a large umbrella tree, sipping their tea and making conversation, we (we meaning my siblings, some cousins and I) played around the compound. Messiah came and joined in our games and after a while, the games turned into an argument of whose school was better than whose.
We all gave the highlights of our schools and our favourite teachers. But Messiah’s claim to superiority was unique. He claimed that his school was better than all of ours because it shared a fence with St. Anne’s Catholic Girls’ School and this enabled him to learn Scottish Dance. We did not know what Scottish Dance was and challenged him to demonstrate.
He proceeded to put his hands on his hips and skip up and down, kicking his feet forwards and sideways in turn. He taught us a song to go with the dance:
“Mary in a reti skirt, Mary in a reti skirt,
I saw Mary in a reti skirt,
She was a tanzing a rekoti pulayer,
Taran taran tan rekoti pulayer,
She was a wonterful kirl!”
We found the dance very cool and immediately learnt the song and steps. We sang and danced Scottish Dance for the rest of that holiday!
After that, Messiah became a regular playmate whenever we were in the village for the holidays. We ran around in the farms, ate guavas, raided sugarcane trucks, caught tadpoles in the stream and generally did what children do during school holidays.
I vividly remember the time that his name changed from Masii to Messiah. It was during the August Holidays when I was in Standard Three. We arrived at the village to find that the maize had not yet matured. The rains had delayed which led to a delay in planting and consequently, no boiled maize or roast maize, which we always looked forward to. We lamented our bad fortune but Messiah had a solution. He told us to meet him at the stream at daybreak and he would show us a way of making the maize mature faster.
The following morning, at the crack of dawn, we were all at the stream. Messiah told us that we would walk around as many farms as possible, chanting the magic words, that would make the maize grow. He demonstrated to us how we were to lift both hands from the ground towards the sky as we chanted:
“Maizy grow quickly, Maizy grow quickly,
Maizy, maizy, maizy,
Maizy grow quickly, Maizy grow quickly,
Maizy, maizy, maizy.”
We chanted, running around the farms and it is only my mother appearing with a menacing cane that ended our madness.
“Stop that noise!” she ordered. “What are you doing anyway?”
“We are singing for the maize to grow quickly,” we chorused.
“Who told you that you can sing for maize to grow?” she asked.
“It is Masii,” we responded.
“Kwani he is the Messiah?” she asked sarcastically. “If he is the Messiah, then I want to see a miracle performed and this compound sparkling clean, or else…”
Fearing the cane, we immediately swung into action. We collected all the rubbish, and swept away the dead leaves from the lawns.
The name Messiah, spoken in sarcasm, stuck.
I last saw Messiah in December of 1995 when I had just completed my KCPE examinations. It was a bright mid-morning and I was enjoying the Kakamega Forest breeze as I lay on a jamvi under the huge umbrella tree, reading a Mills and Boon novel. I had reached a very interesting part of the book where the main character (a rowdy tomboy who had unfortunately fallen in love with a straight and narrow rich boy) finally saw a spark of love in the rich boy’s eyes. The rich boy had spared a glance her way as he passed by her father’s garage in their small town. Their gazes locked and held, his hazel eyes sparkling mysteriously. An inkling of a smile formed at the corner of his well-formed lips, leaving her pulse racing and her face flushed.
My heart was also racing when Messiah rudely interrupted me. He threw his long body onto the grass beside my jamvi as he said hello. The once short and skinny boy seemed to have sprouted overnight into a tall and skinny teenager.
“What are you reading?” he asked.
“Mills and Boons,” I said.
“You girls and romance!” he jeered.
“How did you find the exams?” I asked him. He had also sat his KCPE that year.
“Not bad,” he said.
“Which schools did you choose?” I asked.
“None in particular,” he said. “I think I want to be a drover like my father. After all, I am not a high school kind of man. I know my limits of exploitation.”
I had never heard that phrase before. “Limits of exploitation.” I wrote it down in my journal immediately, put a dash after it and wrote in capital letters “By Masii Omusanji a.k.a Messiah.”
We continued chitchatting about the exams, about my dream school, about his plans, about the villagers and so many other things.
I went on to secondary school and all I heard about Messiah were titbits of reports from his father about his work as a turnboy in a Mombasa bound bus, then about his work as a tour guide in Mombasa, then about his work as a caretaker for an Italian Couple in Malindi. Eventually, Messiah fell off my radar completely as the years went by.
You can therefore understand my shock, Dear Reader, when I came face to face with Messiah in Mama Debby’s house earlier this year. Mama Debby was that outgoing and helpful neighbour who everyone ran to for support or advice. In fact, her nickname was Mama Hekima Estate. I had heeded her call to support her in prayer as she had experienced a series of unfortunate events over the past fortnight. She had been bypassed for a promotion at her workplace. The next day, her husband had been involved in a terrible accident (it was a mere fender-bender, Dear Reader, but who am I to trivialise another’s troubles). To add insult onto injury, her daughter had once again dumped another boyfriend, reducing her hopes for marriage. And crowning all the troubles, her son had not made it to the college graduation list and her investigations had revealed that he had indeed not attended college for the last two years!
