MALAWIAN President Bingu wa Mutharika’s death on Good Friday was being hailed as a morbid vindication of a “prophecy” by a controversial Nigerian preacher.
Prophet TB Joshua has previously claimed credit for predicting major international events from Michael Jackson’s death to the Zambian national team’s unlikely Africa Cup of Nations triumph in February.
But even TB Joshua’s legion of internet watchers admit that none of his previous predictions were as pointed as his prophecy on February 5 this year – during a Sunday service at his Synagogue Church of All Saints – that an African President would die in the month of April.
On that day, TB Joshua first predicted that 1,000 people would perish in a ferry accident on the shores of an African nation on April 16. He did not say where the accident would happen, but feared there is nothing that could be done as “it is too close”.
“I’m going to ask God to show me the direction, the route where this ferry is going,” he told his followers.
Then suddenly, TB Joshua made a second bold prediction on which he staked his growing reputation across Africa as a man who can see into the future.
He went on: “I was talking about April, we should pray for the nation, this country… God loves us, you should pray for one African head of state, when I say President… again the sickness that is likely to take life; sudden death.
“It could be sickness being in the body for a long time but God showed me the country and the place but I’m not here to say anything like that. When it’s too close and there is nothing I can do about it, I’ll mention it clear: the place, the country and the person so that they can see what they can do to rescue him.
“It is very close. Jesus loves us. Wave your hand, wave your hand.”
The “prophecy” sparked speculation across Africa, with many opposition parties taking ownership of the prophesy to suggest the Presidents of their countries were about to die.
In Zimbabwe, opposition activists were sure it was President Robert Mugabe, 88 this year. The speculation forced his Zanu PF party to deny TB Joshua was referring to their leader, who has held power since 1980.
TB Joshua returned to the theme again at his Sunday service on April 1, warning that God had showed him “everything” – which begs the question: what happened to his promise of “mentioning it clear... so they can see what they can do to rescue him?”
He told followers: “What I was saying is very close now, you want to hear more, and it’s very, very close now. Whether you like it or not, this is what I’ve seen.
“Pray for a leader. Well, God showed me everything but I’m praying to see if this thing can be changed. Pray for your leader, the head of a nation. I’m seeing a sudden death; this is as a result of sickness.
“Quote me, but the Lord showed me the country and the person but I’m not here to mention anything but when it is very close, I will mention but right now it’s a bit close.
“Every time you pray, pray for Africa, so pray; this is not even in West Africa but I will not say anything more than that.”
Reports from Malawi say Thursday began like any other day for Mutharika, who collapsed during a meeting with an MP, apparently after suffering a heart failure.
Mutharika was rushed to a hospital in Lilongwe, but was “clinically dead” on arrival, according to doctors.
Confirmation of his death – and TB Joshua’s prophesy – came on Good Friday.