The Benny Hinn show was in town the other week. The world famous evangelist was performing at our Nambole Stadium and all reliable reports assure us that he rocked the house. The Lord was heartily praised, miracles occurred, and the audience left satisfied.
But something has continued to perplex the natives of Kampalatown, even now, two weeks after the curtain dropped, and that is the matter of the falling.
It is a common event at Hinn shows, this falling. Pastor Benny waves his hand at people’s faces and something comes over them that makes them all of a sudden lose their feet. In industry jargon it is called being “slain” and you would be wise, if you are going to approach him, to have two men behind you who can support your weight.
Now, Kampala has its own star pastors. One of them is a Robert Kayanja.
A very well-groomed man who speaks with an amusing faux-american accent and owns an enormous lakeside mansion that has been used in the past by reprobates smuggling posh wine from Kenya (He insists he knew nothing about the wine and was not even living in the building at the time of the heinous act. In Kayanja’s real estate portfolio are many mansions, you see).
Another star is Pastor Imelda Namutebi…
…though she would rather you call her Pastor Kula now, for that is the name of the husband who she is accused of stealing from another woman. All is fair in love and war, and if young Tom Kula chose to abrogate the vows he made to his former spouse and hitch his heart to the bright yellow Imelda, that is the sort of shit that happens in life. More sneer-worthy is this: Pastor Imelda owns a Hummer H2, as bright and yellow as the woman herself, that is a perpetual nuisance to other users of Kampala’s narrower roads. When the monstrosity is bearing down on them, halogen headlamps searing white into their optic centre as they clamour to swerve onto the pavement and out of the way, I am sure motorists all find themselves thinking, “Behold the blessings the Lord doth visit upon his faithful servants.”
Both pastors were present at the Hinn show and both, when he waved his hand as he does, fell limp into a trance…. That is the cue for the taxi’s backseat theologians: someone somewhere started the rumour that falling is a sign that the collapsing body is infected with malicious spirits. Could it be that Kayanja and Kula are not holy vessels of the Almighty’s Love?
Better men fared thus before me..
Outside the stadium the bitter and cynical mood of people crammed into a creaking taxi after a long long day’s work prevailed as we nudged our way through the traffic jam Hinn had caused. On either side of the road there were streams of people walking back into town from the stadium because transport fares had been hiked out of their reach. There were hundreds of people of all ages, genders and sizes (though, you will note, of only one, ahem… walk of life. The wealthier brethren had land cruisers or, at the very least, Corollas to convey them back to their homes). Among the walkers you could not miss the sight of some on crutches.
It was only a matter of time before the taxi-chatter began to muse, in the colourful variations the Luganda tounge affords, on the theme, “What kind of loser leaves a crusade on crutches?”
The stadium is situated two successive stones’ throws away Kireka. Kireka boasts a stretch of road so bad that even the potholes have potholes. As the taxi edged through, we were suddenly compelled to get off the road. No, it was not Imelda’s H2 rolling up, it was sirens heralding the approach of the First Lady’s motorcade. Our First Lady, Janet Museveni, aka Mama Janet, aka the Honourable Member from Ruhama, is a born again Christian. In fact it was St. Janet who invited Pastor Hinn to Namboole. It was while we sat stuffed and tired and angry in a taxi becalmed by the roadside, watching all seven, eight, nine of Ruhama’s vehicles zip past –or attempt to zip past. With that road no zipping was possible. The most that could be achieved was a determined hopscotching through.
As they passed, the taxi wags gave the poor unblessed a break and redirected their heckling to Ruhama. They were delighted, to see her suffer the bad roads with the rest of us. “Now don’t pretend you don’t know!” shouted one brave man right at the moment her own car hopped by our window.