I had to support her through these tribulations!
I walked into her living room together with other women from the neighbourhood and I found her, her sister and some female relatives quietly praying. At the corner of the living room, just as one exited into the dining area, were three robbed figures huddled together in prayer.
The two in yellow robes turned around. One was a woman and the other a man. We later came to learn that the woman’s name was Sister Maritsa and the man’s was Brother Kivele. They both had the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and they accompanied Messiah in faith.
Brother spoke to us.
“Messiah is still in prayer, getting close to the Lord,” his said in a hoarse voice. “Let us support him in song.”
He then started a chorus and we all joined in, singing out of tune but confident in the fact that God did not mind. We sang;
“Roho Mtakatifu Shuka hapa tuombe,
Roho Mtakatifu Shuka hapa tuombe,
Roho Mtakatifu Shuka hapa tuombe, Asifiwe Mwokozi,
Damu ya Yesu, Damu ya Yesu, Damu ya Yesu,
Suddenly the so-called “Messiah” who was in a black robe, with a white turban on his head and bare feet, leaped into the air and lifted his hands high in prayer.
“Oh Baba, hear me,” he pleaded in a guttural voice. “Send your Spirit to support me as I stand in the gap of these sinners. Ohhhh Baba! Ohhhh Baba!”
He turned around and I immediately recognised him! Our very own Messiah! Our gazes locked and held, his dark eyes sparkling mysteriously, just like the rich boy in that Mills and Boons story of so many years ago. I knew that he recognised me too by the inkling of a smile that formed at the corner of his full lips.
Messiah then said, “I have received a vision that Satan has built an altar in this house!”
“Ashindwe!” Sister and Brother shouted.
“He has put a foundation of evil which has taken root in this house but God in his grace has been merciful on you and will uproot all works of Satan,” Messiah preached.
“Atukuzwe!” Sister and Brother shouted.
“It is not easy to uproot the devil but we shall do it in faith and in His Holy name,” said Messiah.
“Amen,” shouted Sister and Brother.
We all joined in the Amens.
“Let us pray,” he said, bowing his head and lifting his hands up towards the sky.
He started praying loudly, shouting, stamping his feet, clapping his hands and leaping up and down. Brother and Sister joined in prayer, shouting loudly, jumping, kneeling, crying. Brother even cartwheeled across the room and then summersaulted through the air!
Dear Reader, maybe you are of a Pentecostal upbringing and appreciate this style of prayer. But you must understand that I am of Roman Catholic extraction and very conservative in my approach to worship. I was stunned by the dramatization of the whole thing.
Brother made one final leap into the air and fell onto the floor trembling (convulsing, if you may). Messiah immediately lit a red candle, approached Brother and poured the hot wax over him. Brother started screaming, and in a woman’s voice shouted, “I will show you where I hid it!”
He started moving on his belly like a snake, out of the sitting room and up the stairs. (Dear Reader, it is very difficult for me to describe in words how a man can move on his belly like a snake up a flight of stairs and I request that you appeal to your imagination at this point of the story). Messiah followed Brother with a small drum, which he tapped with his Bible as he mumbled unintelligible words. Sister was close at his heels with the red candle, followed by the rest of us, curious lost souls that we were.
Brother crawled into the master bedroom and using his head, like I imagine a snake would do because it had no hands, struggled to lift the mattress off the divan. Messiah and Sister helped him and they managed to throw the mattress onto the floor, revealing an old dirty crumpled white plastic bag which had been hidden between the mattress and the divan.
Messiah doused his hands in olive oil, picked up the plastic bag between forefinger and thumb like it was some rotten thing, put it in the middle of his Bible and snapped his Bible shut. He then burst into a chorus and we all joined in as we walked down the stairs back to the living room.
The Bible was placed on the table and Messiah and Co. started praying once again. The words of their prayers implied that they wanted to be cleansed and forgiven from all sins so that the demon in the plastic bag would not enter into them accompanied by seven other demons.
I was slowly moving from spectator to believer.
After so much prayer, the much awaited for moment arrived. The plastic bag was to be opened up to reveal its contents! Messiah doused his hands in olive oil once again and then doused the plastic bag. Candle wax from the red candle was sprinkled onto the bag and the drum beaten exactly seven times over the bag.
Messiah then knelt beside the table and mumbling some unintelligible words, unwrapped the bag to reveal a black plastic bag. The black plastic bag was unravelled to reveal a red plastic bag.
“These are the three layers of sin,” said Messiah, wiping a cold sweat off his brow. He seemed tense and frightened.
“I have never encountered such a case before,” he said. “I have only ever revealed demonic works in two layers of sin, not three! I must retreat in prayer!”
