Evangelical churches thrive in Africa and also Kenya isn’t left behind. And some make their money from capitalizing on other people’s faith.
On this Sunday morning in Kinshasa, the city’s usually bustling streets are nearly deserted. Since dawn, tens of thousands of people have been streaming into the country’s national stadium.
They’re not here for a soccer match or a concert. The 80,000 attendees have come to see a man they believe performs miracles.
“We believe in the prophet Khonde’s miracles. I was dying, but then I drank a glass of his miracle juice and my pain disappeared immediately. I’m living proof. He’s a prophet.”
There are camera crews, photographers, cheerleaders, and lots of police. It’s one of the biggest events of the year. It’s even being broadcast live on television.
Dominique Khonde is the man everyone is waiting for. The self- proclaimed prophet has several million followers. When he enters the stadium, the crowd erupts.
Before he goes on stage, he greets former Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala. The wife of former President Joseph Kabila is also in the audience.
After a few prayers and songs, he begins to preach. “They don’t want you to succeed or live in abundance, prosperity and wealth. But even in poverty, even when you are hungry or ill? You’ll have everything as long as you realize the truth. Amen. Fear not. Amen.”
Dominique Khonde’s business model involves a supposed miracle cure that he peddles across the country. But not here, out in the open. Instead, he sells it discretely in small rural communities. The business has already earned him several million dollars.
A few days later, we accompany Khonde to Matete, a Kinshasa suburb. Outside the church, more than a hundred of his followers are waiting.
“The prophet told me to stop spending money on doctors. He told me to drink the juice and pray,” says his follower.
At 11 o’clock, Dominique Khonde arrives in his luxury car. His followers have all come for some of his supposed miracle cure.
But first the prophet wants a donation. Consultations usually only last seconds.
“You need to take the juice. The prescription is always the same. Are you taking the juice? Yes. -Good, keep taking it,” Prophet tells one of his followers.
After speaking to the prophet, the sick people are sent next door, to the pharmacy. This is where they get the famous juice. No one here doubts its healing powers.
“It cures AIDS, stomach pain, liver cancer, cirrhosis, all kinds of diseases… I had AIDS and lost a lot of weight. Now I weigh 52 kilos, thanks to the juice from the prophet Dominique Khonde. He healed me.” One follower claims.
There’s no science behind the juice, but many people blindly trust it. A half-liter costs the equivalent of Ksh 1,850 about a third of the average monthly salary.
Three of us pooled our money and we’re going to share a bottle.
There’s a strong smell of gasoline in the room.
“There’s lemon juice in it, gasoline and some other ingredients,” one of his followers said.
Right now the juice is bottled on-site, but demand is so high that soon Khonde will begin producing it in a factory.
According to the packaging, the juice cures epilepsy, cancer and even AIDS. The active ingredient?
“Divine enlightenment. This product treats illnesses with different causes, such as epilepsy, cancer and so on,” the prophet added.
It says it cures AIDS, but he didn’t read that.
“No, we haven’t tried it with AIDS much, Prophet says.
More than half a million Congolese are HIV-positive.
Another supposed benefit of the miracle cure: it can bring children back from the dead.
“Some people have applied the juice to their still-born babies, and they’ve woken up again. A juice that can cure AIDS and bring the dead back to life,” The Prophet claims
Congolese authorities don’t stop him from selling tens of thousands of bottles of his gasoline-lemon mixture every year.
While his assistants count the day’s earnings, most Congolese people continue their daily struggle against poverty. The road to becoming a millionaire legitimately is long and hard. That’s why some take shortcuts.
This was revealed by a documentary, The life of the super-rich in Central Africa | DW Documentary