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TB Joshua: A Time To Come And A Time To Leave!

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The Nigerian popular televangelist, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as TB Joshua, the founder of the Lagos-based Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) died over the weekend in Lagos. Prophet Joshua was said to have conducted an evening service in his church and was on his way to the hospital when he died. He was said to have fallen sick two days prior. His 58th birthday was billed for June 12. His megachurch runs the popular Emmanuel TV from Lagos and viewed worldwide. Prophet Joshua was born on June 12, 1963. He hailed from Arigidi Akoko, in Akoko North West Area of Ondo State. He was married and had three children.

According to the widow, Evelyn Joshua, however, the man of miracle had spent about three long hours on the ‘mountain’ praying before mounting the pulpit for the evening worship. Ministering the gospel to the faithful the Prophet spoke prophetically about a time to come and a time to leave. And suddenly he took his leave retreating to his inner chambers.

As the woman, according to her narrative, waited for some time for her husband to re-emerge to continue the service she decided to check on him. Lo and behold she met the famous Prophet sitting on the chair like someone reflecting but unconscious! Efforts to revive him proved abortive.

It would seem that Prophet Joshua had a premonition of the grim reaper lurking by the corner going by the trending video in which he had exhorted his members to mark his upcoming birthday by praying and fasting. He had these to say: “As things stand, you may have realised it will not be easy for me to celebrate my birthday under the present circumstances. Some of the people who want to come are troubled by the situation all over the world. We see their fear and their worry. I feel their pain; I feel their worry…. Therefore, let us dedicate this day to prayer and fasting. Don’t forget the needy. By the grace of God, more birthdays are ahead. God bless you!”

According to some online reports some soldiers and other security agents had laid siege to the Synagogue edifice as if something was wrong somewhere. They were said to have molested journalists, preventing people from getting inside the temple of God. Nigeria and her security elements never ceased to amaze the outside world with their unprofessional work ethics. Why preventing legitimate people from getting into Synagogue? Or was there a search warrant or fears of looting following Joshua’s sudden demise?

Prophet TB Joshua rose from a poor parental background to become a great man. He touched lives, he empowered lives. He was controversial yet an enigma. In a nation where pentecostalism has become a billion-dollar-spinning ‘business’ Joshua made name and money for himself building the Synagogue to become one of the greatest christian organizations in Nigeria and Africa. His followers cut across regions and countries.

Scenes of melancholy could be seen on video online as his followers mourned his untimely passage to the great beyond. Men and women, old and young, were seen shedding tears and asking questions over their welfare since their benevolent ‘breadwinner’ had died. Some were even imploring God to take their lives instead and bring back Joshua!

But regrettably the stunning biblical Lazarus miracle is no longer possible in our generation post-Jesus. No mortal can boast of possessing the power wielded by Jesus the Christ when he raised the dead and buried Lazarus, his friend, from the grave. So Joshua is gone for good, never to return in flesh and blood. To those weeping we ask them to take solace in his good deeds and generosity while he lived. His pentecostal legacy would definitely outlive him from generation to generation.

The general effusion of grief towards the late prophet demonstrated his popularity and the impact he had had on the society. Yet he never endeared himself to many people in Nigeria and outside our shores. At home he was banned from membership of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). And from Kampala, Uganda came the news that the Pastor of the Christian Life Church, Jackson Senyonga, was celebrating Joshua’s death! He described him as the “biggest witch in Africa”!

Nigeria boasts of great flamboyant men of God — Bishops, Prophets, Apostles and Pastors — the Oyedepos, Okonkwos, Adeboyes, Kumuyis, Sulemans, Enenches, Oyakhilomes etc. But unlike most of these rich and material-conscious ‘servants’ of God Joshua was different in many ways. He was stupendously rich yet he lived a normal life devoid of bigmanism. He was munificient and philanthropic.

While his peers were busy buying limousines and private jets he was content living modestly. Though he possessed the financial resources to indulge in such luxurious lifestyle or fantasy he decided to be himself believing in the vanity of material possessions here on earth. Perhaps that was why he was hated by his pentecostal peers.

Read also: [OPINION] Who offended Buhari? Twitter or Nigerians?

When he began his ministry flaks and fireworks followed almost immediately because of his unconventional methods and tactics. He started off as a man of God of questionable credibility and source of spiritual power. But he ended up convincing millions of Nigerians and non-Nigerians of his healing and deliverance powers.

