Proverbs 28:1 reads, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” This verse is an excellent description of Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the infamous Kenyan televangelist who has been accused of leading his followers to their deaths through bizarre and illegal indoctrination.
Even though he is in the middle of one of the worst religious tragedies in Kenya’s history, he has never been fazed. In fact, he exudes boldness every time he faces cameras, adjusting his frame and embarking on long, guiltless speeches. He seems not to be among the wicked, and one would think that he knows his Bible inside out, including Proverbs 28:1.
Mr Mackenzie has been a preacher since 2003, and he took a hiatus in August 2019, after “The Lord’s voice told me that I had done enough.” His Times TV channel also closed towards the end of that year.
He then left the ministry and started farming in 2020 “like every ordinary Kenyan”. However, his boldness and strange prophecies continue to attract the government’s attention, and he has been arrested several times.
One of Mr Mackenzie’s transgressions is his opposition to education, which saw beleaguered parents seek the government’s intervention to apprehend him and to convince their children to resume schooling.
“I told people education is evil. I was arrested, prosecuted, and I served my sentence. Today I repeat the prophecy to the world. Children are taught gayism and lesbianism,” he recently said.
The pastor rubbed the government the wrong way again when he claimed that Huduma Namba, an identification number introduced in 2019, was the mark of the beast.
Worshippers from his Good News International Church gave testimonies of seeing, in late-night visions, the mark of the beast way before Huduma Namba’s introduction. Mr Mackenzie was quickly arrested, but he insisted he was right.
The infamous pastor’s boldness is surprising, considering that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations detectives have exhumed not less than 58 bodies from a graveyard in which his followers were buried in Shakahola, Kilifi County.
In an interview that followed the discovery of the Shakahola graves, Mr Mackenzie, appearing happy with himself, intermittently burst into a guttural laugh when he made claims about a clash between law and faith. He insisted that he was facing persecution from the government because “(The Apostle) Paul said that the law and faith will fight forever, which is a fight of the body (law) and spirit (faith).”