Ever since news broke that Bushiri, the popular Prophet of the Enlightened Christian Gathering, has been arrested in relation to fraud charges,social media has been rife with people giving their opinions,both pro and anti Bushiri and his church.

Though Bushiri's publicly exorbitant lifestyle was the reason he caught my attention,the question that has always lingered at the back of the mind was why he and his church were so popular amongst the southern African populace. It always amazed me how his congregation were ok with his flashy lifestyle,a lifestyle built from their own pockets through the money they gave to him in the form of tithes etc.As a result of this lingering wonderment,i finally decided to watch one of his services to try understand the reason for his popularity and after i watched that service,i honestly understood.

Bushiri's congregation and supporters mainly comprises of lower middle class people and life for the middle class anywhere,especially in Africa,is most of the time gloomy. Unemployment ,sicknesses, poverty and a general poor quality of life are rife among most of the populace in southern Africa. Lower middle class population go through their daily lives just trying to scrape enough to make a living and trying to recover from terminal diseases. They seldom have any good days and that builds desperation and longing for some good news and Bushiri offers exactly that.

If religion was considered a business, one would say that Bushiri found a niche in southern Africa in the form of desperation amongst the lower middle class and exploited this niche to create a very successful enterprise. With his charismatic personality and impeccable oration, Bushiri gives his followers hope in a place and time where there is virtually none for the aforementioned group of the population and that is one of the reasons he managed to amass such an incredibly large and loyal following.

Instead of going to a traditional Christian church where they would have to sit through seemingly infinite hours of praising and worshiping and still go back home to poverty and other ever-present life struggles, Bushiri's congregation get the chance to witness,in the form of his prophesies and testimonies from his congregation, a light at the end of the tunnel. When they see their fellow Bushiri followers testifying about how their lives have transformed miraculously as a result of Bushiri,they also get the hope that one day, if they keep following prophet Bushiri,they will also stand on that Enlightened Christian Gathering stage and share with the world how their lives have changed.

This desperation for a better life is the reason the congregation will not think twice about lining up their prophet's pockets with their hard earned money. This desperation for a better life is the reason why his followers will defend him under whichever circumstance. This desperation for a better life is the reason his followers aimlessly rally behind him regardless of how absurd looking some of his methods of evangelism are. His followers will always meticulously follow him because they view him as their solace and source of hope in a life marred by terrible circumstances.

I am in no position to say Bushiri is a false "prophet" or not because of the simple reason that i do not know. What i know, however, is that desperation for a better quality of life in people breeds extremist cultism. People who have been longing for good news for a long time will follow anyone who gives them these news or a glimmer of hope thereof,as historically attested by Adolf Hitler and his rise in popularity in Nazi Germany. Lower middle class population are always the ones susceptible to engaging and following radical cultism because of a longing for a better quality of life.

Religion is a very complex and subjective issue because what you believe in may be absurd to some other person just like you can find what other people believe in to be absurd. We should not be quick to call out how stupid and gullible Bushiri's followers are for believing and rallying behind him but instead focus on what drives people to follow him and his church. We must address how poor the quality of life for the lower middle class populations in southern Africa is for them to resort to being avid followers of these churches which seem to be sprouting everywhere as of late. As long those underlying issues are not addressed,there will continue to be more Bushiris.