Johannesburg - Nigerian pastor TB Joshua was not only a mega-televangelist in his home country, but also one of the most influential evangelists on the African continent who also made a huge impact globally.
According to Al Jazeera, Joshua, 57, who died on Saturday, was the church leader of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) and drew more than 15 000 people from Nigeria and abroad to attend his Sunday services.
Despite various controversies, with the most notable one being in 2014 when one of his church buildings collapsed and killed 116 people, Joshua escaped charges and continued to grow in status.
The BBC reported Joshua, born on June 12, 1963, came from a poor background and was raised by a Muslim uncle after the death of his Christian father.
He rose to prominence in the 1990s and was known for his claims to cure various diseases and perform miracles, but was ostracised by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), who called him an “impostor”.
Joshua’s “miracles” were no different than other televangelists’, except he opted to not be part of the PFN and CAN clique, and instead founded Scoan, which ran on the Emmanuel TV satellite station.
“He was rough. He was crude. His methods were unorthodox,” Abimbola Adelakun, assistant professor in the African Studies Department at the University of Texas, told the BBC.
He grew his net worth to around $150million, according to Glusea, a website which ranks the net worth of celebrities. Joshua owned a fleet of luxury cars and added a private jet to his collection, yet he remained an outsider.
In 2004, Joshua’s TV services stopped airing live after Nigeria’s national broadcasting regulator banned television stations from showing programmes of pastors performing miracles unless they had been verified.
He believed it was a plot by rival pastors, but this led him to launch his satellite station, Emmanuel TV, which could be shown on free-to-air satellite boxes throughout Africa and internationally.
“He was perhaps the first to utilise the internet and satellite broadcast to sell his ministry to an international audience,” said Adelakun.
This helped him gain international fame. He later took full advantage of social media, where he gained millions more followers.