When Ugandan Prophecy Fails

Back to Uganda, where local media are raising the issue of a failed prophecy from megachurch pastor Robert Kayanja. Here’s what he was reported as saying last year, when discussing the upcoming Ugandan elections on TV:

“It was so clear to me. We shall have five presidential candidates; one will die, one will quit, three will remain…And it will be 61.8 percent for the winner.”

But here’s how last week’s election actually turned out:

Mr Museveni won 59% of the vote while main rival Kizza Besigye took 37%, the Electoral Commission said…Three other candidates had shared just over 3% of ballots cast.

Something about this reminds one of Pat Robertson’s infamous prophecy that the 2004 US election would be a “blowout” in favour of Bush…Kayanja is currently out of the country and unavailable for comment; however, a Kayanja ally explained one of the discrepancies to the Kampala Monitor (via AllAfrica, link added):

Mr Peter Mutebi, a theologian and pastor at Bugolobi Evangelical Church, said the failure of the prophecy “does not necessarily discredit the prophet”. He said that within the born-again Christian community, when a prophecy about death is made, Christians pray that it does not come to pass… The concept of prophecy, said Mutebi, is often misunderstood in contemporary society because “all prophetic messages come out as a warning” that may not come to pass. The failed death prophecy, he suggested, was a case of clemency from God.

Mutebi pointed to the Biblical stories of Jonah’s prophecy against Ninevah and the illness of King Hezekiah as precedents.

 Those who might want to use Kayanja’s failed prophecy against him, though, ought to be careful. Here’s what he told Charisma magazine back in 2002:

“A witch who challenged me [in 1983] said I would be dead in three days,” Kayanja said. “Instead, the witch died. They found his body in the middle of the road, his severed head lying on the roadside. His family came and took his body, and they moved away.”

Kayanja said that the night before, he had had a dream in which God handed him a sword to fight the enemy. When Kayanja saw the witch’s severed head, he knew that God “had dealt with this man,” he said.

He also purportedly had better luck with a political prophecy during a trip to Kenya, as Masscom Online claims:

In November [2005] while addressing a big crowd in Nairobi pastor Robert Kayanja that there would be a very big political shakeup in Kenya and a mild earthquake before Christmas in East Africa. Believe it or not both of those prophecies happened. The political shakeup happened just recently when Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki sacked all his Cabinet ministers following the winning of the referendum by the opposition.

Kayanja claims that 2.2 million Ugandans have been converted by his crusades, and that he has cured people of AIDS. He is also close to Paul Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and earlier this month it was announced that TBN, Kayanja and Museveni were working together to bring the movie industry to Uganda:

…Through Mr. Kayanja, Mr. Matthew Crouch [son of Paul] was invited to Kampala and held discussions with President Yoweri Museveni in November last year. Mr. Museveni is said to have given TBN a go-ahead and was consulting with Uganda’s Attorney General on modalities of legislation on the movie industry in Uganda.

“The president told Mr. Crouch that Uganda was well suited for any type of movie because of its variety of climatic conditions and terrain. Uganda is well endowed with hills, valleys, savanna, woodland, lakes, snow-capped mountains, thick forests, rivers, rapids and almost semi-desert conditions,” pastor Kayanja told Business Week at his Kampala office…

Kayanja is also a strong supporter of Museveni and the First Lady, who have both attended events connected with Kayanja’s churches, such as this one, as reported by East African Procurement News in 2004:

PASTOR Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral had no ordinary parishioners on Sunday.

He hosted President Yoweri Museveni and his family and also donated Ush25m to the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), which is patroned by Mrs. Janet Museveni.

This was at the church’s dedication ceremony, at which the President and his wife were the chief guests.

The President gave the church 100 cows from one of his farms. He said he got the cows either as gifts from people or purchases from peasants in order to enable them pay up their loans.

The 10, 500-seater church, believed to be the biggest of its kind in East Africa, has 1,216 other branches within the great lakes region. Pastor Kayanja said he got a vision to build the church in 1985, times when Uganda was very insecure.

[The President] said it is better for the young to come and dance in church instead of going out into the world and dancing ekimansulo (provocative nude dancing taking root in Uganda).

The report included this odd detail:

…Pastor Kayanja got a US$750,000 donation from a Korean Buddhist lady whom he prayed for to get out of a coma.

Just before the election, the New Vision Online reported from Museveni’s final rally:

We have already won this election, Museveni declared, echoing statements by Kigongo, Mbabazi, the Rev. Betungura and Pastor Robert Kayanja, who prayed for and blessed him.

On his website, Kayanja describes the American Pentecostal evangelist TL Osborn as his “spiritual father”, and tells us that Osborn had given him a car.