By Isaac Asabor
“Death creates a prejudice in favor of the deceased…I should like to find someone who knew Elizabeth Barnard and who does not know that she is dead! Then, perhaps, I should hear what is useful to me — the truth.” If there is any time that can be deemed appropriate to bring the foregoing quote to bear, it is now that caustic comments are been made by both mockers of Pastor T.B. Joshua, who left this wicked world on June 4, 2021; few days before his birthday to meet his maker. Counteracting enough, flood of comments and articles such as this have been in praise of Joshua’s fervent faith and his legacy for the Church. But as is normal now in any online reaction, there came the backlash too.
However, the foregoing quote, credited to Hercule Poiro have being rated to be magnum opus among his other quotes as it threw a deep insight into honoring the dead, and to a large extent defines the trajectory of human thinking and actions over the dead. There is no denying the fact that since he died that the reactions to his death from some somewhat “holier-than-thou” devotees in the Christendom have been surprisingly malicious and caustic as they are mischievously making attempt to portray him as a devil incarnate. Not only that, they have been attempting to make his legacy that is very visible for all to see become a hotly debated controversial topic, and in the same vein making the history of his time as world admired clergy to be re-imagined in largely unexpected ways, and thus making it look as if he will not make heaven.
In fact, in African tradition, regardless of how disliked or embarrassing a person was in life, no matter how wicked such a person was considered to be, or what crimes he had committed, the moment he or she leaves this mortal earth, a nostalgia filter falls into place causing him or her to be remembered as being better than he or she was, for the most part. For some people, the reasoning is that the dead person is not here to defend himself or herself anymore, or at the very least cannot continue to do the unpleasant things he or she was reviled for anymore. Therefore, it is not surprising in Africa, mostly in the villages to see a sworn enemy of a decease commiserating with the family of his enemy that just departed to eternity.
It is not an exaggeration to say that if the dead could speak that Joshua is likely to reply his traducers who are mostly affiliated to the Christendom in respect to the unthinkable and mischievous allegations cum cheap propaganda been concocted to smear his track record as a pastor during his earthly journey. There is no denying the fact that a dispassionate critical analysis of most of the allegations that have been levelled against him would reveal that they are all lies from the pit of hell, and they were no doubt caused by the spirit of sheer jealousy and hatred.
If only the dead could speak. In case nature granted him this ability, I am sure he would come back from the dead and look his traducers, particularly Pastor Chris Okotie in the eye. He is likely to ask them some really tough questions. He would ask, “Even if the almighty had planned my exit as it happened on the 4th day of June, 2021, did I ever replied any of you while on earth? “Why did you people never felt for members of my family, particularly my wife and children; at least by giving them the peace of mind to mourn me and give me a befitting burial? Why are you people playing God and behaving as if the day of your own death will never come? And by the way who made you all a judge over me? I am already with my God, and the collective noise you people are making on social media platforms is baseless.
In fact, “Why did you people hated me with passion and even went ahead to launch a flurry of criticisms against me. Is it because while I was alive my church attracted a congregation of over 15,000 people on weekly basis as people travelled from several countries in Africa and beyond to see me minister to them? Is it because my sermons and healing activities were televised on Emmanuel TV; which you all know as a TV channel that was dedicated to the activities of my church?
“None of you can deny the fact that I was also an outstanding philanthropist, which further endeared me to many who admired me. It is on record that during my earthly journey, I received many awards for these activities. One was the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) awarded to me by the Nigerian government in 2008”.
Given the barrage of criticisms that has been trailing the death of the pastor since he died over a week today, there is no denying the fact that his departure has proven that a sadist and hypocritical mob mentality prevails among flock of Christians in this part of the world. It seems we are all living in a gigantic, loud and noisy drum-house where some people are trying to make others look like devil incarnates.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, why would a man that for the most part of his earthly journey, through his ecclesiastical activities boosted local businesses and hoteliers in the Ikotun-Egbe neighbourhood where his church is located and to a large extent, Nigeria, be under the jackboot of mockers in his death?
Findings have shown that the Synagogue is the most visited destination by religious tourists in West Africa with thousands of foreigners flocking to attend the church’s weekly services. Figures released by the Nigerian Immigration Service showed that six out of every ten foreign travelers coming into Nigeria are bound for The Synagogue, a fact discussed in the Zimbabwean Parliament recently when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism. The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries. It was also reported in one of the national newspapers that about two million local and inbound tourists visit The Synagogue annually. This included numerous high profile visitors among were King Godwill Zwelithini of the Zulus with Princess Sibusile Zulu, King Moloto Solomon of the Limpopo Kingdom, Frederick Chiluba – former President of Zambia, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, Prof Pasal Lissouba – one time President of Congo Brazzaville, Justice Ralph Beisner from New York, South African Rugby player – Jacob Westhurzen, Prince Yormie Johnson – former Liberian warlord, President John Atta Mills of Ghana, John Mahama of Ghana, and recently, Liberian President, George Oppong Weah.
In fact, TB Joshua was largely popular across Africa and South America, and his social media pages, with 3,500,000 fans on Facebook, 421,000 followers on Twitter and over 1 million subscribers to his Emmanuel TV YouTube channel. His presence on different platforms of the social media aggregated to make him the world’s most viewed Christian ministry on social media, even if he was suspended from Youtube in April 2021. He was described as the “Oprah of Evangelism” and “YouTube’s most popular Pastor”.
At this juncture, permit me to leave the words of wisdom of Chinua Achebe that says “Never kill a man who says nothing” to Pastor T.B. Joshua’s traducers who are mostly in the Christendom. Simply put, they should leave him alone. They endlessly taunted and criticized him while on earth, and in his death they ostensibly refused to let him be. It is unfair, and such level of hatred and bitterness do not speak well of them as children of God. To put aptly put it, enough of the backlash trailing Pastor T.B. Joshua’s death!