Prophet Joshua courted controversy as he set his eyes on the bigger picture. He began rough and tough! His physical attribute, heavily-bearded and eagle-eyed, was not only intimidating but his manner of deliverance raised questions about his possible involvement in occultism or sorcery. Initially he was alleged to have been using alligator pepper and other traditional instruments to drive away demonic spirits. He did many miracles and predicted events of the future. Some of these predictions hit their marks while others fell by the way side.

In the Holy Book we, as Christians, are admonished against proclaiming or reaching judgement on anyone since the ultimate judgement belongs to the heavenly hosts. But we dare say here that Joshua had this myth about his personality and evangelism that was as perplexing as it was interrogatory. Doubts about his staying spiritual power and his modest academic profile persisted for years even as the membership of Synagogue multiplied.

Many years ago (precisely in 1996) the late Prophet was arrested for drug peddling in Lagos by the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and detained for two weeks. It later turned out to be false accusation as nothing incriminating was found on him or inside his church or home.

On 12 September, 2014, a guesthouse collapsed in the SCOAN’s premises in Lagos killing at least 115 people! 84 of those that perished were South Africans. This tragedy led many into believing that a blood sacrifice could have been the cause of it all! It was not the first time a building under construction had collapsed in Lagos or elsewhere in Nigeria. But what made the Synagogue building collapse more controversial was the large number of foreign victims. Litigation followed and Prophet Joshua survived the storm.

Many Nigerians outside the Synagogue family may not have known that TB Joshua’s birthday is on June 12. A greater event unfolded on June 12 1993 and it must have overshadowed the late Prophet’s birthday. On that historic day of June, the 12th, democracy was gloriously born in Nigeria but was murdered by a military gang led by Generals Ibrahim Babangida and the late Sani Abacha.

Now that another June 12 is imminently upon us we must, given the Buharian slow but steady loading absolutism, return to the trenches to defend democracy in our country. Bashorun MKO Abiola could not have died in vain while trying to actualize ‘Hope-93’.

As for Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua the parting word is instructive for us, the living: ‘A time to come and a time to leave’! That is the portion of every living carnivorous and omnivorous animal. From the cradle to the grave remains till eternity our existential reality. Prophet Joshua came, he saw and he conquered.

Fare thee well, Prophet. We grieve for you!

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

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Grammys add new categories, including songwriter of the year

The Grammys are adding a special song for social change award and five new categories including songwriter of the year, giving the Recording Academy an avenue to honor music’s best composer.

The academy announced Thursday that the new non-classical songwriter category will recognize one individual who was the “most prolific” non-performing and non-producing songwriter for a body of new work during an eligibility year. The category is taking a different approach than song of the year, which awards the songwriter or songwriters who wrote the lyrics or melodies to one song.

“This new category is truly for an expert person at the songwriting craft,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr told The Associated Press. Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs in which they are credited “solely” as a songwriter or co-writer.

“Somebody who writes their own music and records it would not be eligible,” he said. “They would have to be doing songs for others. We want to highlight the craft of writing songs professionally for artists.”

“Songwriters are at the heart of our business and industry,” he said. “Nothing happens without songwriters. For us, this was a no brainer. It’s in alignment with all the changes. We thought, ‘How can we do more? Showcase more people and be more inclusive to different genres?’”

The new category is another huge step for songwriters. Last year, a rule update allowed that any songwriter, producer, engineer or featured artist on an album nominated for album of the year could ultimately earn a nomination.

The four other categories include best spoken word poetry album, alternative music performance, Americana music performance and score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media.

The academy created a special merit award that determines best song for social change. The award will be based on lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue and promotes “understanding, peacebuilding and empathy.”

“It’s always the right time to recognize music that’s changing the world,” he said. “I think it deserves a special recognition. These songs are important and impactful. We want to make sure we’re honoring and celebrating that artform. This is a great way to do that.”

Mason said it was yearlong process of accepting proposals to make changes, additions and updates from music creators and professionals that make up the membership body.

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp

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Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee kicks off with pomp

Four days of celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne got underway Thursday with a display of British military traditions stretching from the days of horse and cannon to the jet age.