He placed his Bible over the now exposed red plastic bag and went to the corner to pray. He prayed long and loud and Sister and Brother accompanied him. Rivers of sweat ran down their bodies and when Messiah finally turned back to the table to finish unwrapping the evil, his eyes were bloodshot and his cheeks drenched in tears.
“This must be very serious,” I thought.
He unwrapped the red plastic bag to reveal a pink lacy item of clothing. He lifted it up and we saw that it had something wrapped in it. He unwrapped it and lifted it up for us to see. It was a pink lacy panty with one red spot of what looked like blood on its crotch area. The panty had been wrapping several objects. First was a banana leaf, which was unbound to reveal an old six-cornered five-shilling coin, popularly known as kobole. There was also a kifaru matchbox with the name Baba Debby written on it. This was opened to reveal nail clippings. Finally, there was a white exercise book paper which was unfolded to reveal a dead, dry geko with a biro pen protruding from its mouth.
These findings were shocking to us all and to Mama Debby especially, who lost strength in her legs and collapsed onto the sofa. Several women rushed to her side, fanning her and offering her water. Messiah broke into prayer once again, pleading with God to send him the spirit of knowledge and wisdom and to draw away the dark foggy cloud in his mind and his soul so that he may understand the meaning of these evil items.
Prayers over, he came to decode the meaning of the mysterious items.
“The meaning of this is that the devil has made your daughter into his spiritual wife,” Messiah explained. “The red dot on the underwear means that he has not yet consummated the marriage. In order to consummate the marriage, he needs to disconnect her from her family. Because she is very close to her father, the only way to disconnect her from him is to kill him. The nail chippings show a severed part of your husband’s body. That indicates death. The dry geko with the biro pen shows your son’s life. The devil knows that the only way to disconnect him from his sister is if he fails in his education, goes astray and you chase him out of your house and out of your lives. The geko likes living indoors but if you find a dead geko, you immediately toss it out. The coins show your life Mama Debby. In completing his plan to disconnect you from his new spiritual wife, the devil wants you to feel like your life is incomplete just like the number six is an incomplete number in the eyes of God. That is the meaning of the six sided coin.”
“And how will the devil make your life incomplete?” continued Messiah. “He will deny you your well-deserved promotion, making you resign from your job in frustration. By then he will also be working to make you a widow and you will have driven you son away from home. You will then see that you have no life in this city and will move back home to the village, thereby separating you from your daughter. He will then complete his marriage to your daughter and use her for any of his evil actions.”
We gasped in shock at this conniving devil. How twisted can one be, even if he is the evil one!
“We will break this altar in Jesus’ name,” declared Messiah loudly.
“Vunja!” Brother and Sister shouted.
They broke into prayer, this time more intense than we had witnessed before. As they prayed, Messiah sprinked holy water onto the items, which were now on the tiled floor. Sister dribbled candle wax over them and Brother poured olive oil on them. They surrounded the items and raised their hands in deep prayer. Suddenly, smoke started rising from the items. They then burst into flame! We were all in awe and in fear of the Lord’s presence manifested in the miracle of the flaming items before us. Messiah and his team did not falter. They continued praying until the items were completely burnt to ashes.
The prayers came to an end and we were invited to tea. An envelope went round for us to give generously to Messiah and his ministry. We gave! Who would fail to give after witnessing that miraculous fire!
Messiah grew in faith, wealth and reputation after this. Even I, who doubted his abilities, began to have a little faith after I attended Debby’s wedding only a few months after her rescue from the devil. Mama Debby, as the proud mother of the bride gave a testimony on how her daughter was delivered from the clutches of the devil and how a few months after, miracles had occurred in their lives. Her son had returned to school and miraculously made it to the Dean’s List. She had received promotion after promotion almost on a monthly basis after stagnating in the same position for ten years. He husband, who had been accident prone, before the prayers, was now accident free.
Today, Messiah traverses the continent doing good works, praying for the sick, driving demons out of the tormented, breaking the altars of the evil one and working miracles in the name of God. He now goes by the name and style of Archbishop Prophet Apostle Messiah and has all the trappings to go with this title: the fuel guzzling cars, the mansions, the security detail, the trophy wives and the fawning flock. But he still does not put on shoes!
You may have seen him in the news recently. He performed a miracle in one of our small island nations by making a previously unknown and unlikely candidate, rise in popularity among the electorate and clinch the presidential seat. When interviewed by the press, this newly elected president said that the miracle was simple. He had to humble himself before the Lord and return to the innocence of his infancy. The Archbishop Prophet Apostle Messiah achieved this by making him spend a whole night naked in the stomach cavity of a freshly slaughtered cow, returning him to his days of innocence in his mother’s womb.
Messiah, when asked to comment on this miracle, simply responded, “The world is yet to see God’s limits of exploitation!”