(Written by Maynard Manyowa)
My father, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, or just Dad, as I call him is a magnanimous personality of many talents, whose name quotes controversy because he is an exceptional man living in a world that is at the least two decades behind him.
I often describe him as a man from the future, not because he has been gifted with an amazing ability to look into people’s futures and tell them what will happen, when it will happen, how it will happen, and sometimes why.
I call him a man from the future because his success and business acumen precede the times, he lives in.
In the decade I have known him, first as the owner of a gold mine near the border of Malawi and Tanzania, and then during his formative days in ministry in Zimbabwe, he has always been a man who carried thousands on his back. Now he carries millions.
I read over the weekend, several analyses, especially in the wake of Julius Malema’s comments about him not being the holy spirit and telling his followers not to kneel.
Along the way were some quite persistent attacks on Naledi Chirwa, one of his parliamentarians, who were accused of kneeling before Bushiri.
Before long the dialogue had morphed into a discussion about why people must not call Bushiri father, dad or any like term.
Now, back to Julius Malema.
Malema is well within his rights to demand that people not kneel for him. What kneeling means to him and what it means to others is certainly different. In theory no one can kneel for the presence of a spirit that cannot be seen. Malema is a human being who occupies a physical space. You can touch him.
However, those that choose to kneel in the presence of their father, as a sign of respect, obedience, and subservience to the anointing he carries are not worshiping a human being. They are respecting their father.
In my native Zimbabwe, I kneel for my biological mother, who is alive. I never address her while standing up. This is how I was raised. I knelt, or at the very least always made sure when my late biological father spoke to me, or came home from the barracks, I was always lower than him when he spoke.
I kneel for my Dad, Prophet Bushiri. I do so because to me he is my father. He personally raised me, sending me to University twice, helping me start my various businesses. He bought me my first house and has allowed me to live my passion of journalism – which does not pay – by creating cushioned income safe zones for me.
And it goes beyond money too. When my children were born, Prophet Bushiri was always the first to arrive. When I lost important family members, he was always the first to pass his condolences, and where possible would sacrifice to travel and attend the funerals.
When I battled depression, and alcohol abuse, he was the lone voice that told me to hold on. When I struggled with personal issues and the D word came knocking on my door, he sat me down for days on end, spoke to me, listened to me, supported me, and gave me advice that only a father can give.
As I began to succeed in other spheres of my life, he was always the first to send me a congratulatory message. He was there when I was at the lowest points of my life. He is there now as I soar, see the world and conquer it. He is my Dad in every sense of the word. Every sense.
The true test of a man is how he treats, cares for and lights up the world of others. To that end, it is important to remember that, I am on the very low on the scale of sons and daughters. There are plenty young revolutionary people who have Dad to thank. He has done hundred-fold more for them than for me.
Think of Swazi Dhlamini, Tiyani Mabunda, and Praise Patterson for example. Think of Ephraim Nyondo, Onesimus and Hugo Rashid in Malawi. Think of the 100,000 orphans who are officially on the benefit scheme of the Shepherd Bushiri Foundation. How about the 10,000 people who are in University today, across the world, through his funding.
Over and above all, think of the 4 million people who follow him, love him, and depend on him for comfort and teaching. All these people have real and not imagined testimonies of the impact Dad has had in their lives.
Then there is the ripple multiplier effect. In one year, I bought my mother her first car and her first house. Today she has nothing but love, for the paths my Dad has opened up for me. I have a sister who is proud of what I have achieved and seen. I take care of 11 young people and their families, in the smallest ways I can. All these people have a story to tell too.
So, I kneel for Bushiri and I call him Dad, because he really, truly and by all metrics is everything a father is to his child. He is there for me physically, emotionally, psychologically and would not think twice about financial support if I needed it, just the way a father does. Not a spiritual father, but a father.
I don’t expect those from far off to always understand this, but I do assume that thinking animals do understand that truly remarkable people kneeling for a man they call their father isn’t a form of worship. It is an honour for which they must ask to interrogate its inspiration. There is a back story to this phenomenon. This is mine. There are 4 million other back stories, and if you listen and seek knowledge, you will understand what is plain and what is simple – that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is a truly remarkable father who carries the burden of millions on his back.
And those like me who choose to kneel in his presence and call him Dad, are right to do so. If you want to truly understand why then just visit his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church to find out, its free, and happens 3 times a week in Pretoria!
- Maynard Manyowa is a Journalist and Documentary Film maker based in England, United Kingdom. He used to serve as Prophet Bushiri’s External Media Relations Manager.