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Opinions of Sunday, 10 January 2016

Columnist: Ricketts-Arthur, Joe

Stop The False Prophets Before They Become Credonia Mwerinde

Joe Ricketts-Arthur

January 5th 2016

On January 1st 2000, many people all over the world celebrated the New Year with joy, not only because it was just an ordinary new year, but because they were welcoming an entirely new century and a new millennium – a millennium that would bring hope to those in despair and those who had lost loved ones during the previous year. More importantly, they were glad that they had lived to see the turn of a new age. Many year-long religious and non-religious activities were performed to embrace the new millennium. But in Uganda the jubilation was short-lived. Members of a church called "Restoration of the Ten Commandment" in the Kabumba village, situated about 120 miles west of Kampala, were angry because they did not die. Not only were they disappointed that they did not enter the heavenly realm the night before as promised them, but they were also distraught because they had lost all their possessions. Yes, they had sold everything that they had, and had given the proceeds to a false prophetess called Credonia Mwerinde who prophesied that the world was going to end on the night of 31st December 1999 and that she would be carried in a spiritual chariot to heaven, so all those who wanted to join her in the journey to the celestial realm should sell their belongings and give the proceeds to her.

When on the 1st January 2000 the church members woke up to the reality that this woman had defrauded them, and started demanding the return of their monies, Credonia Mwerinde (affectionately called Caledonia) hatched a plan that would shock the whole world. She assembled the members in the church one Sunday morning, locked them in, sealed all the windows and set fire to the church building, thus killing all the members who were trapped inside. This is only an abridged version of the "Credonia Mwerinde" story. Other types of religious killings were recorded across the country around the same time.

It isn't only in Uganda where people have suffered such tragedies as a result of false prophecies from greedy people. It has happened in so many places all over the world and if care is not taken Ghana will soon witness such tragedy. Today we have so many Credonia Mwerindes (false prophets) scattered all over the country. These prophets who parade themselves as "Men of God" prey on innocent people and extort money from them through their various tricks. They have wrecked a lot of havoc to many homes and families by turning children against parents and siblings against siblings. After leaving countless homes completely broken they have now landed safely into the world of politics with the aim of duping "desperate" politicians. They put fear and terror in the minds of politicians by giving horrifying prophecies with the aim of extorting huge amount of money from them.

One such man of God who has gained a notorious "notoriety", and who nearly plunged Ghana into civil war during the aftermath of the 2012 elections is Rev Owusu Bempah, NPP's Ayatollah (Supreme Religious Leader). This so-called all-seeing and all-knowing man, believed to be the one who prophesied that NPP and Akufo Addo would score a "One-touch" victory in the 2012 elections, has criticised every other prophet except himself. He considers himself as the only prophet ever to live on this earth. Before him there has never been a prophet. Beside him there is none. After him there won't be any. He is the alpha and omega, the first and the last, and the beginning and the end.

But what did we see of all those NPP's one-touch victory prophecies that he made? A humiliating defeat that embarrassed Akufo Addo and shocked many die-hard NPP supporters who then began questioning Owusu Bempa's own credibility! Out of desperation he came back and said it was revealed to him that Akufo Addo would win but there would be some problems. First, he said Akufo Addo would win "one-Touch", it never happened. And secondly he said Akufo Addo would win but there would be problems. That did not happen either. And during the Supreme Court hearing of NPP's petition he came again to predict that improper handling of the NPP petition could bring violence, followed by horrifying prophecies such as ..." there could be violence......, I smell blood....., I see blood everywhere......., I smell this........, I see that......., Blah blah blaah......., Yaw yaw yaaw....." These were so worrying that many people feared that the worst was about to happen. To the contrary, all these prophecies escaped fulfilment.

Early in 2013 Owusu Bempa prophesied that Mahama would die before end of the year. Later in the year, he said Mahama would have 15 years to live. Was he playing Prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah? (2 Kings 20:1-6) Only God knows.

In spite of the non-fulfilment of ayatollah's prophecies, NPP refused to come to the realisation that election was not about pilgrimage or prophecies but about the choice of the people to determine their own fate and destiny by the use of their thumbs. On his way out of the country, some few months after the Supreme Court's verdict, Akufo Addo was asked if he would like to contest the presidential election once more, he replied that he was first going to seek the face of God before he could make a decision. No one was surprised by his decision to abandon the Ghanaian God and go after foreign ones. Perhaps, Rev Ayatollah Caledonia Owusu Bempa on whose prophecies he relied to turn the political table in his favour let him down big time.

From this time on, Owusu Bempa quietly went underground to cover his shame with some occasional appearances and murmurings here and there. Then on 3rd January this year, out of nowhere, he appeared with yet another prophecy that ruined the day for all those who were still celebrating the New Year. His prophecy this time is: "Some people are plotting to kill Nana Addo" (Ghanaweb 03/01/2016). Thank God that he said it was Nana's own closest NPP people who were hatching the plot.

I really don't know whoever will listen to him this time. Perhaps he has still not got the message clearly that he is being regarded as a sheer nuisance, a false prophet, attention seeker and out of touch with his own congregation? In short, he is of no relevance to any "meaningful society" – period. As the party's Ayatollah what he should have done was to expose the so-called plotters of Akufo Addo's assassination rather than beating about the bush.

Though I might not be concerned with whatever happens within a particular party, my real worry is about the rate at which these so-called Men of God conduct themselves both in public and in private. They create unnecessary tensions, and if the government does not take appropriate steps to stop them from making such unwarranted prophecies, they will end up either causing mass killings of their own church members or will end up plunging the nation into a civil war. Ghanaians have not gotten over the tension created by Owusu Bempa's false prophecies over NPP's defeat in the 2012 general elections. He made NPP people believe that elections were rigged, and he now wants to create more tensions. Ghanaians should not allow him.

Soon after the Ugandan massacre, President Museveni admitted that the security forces which were tasked to monitor the activities of the church and other religious cults did not live up to the task due to corruption among some of the officers. From then on he began a rigorous "clamp-down" exercise on those religious cults. And that was too little, too late.

Now, will the Ghanaian authorities wait until we experience such religious catastrophe before they act? The government must act now to save the country from such religious genocide and civil war. We were lucky that it was God's own Divine Providence that averted one in the wake of NPP'S defeat in the 2012 general elections. We may not be lucky this time. By the way, has anybody heard of those who embarked on the road (journey) to Kigali three years ago? We ought to stop them from reaching their destination.

Finally, I would like take this opportunity to warn Rev Owusu Pempa to be extremely careful of these "brutal and savage" NPP people because if he doesn't, they might end up burying him under the very avalanche that he has created. He should remember what happened to Komfo Anokye some centuries ago.

May God be with us all till meet here again.

Joe Ricketts-Arthur