I watched the three-part BBC documentary on TB Joshua and I was not at all surprised by it.
A few minutes into the film, my thought was – are these not disgruntled disciples chased out of the Synagogue after TB Joshua died? The ones that were reported to have carted away huge sums of money in Ghana-must-go bags?
Apparently not, most were survivors, women TB Joshua was alleged to have sexually violated.
I have always suspected that TB Joshua was not who he said he was. He has now been exposed as a cult leader masquerading as a pastor with humongous wealth to boot. Like all cult leaders past and present, sex is always a big part of the equation.
But I am not the only one who suspected he was a con. Millions of us Nigerians had known this from the get-go. Those of us who didn’t get “caught” were the ones who watched him for a spell and tuned off before we got hypnotised. The women in the documentary didn’t know this and they got badly burned.
They fell for his media outreach; one skewered to lure and keep; one tinkered to hold you spellbound and mess with your head because what you see is not what you will get.
Most of us did not allow the sight of the throngs of people, especially world leaders, and celebrities that flocked to Synagogue to deceive us into thinking TB Joshua was real. The more we saw them, the more we pitied them and after vainly trying to convince them he was a charlatan, we simply sat back and watched.
TB Joshua got one thing for real though, the power of the media. He knew early on that the media was a tool that could be used to change a narrative, turn a story around and persuade the audience.
But genius or con man or rapist, TB Joshua is dead and cannot answer to any of the crimes he is said to have committed. He is now accountable only to a Higher Power; the one we will all answer to someday.
But my business today is with his wife, Evelyn Joshua, a mother of three daughters.
My heart bled as I watched Rae, Jessica, Loulita, Chloe, Anneka, Sihile and Bisola, women who had been sexually abused from a young age by TB Joshua recount how they got lured into the Synagogue from watching it on TV and how TB Joshua raped them over the years. Some were as young as 17 years when the assaults began.
Now, I want to believe Evelyn Joshua has plans to reach out to these women, not to answer for her husband’s crimes but to help them find closure of some sort.
I say this because none of the interviewees, men and women, ever said that Evelyn Joshua was aware of what was happening in the church. She was said to have been sequestered in some other area of the Synagogue with her daughters, I imagine. She did not live with her husband, did not take part in the day-to-day running of the church nor did she have anything significant to do in the church.
But for 14 years, she didn’t know?
For over 10 years, she didn’t hear rumours?
For over 10 years, she had no inkling of the atrocities her husband was committing against these women, the abortions, the demands on their time, or the hypnotism they were subjected to?
Evelyn did not know?
Not possible. Walls have ears. How could she have been married to a man she is now celebrating as the best human being and yet was totally ignorant of the fact that he had for several years been sleeping with virgins “supplied” by one of his former cronies, tuned informant, Bisola?
How can Evelyn claim she did not know her husband was a serial rapist?
That he often doused his penis with honey…for what?
That he often went to ori oke (Prayer Mountain) to perform sacrifices as many Babalawos do?
Nah, Evelyn must have known something.
But here’s the thing.
Maybe she herself was also a victim? Maybe her daughters, too, were; given the fact that TB Joshua was painted a monster to his own flesh and blood. Did you listen to Ajoke, TB Joshua’s daughter from another woman?
Ajoke’s story is painful because rather than acknowledge her as a child born out of wedlock, Ajoke was subjected to live like a slave in her father’s “kingdom.” She had no share in his wealth as the daughter of the lead Babalawo in Synagogue. She, however, from her eloquence must have benefitted from some form of quality education.
Ajoke was the one who confronted her father and called him out as a charlatan and serial rapist based on what she had heard from loud whisperings within Synagogue’s walls. For this, Ajoke got the beating of her life from TB and other disciples who knew she told the truth.
So I get that Evelyn might have wondered how the same disciples who joined hands to beat Ajoke were also coming out to say they had been raped. Evelyn may also have considered that she could not now begin to say the father of her daughters was a monster, I mean, what would the in-laws say?
She cannot even begin to say that she was also abused considering that she is currently enjoying the proceeds of her husband’s ministry and tell me, who wants to be head of a crumbling empire?
Here’s hoping that Evelyn will not join those who are denouncing the women who have come forth and alleged abuse. The decent thing to do…assuming she is not involved in her own cult of barbaric act, is to reach out.
A letter, a phone call, maybe even for the sake of people like us who will not stop talking, a newspaper ad…anything, something to say, “Woman to woman, as a mother of young women, too, I am sorry this happened to you, I hope you heal from this.”
But maybe she will not mend fences. Maybe it’ll be “survivors be damned,” and like Rehoboam reminded the Israelites after his father’s death in 1 Kings 12:11, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”
We wait to see Evelyn Joshua’s next move.