Formal celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee began with Trooping the Color, an annual military review that has marked the sovereign’s official birthday since 1760. The queen is expected to join the working members of her family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace at the end of the event, when 70 aircraft are set to roar overhead.

The jubilee is being commemorated with a four-day holiday weekend. The celebration of Elizabeth’s reign includes a service of thanksgiving Friday at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a concert at Buckingham Palace on Saturday and a pageant staged by thousands of performers drawn from schools and community groups around the country on Sunday afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, neighborhood organizations and individuals are expected to hold thousands of street parties around the country, repeating a tradition that began with the queen’s coronation in 1953.

The 96-year-old queen is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne. The jubilee is giving many people — even those often indifferent to the monarchy — a chance to reflect on the state of the nation and the huge changes that have taken place during her reign.

Former Prime Minister John Major — one of the 14 prime ministers of the queen’s reign — said the monarch’s stoic presence had helped steer the country over the decades,

“The queen has represented our better selves for over 70 years,” he told the BBC.

In a written jubilee message, the queen thanked people in Britain and across the Commonwealth involved in organizing the celebrations. For many, the occasion is the first opportunity for a big bash since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than two years ago.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” Elizabeth said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70 years, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm,” she said.

Congratulations arrived from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron called Elizabeth “the golden thread that binds our two countries” and one of “very few constants” on the international stage.

“You are our friend, such a close ally, our example of service to others,” Macron told the queen in an English-language video message.

The name of the long weekend’s first event, Trooping the Color, refers to a regimental flag, or “color,” that is trooped through the ranks. Britain’s annual tradition for the queen’s birthday is a ceremonial reenactment of the way battle flags were once shown to soldiers to make sure they would recognize a crucial rallying point if they became disoriented in combat.

The troops taking part come from the army’s Household Division, composed of the seven regiments that perform ceremonial duties for the queen. Their members are fully trained soldiers and often deployed overseas when not on ceremonial duty.

Each year a different unit has the honor of trooping its color. The 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards will have the spotlight during the Platinum Jubilee.

Thousands of people, some of whom camped overnight, lined the parade route — many of them sporting Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras.

Carly Martin, who caught a late-night bus from south London with her daughter, said she had come “to make memories.”

“You’re never going to see this again in your lifetime,” she said. “At least not in mine, maybe not in my daughter’s. … Seventy years — it is all I have ever known.”

Several protesters were arrested after getting past barriers and onto the parade route. The group Animal Rebellion claimed responsibility, saying the protesters were “demanding that royal land is reclaimed.”

Cheers and the clop of hooves rang out as horse-drawn carriages carried members of the royal family, including Prince William’s wife, Kate, and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, a ceremonial parade ground about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away.

The queen is expected to appear twice on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, but Prince Charles is playing play a key role during the event. Mounted on horseback, he will take the salute from ranks of scarlet-clad Guards on his mother’s behalf, along with his sister, Princess Anne, and his son Prince William.

Elizabeth has had trouble getting around of late, and her courtiers have been careful to keep make things as simple for her as possible.

Senior royals including Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, traveled in carriages to watch the ceremony from a building overlooking the parade ground.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join other royals to watch the spectacle. Harry and Meghan have traveled from their home in California to take part in the celebrations.

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Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal

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Buhari congratulates Bishop Okpaleke on appointment as Pope’s Cardinal

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Wednesday expressed happiness over the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke of Ekwulobia Diocese, Anambra State, as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.

In a statement signed late Wednesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari commended the Pope for finding a capable Nigerian in the person of Bishop Okpaleke to be one of the two nominees from the African continent.

The statement is titled ‘President Buhari welcomes appointment of Bishop Okpaleke as 4th cardinal from Nigeria.’

According to Shehu, President Buhari also “congratulated the Nigerian Christian Community on this choice, describing the Cardinal-designate as ably qualified, and that having him in that position will benefit the country.”

The statement partly read, “The President also commended the commitment of the Catholic Church to the unity, peace, and progress of the Nigerian state. He also highlighted the effort of the Church in combating the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its support and commitment in favour of the poor and most vulnerable members of the society.”

Bishop Okpaleke becomes the fourth Cardinal from Nigeria. Others before him are Francis Arinze, Anthony Okogie and John Onaiyekan. He is among the 21 new Cardinals Pope Francis announced on May 29.

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