Temitope Balogun Joshua, better known as T.B. Joshua, the famed Nigerian televangelist has died in Lagos. He was just 6 days shy of his 58th birthday. While a source close to the family has confirmed his death, the cause of death was not immediately stated.
Here’s a look at the life and legacy of the fallen preacher.
T.B. Joshua was born on June 12, 1963 in Arigidi, a town in Ondo State, Nigeria. He never completed secondary school as his desire had been to join the Nigerian army, but he missed the train that was to take him to the military academy.
In 1987, Joshua started his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) with a mere 8 members, but the church didn’t come into the limelight until it started satellite broadcasts of its services from its Lagos base.
While T.B. Joshua was seen by some as a controversial “prosperity gospel preacher”, and being rated by Forbes magazine as Nigeria’s third richest preacher (a claim which SCOAN swiftly disavowed), he did endear himself to many others.
His gesture of handing over wads of money in sealed envelopes to orphans, struggling students, widows etc made him to be loved by many.
Others found his anointing water, bumper stickers and touching of TV screen to receive healing – to be a little controversial, insisting that healing from God does not need to come through channels.
His church attracted personalities from sports stars to Heads of State and had a weekly attendance of over 15,000 people, more than the number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London combined according to a report in The Guardian (UK).
His church also boosted Nigeria’s economy as businesses such as catering and accommodation for the thousands of guests, were set up all over the city of Lagos.
TB Joshua’s impact was felt well beyond Nigeria, especially in Latin America where he reached out to millions. In 2015 and 2016, he visited the Latin American countries of Mexico and Peru respectively, filling Lima’s Estadio Monumental to capacity during his crusade in Peru.
TB Joshua, changed the perception of Christianity in that he showed that Africans are not just on the receiving end of Western Christians’ charity by also being a giver. He sponsored two students – one at Oxford University in the UK and another at Harvard University in the US and also donated 26 million Naira (34 million CFA) to help towards solving electricity shortages in Akoko area of his Ondo State.
Every Cameroonian family has some recollection of the mid-2000s when they would huddle around their TV sets to watch the “miracle preacher” deliver those who were demon-possessed.
“Come out of her!” Joshua would command his unseen foe and a woman would wobble before falling to the ground as ushers surrounded her.
“There is someone here and you and your husband divorced on Tuesday. You must go back to your husband…”
There would be temporary silence as everyone wondered who it was he was talking about.
“Her name is Patricia and you’re from Ghana,” Joshua would specify and then a lady would come running down the aisle in tears
“It’s me man of God,” she’d sob.
Now all these are just memories. It is not clear yet who will take over as head of SCOAN but it is certain from the sheer number of posts that Africa has lost one of its finest sons and the void he leaves, will be felt for a long time.
About the author:
Ngala Hansel is a Cameroonian journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked for a number of Cameroonian organizations as a communications officer and a reporter. He is currently a master’s student at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.