1. After a good and relaxing trip to Mwanza, Tanzania, we returned to Kisumu on the evening of Sunday 22nd.
One startling observation as we joined the highway and approached Ahero was the traffic. Quite heavy. But mostly school buses. Of schools from all over the country.
There is only one person who ensures regular business for school principals who hire out buses and it’s not an election year. ‘Prophet’ Dr. David Owuor.
2. I have always gone public during school holidays, about the inconvenience caused by the Prophet’s three-day crusades especially for road users rushing to get to their destinations on time.
3. On Monday as I drove to the Kisumu Immigration Office to pick my daughter’s passport, I passed outside Acacia Hotel.
The hotel has been decorated, about five police land cruisers full of cops hovering around, and a host of adherents, looking resplendent in their headgear to toe – line dresses for the ladies and suits and ties for the gents gathered at the entrance of the hotel.
4. Went about my business and headed to the airport at about 1 pm. As we drove into the airport, about 300 people had lined up the driveway to the dropping zone. Amazing.
They had come to bid the ‘Prophet’ farewell after what was billed as one of their most successful crusades in recent times.
We parked right outside the departure gate and as I got my luggage out, two cops came to eject us from there because the Prophet’s convoy was getting into the airport. I told him that I am also getting in like the ‘prophet’ is and he should relax.
5. I walked in as the ‘Prophet’ arrived, got out of his car, and walked back to greet the surging crowd that had come to see him off.
The last time I saw this was when Raila returned from abroad at the height of the post-2017 disputed elections or when Uhuru and Ruto returned from The Hague.
I quickly rushed in and got my luggage into the baggage security check. The KAA staff were taking their sweet time while the prophet approached with this huge crowd behind him.
Some chap and I shouted and told them to rush so that we don’t get caught in this chaos.
6. The ‘prophet’ got in, of course, no security checks. He was dressed in his trademark long buttoned down coat, blue in color, brown striped trousers, and some expensive-looking shiny dark brown shoes.
His characteristic unkempt, almost dreadlocked beard stood out, the distinct trademark that gave him that prophetic look, The ladies who were flying with him had entered earlier with us.
He then walked in with burly men (either bodyguards or clergy in the ministry or both ) and he greeted the ladies, about four of them, who were waiting for him. They bowed continuously as he spoke to them and they seemed to be in awe of his presence throughout this period.
They called him “my Lord”. He particularly addressed one lady and mentioned her parents. Macharia or something like that. They then proceeded to the waiting gates. The Prophet went to the VIP lounge with the men and one lady or two.
The other ladies went straight to the gates with the rest of us commoners, but evidently, their boarding passes had been obtained earlier.
7. As we boarded the plane, I sat on seat number 23 A. The ladies were on row 22. Now I could see and hear them clearly. One had an African American accent. Another looked like she just completed high school. But the one who stood out was Bishop Lily Macharia. You could tell she was their leader.
Composed. The rest deferring to her now and then. I quickly recalled a story in the Nairobian where she denied that she was his wife and many other stories about her wealth and service in the ministry. That story came and went. But she was seated in front of me.
This had to be one of the most influential female clergies we do not talk about because she isn’t in a regular, known mainstream or evangelical church or doesn’t have a TV show.
Clearly, only the prophet was to be seen. The rest is to be heard. Today I was seeing and hearing them all!
8. The chap who was with me at the baggage check sat next to me. He asked me: “Who is that guy and who are these ladies?” I responded in amazement: “ Aren’t you resident in Kenya or a Kenyan?” He said “it’s complicated”.
So I gave him a five-minute introduction on the Prophet and his ministry. He then asked me how I know so much about him. I told him that the average Kenyan knows about the Prophet.
He just retorted that he doesn’t like being around popular public figures and proceeded to change his seat.
I felt like he thought I was an undercover member of Owuor’s ministry and he couldn’t sit around us. I placed my newspaper on the empty seat and continued soaking in this unforeseen front-row opportunity that my Anglican upbringing received with eyes wide open!
