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Nigerians In History: TB Joshua

 

Temitope Balogun Joshua popularly known as Prophet TB Joshua was born on June 12, 1963. He was a Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist and philanthropist. He was the leader and founder of The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a Christian megachurch that runs the Emmanuel TV station from Lagos.


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Joshua was known across Africa and Latin America and had a significant social media presence with 3,500,000 fans on Facebook. His YouTube channel, Emmanuel TV, had over 1,000,000 subscribers and was the world’s most viewed Christian ministry on the platform before it was suspended. He was described as the “Oprah of Evangelism” and “YouTube’s most popular Pastor”.

He was awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008 and being voted the “Yoruba man of the Decade” by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua. He was called one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines, The Africa Report and New African Magazine.

As of 2011, according to Forbes, Joshua was Nigeria’s third-richest pastor, although the claim was immediately denied in a statement by the church. He was known to be controversial and was even blacklisted by the government of Cameroon in 2010.

Biography

According to Joshua’s official biography, unusual circumstances surrounded his birth. According to him, he said that he spent 15 months in his mother’s womb and narrowly avoided death after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof just seven days after his birth. It is also alleged that Joshua’s birth was ‘prophesied’ 100 years prior.

Joshua, then known as Balogun Francis, attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi Akoko, Nigeria, between 1971 and 1977, but failed to complete one year of secondary school education. In school, he was known as a “small pastor” because of his love for the Bible. He worked in various casual jobs after his schooling had ended, including carrying waste on a poultry farm.

He organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school during this period. Joshua attempted to join the Nigerian military but was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy. He died on the 5th of June in his home in Lagos shortly after his Saturday night teaching.

The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN)

Joshua wrote that in a heavenly vision he had received the divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry. Following this, Joshua founded the ministry organisation, The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). According to the organisation, more than 15,000 members attend its weekly Sunday service; visitors from outside Nigeria are accommodated in the accommodation blocks constructed at the church.

The Guardian reports that The SCOAN attracts more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. The SCOAN’s popular services have also resulted in an enormous boost for local businesses and hoteliers.

Despite Joshua’s popularity, the church only has a branch in Ghana, Joshua stating that “it is not yet time” for him to have branches worldwide as “it will be too much for my character”.

Religious Tourism

The SCOAN has been described as “Nigeria’s biggest tourist attraction” and “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 indicated that six out of every ten foreign travellers coming into Nigeria are bound for The SCOAN, a fact discussed in Zimbabwean parliament when addressing the economic potentials of religious tourism.

According to ThisDay Newspapers, “about two million local and inbound tourists” visit The SCOAN annually. The church’s popularity has led to an increase in flight routes to Lagos from several African countries in 2013.

Potential Relocation To Israel

Joshua’s contribution to Nigeria’s religious tourism was highlighted when the cleric hinted at the possibility of relocating his ministry to Israel during a Sunday service. The announcement proved controversial with several prominent Nigerians urging him to remain in the country, citing the economic setbacks Nigeria would likely experience through his potential relocation.

Foreign Visits

He travelled to Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Paraguay to hold crusades. He also visited Israel to receive a humanitarian award from ZAKA and visit biblical sites. His Miracle Crusade in Cali, Colombia in July 2014 was allegedly attended by 100,000 people and held in the Estadio Olímpico Pascual Guerrero.

Holding another to the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico which was allegedly attended by 200,000 people over two days in May 2015. Joshua’s two-day visit to Estadio Monumental “U” in Lima, Peru, attracted nearly 100,000 in September 2016, making headlines in local Peruvian media.

In August 2017, Joshua held a Crusade in Paraguay at Estadio Defensores del Chaco. His visit caused a media storm when the Paraguayan parliament approved that the cleric is awarded the National Order of Merit, the country’s highest honour usually reserved only for its own citizens. Testimonies from those who claimed they were healed through Joshua’s prayers at the crusade made headlines in local media.


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Nazareth

In June 2019, Joshua held a two-day event at the Amphitheatre of Mount Precipice in Nazareth, Israel – the historic hometown of Jesus Christ. The event was the subject of intense media scrutiny. Local religious officials told their followers to boycott the event and several small protests were held calling for its cancellation. However, an estimated 15,000 travelled from over 50 nations to attend the event, significantly boosting local tourism.

Humanitarian Work

A Forbes blogger estimated that Joshua spent $20 million on “education, healthcare and rehabilitation programs for former Niger Delta militants”. There is also a rehabilitation programme for militants from Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region, repentant armed robbers and sex workers who came to the church for deliverance.

Community Support

Joshua went to the aid of several communities in distress, notably providing two transformers to a local community after theirs was burned beyond repair. He donated over N26m towards restoring electricity and putting an end to over two years of power outage in four councils in Akoko area of Ondo State. The cleric has additionally made several large donations to the police force in Nigeria, Ghana and Colombia.

Scholarships

The SCOAN has a scholarship program that caters for the academic needs of students in their thousands, ranging from primary to tertiary education. In 2012, Joshua sponsored a Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University, with Nigerian media reporting she received £100,000 from the church. He also gave a scholarship to a young Botswanan to study at Harvard Law School in America.

Disaster Relief

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Joshua sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called Clinique Emmanuel. He additionally sent support to nations such as the Philippines, India and Ghana in the wake of varying natural disasters. The Emmanuel TV Team also assisted victims of the earthquake that struck the nation of Ecuador in April 2016, providing over $500,000 worth of humanitarian aid.

Education

Joshua funded the building and running of a school in Lahore, Pakistan named Emmanuel School. He also rebuilt a school in a rural area destroyed by the 2016 Ecuador earthquake, travelling to Ecuador for the opening of the school in June 2017.

Support For Migrants And Deportees

Several groups of Nigerians attempting illegal travel to Europe through Libya have been supported at The SCOAN following their deportation from the North African nation with only the clothes on their backs. Stories of the harsh conditions they encountered and Joshua’s subsequent assistance made headlines in several local newspapers.

Sports

In 2009, Joshua started a football club, My People FC, as part of efforts to help the youth. Two members of the team played for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Sani Emmanuel, who apparently lived in The SCOAN for several years, was Nigeria’s top-scorer and the tournament’s MVP. Emmanuel and his colleague Ogenyi Onazi signed professional contracts with SS Lazio. Onazi is a key player for the Nigerian Senior Team, the Super Eagles.

WBO International Light Middleweight boxing champion King Davidson Emenogu said that Joshua has financially supported him throughout his career and stated that he prophesied that he would be a world boxing champion.

Reconciliation Efforts

Joshua was involved in the meeting of the family of the late president of Liberia, Samuel Doe, with the former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson who was responsible for Doe’s death. During this meeting, the family publicly forgave Johnson who said it was through Joshua’s prayers that he stopped drinking alcohol and turned to Christianity.

Humanitarian Awards

In recognition of his humanitarian activities, he was awarded a National Honour by the Nigerian government in 2008 as well as receiving a letter of appreciation from the United Nations. He was further honoured as an Ambassador of Peace by the Arewa Youth Forum, a predominantly Northern-Muslim organisation, as well as being recognised with an Award of excellence by ZAKA, Israel’s primary rescue and recovery voluntary service.

Personal Life And Death

Joshua was married to Evelyn Joshua and had three children. He died on 5 June 2021 after one of his evening services in Lagos, Nigeria. He was aged 57.

Source:

The Guardian

ThisDay Newspaper

Forbes

Featured Image Source: Daily Post NG


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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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