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Evangelists on the rise in Uganda

©

Video by Gabriel KAHN , Jocelyn GRANGE , Grégoire OZAN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-10-24

In Uganda, the evangelical movement is gaining ground. From the poorest swathes of the population to the highest reaches of power, the adepts of this multi-faceted movement see their ranks growing steadily.

The "magician", his church and his demons

Some, like preacher Kakende, mix black magic with their rituals.

In his church, young girls, entranced, shout and writhe around on the floor. The preacher extracts their demons from them, with force, cries and spectacular gestures.

The faithful come here to try to solve their problems: stress, nightmares, unemployment, cancer. Preachers like Kakende say they can solve anything in a few seconds, thanks to their divine capabilities. But these miracles do not come free.

The "traditional" born again Christian

At Kampala University, Martin Ssempa, who presents himself as a traditional evangelist, denounces preachers like Kakende, whom he sees as a stage magician who's running a business.

Pastor Ssempa, who runs the Church of the Redemption of Christ, is a "born again” who now follows Jesus' example. In his church there is no black magic, nor paid-for miracles. Yet congregation members soon fall into a trance to meet Christ and chase out demons. He also practices exorcism.

According to Angelo Izima, a journalist at the Daily Monitor, Uganda's leading independent newspaper, the despair of rural populations who arrive in towns without jobs can partly explain the rise of the phenomenon. He also denounces a "religion of opportunism": "They preach that you can get rich tomorrow", he explains.

The superstar televangelist

This is indeed what Robert Kayenga preaches in his sermons. He is the most famous of the Ugandan evangelists. The “pastor superstar” preaches in the style of American televangelists.

In the Miracle Centre, his cathedral in Kampala where 10,000 people congregate every week, he preaches that Catholics are wrong to make poverty a virtue. For him, money and material wealth are divine blessings. Robert Kayenga, who now runs 1,300 churches in Uganda, 200 in Tanzania and around a hundred in Rwanda, explains that it is Christ who led him to prosperity. His churches' expansion is continuing, thanks to donations.

Robert Kayenga attracts the country’s most powerful to his churches: amongst his most fervent followers are the First Lady and her husband, the president. In the wake of Museveni's conversion, a third of MPs and ten ministers also declared themselves evangelists.

Today in Uganda, a prayer is held at the beginning of cabinet meetings at the opening of parliamentary sessions.


To watch the report, click on the video at the top of the page.

Date created : 2008-10-24

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