9. A couple walked into the plane to row 21. A Chinese lady and an Asian looking man. They immediately recognized Bishop Lily and the man stumbled across the seat, almost falling, and went on his knees, clearly elated at being in her presence.
The Bishop, in her calm, cool and collected composure told him that this wasn’t necessary. He told her that maybe he just wants to be at her level as he spoke to her (he was fairly tall) and expressed his joy at being on the same flight as the Prophet.
He then presented the case of the Chinese lady who had traveled all the way because her brother who had completed a prison sentence was about to be charged again and to start a new sentence. She desperately wanted to see the Prophet.
The Bishop promised an appointment. I wanted to tap the Bishop on the shoulder to ask her when they are in Nakuru and check if it coincides with my travel dates. But…..
10. All passengers had boarded the flight except for the prophet and his entourage that were seated in the VIP lounge. Then the prophet emerged from the VIP lounge and began walking slowly towards the plane.
That’s when I noticed that the huge crowd that had lined up to bid him farewell was now at the fence of the airport, like three schools on a joint field trip to the airport. Massive crowd.
The prophet waved at them and walked to the plane with about 5 other men and one lady. The ladies on row 22 took videos of the prophet walking to the plane. The youngest girl was gripped by the fact that the prophet was now entering the plane and couldn’t contain her excitement.
11. I sat back to relax expecting him to sit at the empty business class section. Well, he
sauntered right into economy class and sat somewhere in the 14/15 row.
His men sat around him. The one lady walked to the back. This was totally uncharacteristic of the SUVs, police escort, and locking down hotels that he always does.
As the plane taxied out of the runway, the crowd outside waved excitedly. The row 22 ladies were excited and took photos.
I waited for the pilot to welcome the Prophet onto the flight and say how honored he was to fly him like the Nigerian domestic flight pilot on the flight from Abuja to Lagos did last April when a Governor was sighted on the flight. The Captain welcomed us all.
12. I had gotten so caught up with all this that I almost forgot to send my routine text to family and two close friends that I am aboard KQ 657 to Nairobi with an ETA of 3pm. Did the text quickly. Switched phones to flight mode.
I always pray as the plane takes off. Take off is a moment of divine silence for me. I’ve flown since I was 7 years old but I’ve never gotten over that fear at take off.
As I prayed, I wondered: With the Prophet, the Bishop, and their entourage on this flight, either God was not done with them yet and they still had a lot of preaching and evangelism to do so we will land safely. Or after their successful Kisumu crusade, God may have said that his work is done…..
13. Flight was incident-free. As soon as the Tyres hit the runway, row 22 burst into ululations! Clearly, they must have prayed the same prayer like I did. His work was not done.
14. We disembarked onto a waiting bus to take us to the domestic arrivals. In the bus the Prophet stood somewhere in the middle and was flanked by the men.
I stood near one of the doors with the row 22 ladies and the Prophet immediately asked for the young lady again and praised her work and support.
He directed her to an empty seat and said they saved the seat for her. The lady with an African American accent on seeing this, decided to follow.
But since the Prophet didn’t ask for her, passengers standing in the way didn’t move, she got stuck somewhere in the middle and could only watch her friend basking in the presence of the mighty one. Meanwhile, the prophet made small talk with passengers around him and seemed friendly.
15. We got off the bus to the baggage carousel. Row 22 were with us waiting for luggage.
The prophet walked in, received by what seems to be a KAA staff member who was an adherent and he walked slowly. The Asian man got his attention and the Prophet waved at him.
The man ran towards the prophet and got on his knees and bowed. The prophet muttered something that made the man happy and he stood as the Prophet made his way out.
I was standing next to Bishop Lily Macharia and the other row 22 girls were collecting her suitcases and putting them onto trolleys.
One by one, about four different adherents came to her to thank her for one thing or the other concerning the crusade or meeting the Prophet.
16. Evidently the prophet has organized and well-oiled machinery around him that coordinates his work seamlessly.