The People vs Shepherd Bushiri, the Malawi Prophet based in SA

Love him or hate him, but you cannot ignore Shepherd Bushiri even if you tried, and believe me, I have. The pendulum of his appeal in the court of public opinion has swung from one extreme to the other, oftentimes, within the space of a day.

Bushiri: Major 1

Bushiri: Major 1

From the fantastic to the exaggerated, from fact to myth, from public darling to social media pariah, he is just one rumour shy of being declared the illegitimate offspring of Barack Obama and whoever TB Joshua’s wife is.

No matter what side of the fence you are on, when it comes to this polarising young fellow, you have to hand it to him—he has captured everyone’s attention. Be they Men of God who have been ministering to the flock longer than Bushiri has been alive or gospel artists pointing an accusatory finger at the speck of sawdust in Bushiri’s eye or paranoid politicians and an insecure incumbent government suspecting ulterior motives; everyone has been taken, shaken, stirred and irked by this man of mystery.

And the one thing that his gob-smacked critics fail to realise is that they have fallen for the oldest trick in the book: all publicity is good publicity.

Whether justified or not, politically correct or scripturally endorsed, all the criticism being levelled against this overnight sensation, whose wealth is rumoured to be of Solomonic proportions, is only fanning the fire of his intrigue, mystery and bank account.

But of all the things that have been said, one thing is undeniable: without a shadow or inkling of doubt, Bushiri is a master showman who has grasped the artistry of marketing and spectacle to capture our imagination. Like every showman before him, Bushiri knows his audience, probably, better than they know themselves. Bushiri is giving this audience what they crave for most: a polished and well-packaged product —hope.

One wonders, with all the other things going on in this sick and dying world of ours: where politicians promise and do not deliver, where fathers abandon their responsibilities and where God sometimes feels distant, is giving people hope such a bad thing?

But even before we attempt to answer such a question, let us take a few steps back from all the cacophony of spectacle and speculation. Let us remove ourselves from all the clamour and din of public mudslinging and ask one simple question: What does all this really mean?

Is Bushiri just another passing craze like Gangnam-style choreography or platform shoes from the 1970s? Or, is Bushiri merely a reflection of our own internal turmoil as a failed country that has lost the resolve to solve its own problems and is now listening to anyone who offers alternatives-real or imagined? If the latter be the case, one wonders if that is a safe place to be.

Strangely enough, it has only dawned on me, as I write this, that we are witnessing a new phenomenon in the Malawian experience courtesy of Bushiri. A phenomenon we have often associated with far distant lands and cultures, but it is unfolding right before our eyes.

Bushiri, more the brand than the man, has transcended the faith and God to whom he pledges his allegiance and has become the centre of his own universe, a universe we all, critic and disciple alike, have had a hand in creating. Bushiri, with branded soaps and lotions to boot, is our first real celebrity.

Ultimately, just as the high noon sun journeys to the horizon, every show comes to an end. Sooner or later, the master showman’s mask must fall off and our projections of what we want Bushiri to be must fall with it. When that happens, I would not be surprised if we discover that it was all smoke, mirrors and a tailor-made designer suit: in other words, it was all an illusion.

Like the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai waiting impatiently for God to show up, Bushiri is not just the celebrity we deserve, he is our own golden calf; made with our words, eyes and mind into a modern day graven image like the many celebrities we idolise.

He has put on a great show, worthy of a standing ovation, but the show is not yet over only because we will let it be over. But the choice is ultimately ours: we can keep our eyes glued on the Bushiri media machine and try to find God in the madness or we can grab that remote control and change the channel!

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Queen Matekenya
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Queen Matekenya
5 months 6 days ago

No. 8 – maybe you meant ‘idol’ woprship

Tikondane
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Tikondane
5 months 8 days ago
Oh my my my! A good piece, Nhlema! You understand perfectly well these things. Someone above comments that whether Bushiri is of God or not only God knows. No. If you read your Bibles very well, you don’t need God to come down again and tell that Bushiri is of God or not. The Holy Spirit shall testify to you that He is of God or not. He is a man of God. That’s the fact. This issues is no longer subjective. God has given us the privilege to tell who is of God and who is not; not in… Read more »
kamangadazi
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kamangadazi
5 months 8 days ago

In all those sayings, God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Perfect Judge. Let man not judge on these Religious issues.Do not turn speculations into True Stories. Let Justice be Justice.

piere
Guest
5 months 8 days ago

wow! wow! wow! very interesting, really interesting. each one is trying to be better than the other in the language instead of concentrating on the subject matter. whether Bushiri is the true man of god no one knows. its only god who sees beyond our eyes. lets discuss things that will galvanize our poverty torn country.

Optic Computer
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Optic Computer
5 months 9 days ago

One thing Mutharika and his jokers could to improve Kwacha’s stand on the international currency market, and improve tourism is to ask Bushiri to come to Lilongwe or Blantyre. His followers can help boost number of foreigners in the country to millions who in turn will give our DPP cadets jobs in hotel industry and our new airline some breath.

Peeping lizard
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Peeping lizard
5 months 10 days ago

Leave bushiri alone

shadreck kapalamula
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shadreck kapalamula
5 months 10 days ago
sometimes i dont undertand how people think so someone is thinking bushiri has paid this writter anyway that how you think but one thing you people dont know is that we cant all hate him nop some of us do love him as you have loved to hate him but i wonder why you people who hate him your busy trying to pull everyone to your side some of you who have never even preached the gospel your becoming pastors trying to preach about him those are erros that need collection live to remember this man is unstopable men of… Read more »
tchingo
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tchingo
5 months 11 days ago
Dear good people..the language of this write-up is not difficult unless you are accademically disadvantaged….it is the content in the language though that is unclear making a lot of pipo think perhaps they are poor of undersanding. The writer has failed us big time in an attempt to sweet-talk us by sugar-coating everything about Bushiri as divine wisdom. Just like some people write everything about Bushiri as bad, this writer commits another academic sin by worshiping Bushiri in this article: bad journalism. That’s why some pipo will easily assume you have been given some incentive by Bushiri to write this… Read more »
detergent
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detergent
5 months 11 days ago

The writer wants to be dausi of tomorrow

musamude
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musamude
5 months 11 days ago

Inu sons of Afalisi sumunayambe ndinu Ku kudana ndi anthu amulungu ,mumafuna kuti Azikhala opempha inu mukuyendela ma galimoto odula ogula ndindalama za cashgate mwagwanayo njale ya ndalama zakubayo Let him be.

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