By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
In recent months, Central and Southern Africa have seen an increase in the number of people publicly claiming to be Jesus Christ. Just within the past few weeks, there have been at least four people from Central Africa and Southern Africa claiming to be the Messiah.
However, this phenomenon is not unique to Africa alone. Last year a man in Australia, Allan John Miller claimed he was Jesus Christ and that his partner, Mary Luck was in fact, Mary Magdalene. Australia's Cult Awareness and Information Centre and the Anglican and Catholic churches were concerned that the couple were “attracting vulnerable people searching for meaning in life.”
History itself is witness to countless other Jesus Christ claimants most of whom have been dismissed as mentally unstable or disillusioned and in worse circumstances mobbed and beaten. Still many of them have and continue to attract a good number of followers.
Some of Allan John Miller’s followers for instance gave up their jobs, careers and even families just to be close to him. What exactly can we attribute this to? Is it a deep desire to connect with God physically or perhaps some people feel Jesus Christ’s second coming long overdue?
In the past few weeks, Central Africa has seen an increase in reports of men claiming to be Jesus despite the possible disastrous consequences. Mupeta Chishimba a resident in the Zambian City of Kitwe was beaten after he was spotted going round town preaching God’s message claiming he was Christ and that all divine powers of Jesus had incarnated in him.
The media reports that he angered members of the public when he said he was Jesus Christ who had come to put an end to all political Governments. “I am Jesus Christ from the heavens who has come to save you from this world,” he said. “I would put an end to the Political Government of this world and I will start ruling. No one can stop me because I posses the divine power.”
A man in the Zimbabwean City of Bulawayo had to be rescued from an angry mob by anti-riot police last week after claiming to be Jesus. Abdullah Ncube reportedly invited the wrath of the crowd at the city's Nkulumane Sekusile Shopping Centre when he claimed he had power to perform miracles.
A South African man is also claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. "I will never die, as God gave me as a command," said Moses Hlongwane in an interview with eNews Channel Africa. The man, who lives in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town, has apparently attracted over a dozen followers, who are giving him money in hopes that his message will be spread around the world. Hlongwane says that much like Jesus, he spent time in the wilderness, where he overcame Satan and was resurrected as the Son of God.
eNews Channel Africa interviewed one of his followers, 84-year-old Paul Sibiya, who said that he gives his entire pension to the man he believes to be the reincarnated Son of God. "I am a pensioner, however, I don't use it to support my wife but I give to the king of kings as a financial boost," he said.
The number of people in Africa claiming to be Jesus Christ is surprising. One wonders whether their claims that they will bring about a different political dispensation and even eradicate poverty could be a response to the terrible conditions in which too many Africans live. Perhaps it's a reaction to the oppression of some African governments, or high levels of corruption that leaves people struggling to survive; and in some cases ending their own lives - suicide is also on the rise.
Despite the many other explanations, as Christians we need to consider Matthew 24.5 in the Bible, which states: "For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."