JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
EMMANUEL Nyirongo, who died last Sunday in a road accident in Kitwe, aged 30, was a clergy as well as a singer who produced some well-known songs.
As a musician, Prophet Nyirongo earned himself many accolades for some popular songs such as Kutali Mwamfumya Ine, but as a prophet, he probably attracted as many followers as he did critics, who did not believe in his so-called miracles.
His claims of healings and miracles turned him into a somewhat controversial figure, and he earned himself many critics.
â€œEmmanuel has always been controversial, but he believed in his God and he died believing,â€ says his brother, Masuzgyo.
And it was his claim in June that he had miraculously turned water into kerosene that cast the brightest spotlight on the Kitwe prophet.
In one video posted on the internet, Prophet Nyirongo can be seen praying over several containers of what looks like water which is later poured into a glass and ignited, much to the amazement of his followers.
Following that â€œmiracleâ€, there was a barrage of postings on social media by people making ridiculous claims which they attributed to the prophet, obviously in a mocking manner.
â€œKitwe Prophet to turn Nkana Football Club into Manchester Unitedâ€ and â€œKitwe Prophet to turn Kwacha into dollar,â€ were some of the most ridiculous postings.
But Prophet Nyirongo never responded to his critics.
â€œEven Jesus the Son of God went through the same,â€ says Prophet Anointed Andrew, who was his mentor.
Although Prophet Andrew admits that it is difficult to tell a false prophet from a true one, he says Prophet Nyirongo was a true prophet of God, who performed his miracles with proof.
He describes the charismatic clergyman as â€œmy heroâ€.
â€œHe knew how to love people,â€ he says.
On September 16, he posted: â€œLately, God has been strongly speaking to me to go and preach and sing in nightclubs, brothels and to street sex workers. (Anywhere sinners gather). I strongly resisted this as I knew that people would condemn as they always do.
â€œHowever, the visions I saw in the night have left me with no option but to obey. Consider Matthew 9:11â€¦when the Pharisees saw this, they asked the disciples â€˜Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?â€™ Beloved, if Jesus was to come today, He wouldnâ€™t wait for people to attend his services or overnights, rather he would follow them like He followed the Samaritan woman.
â€œJesus said â€˜go into the world and preachâ€™. He didnâ€™t say wait for the world to attend your conference or services. No! From today, in case you hear that someone saw me at a place you donâ€™t expect me to be, please donâ€™t defend me. The purpose is clear. Iâ€™m taking church to the world. Thanks. Dr Prophet Emmanuel Nyirongo.â€
Chris Mkandawire, who pastors a church called Apostolic Faith Mission in Chipata, Eastern Province, worked closely with Pastor Nyirongo in the formative days.
The two first met at a conference organised by the Victory Bible Church in Kitwe in 2001.
â€œWhat drew me to him was the gift of prophecy and the calling on his life,â€ he says. â€œHe was very young, but he was able to draw people to himself.â€
Prophet Nyirongo was born on December 16, 1985 in Kitwe to Netson Nyirongo, who was a banker, and Christine Chulumanda. He was the second-born in a family of four.
As a young boy, Emmanuel is described as a cool boy who kept to himself.
â€œEmmanuel would not talk unless you provoked him,â€ says his younger brother, Masuzgyo.
He also loved to play soccer and would end up playing in an academy. At that time, many believed the left-footer would one day wear the national jersey.
â€œMost of us thought he would become a soccer player,â€ says Masuzgyo.
But the young Emmanuel had his eyes set on something different, and when he went to secondary school, he began to preach.
His gift and passion to preach was soon recognised by his teacher, who would usually call on him to pray or preach in class or assembly hall.
But his parents would not entertain the thought of their child becoming a preacher.
â€œAs a family, we did not entirely support his decision to go into ministry,â€ says Masuzgyo.
But he adds that his brother was very determined to become a clergy and defied any attempts by his father to stop him.
According to Masuzgyo, Emmanuel would usually sneak from his parentâ€™s house to go and attend all-night prayer meetings.
After completing his secondary school education in 2004, Emmanuel began a small fellowship which met at a school in Kitwe. One of the people who attended the fellowship was his girlfriend, Situmbeko, who would later become his wife.
His music talent helped to propel him into the limelight in his formative years. After the release of his debut, Nsungileni, his popularity grew.
He would later produce three more albums and was working on his fifth before he died.
For the thousands of his followers, Prophet Nyirongo will be remembered more for his miracles and prophesies than for his music.
â€œHe touched many lives in a positive way,â€ says Prophet Andrew.
His tragic death at a young age has, no doubt, left some of his critics questioning whether he was truly a Man of God or not.
â€œI believe that is how God wanted him to die,â€ says Prophet Andrew. â€œLife is about how well you live it, not how long you live it. Jesus died when he was 33.â€
Emmanuel Nyirongo is survived by his wife and three children.
JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka