Prophet Samuel Kakande of The Synagogue Church of all Nations is not new to controversy.
His claim to cure all ailments including HIV/AIDS is not new.
“Kakande disobeyed the word of God and decided to create his religion. He is not accountable to us. We have a code of conduct that Kakande failed to cope with. Therefore, any criminal actions by him or his followers can only be answered by the Internal Affairs ministry or Police,” Alex Mitala, head of the National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Christians, (NFBAC) told the press then.
He is known for his ‘blessed water’ that he claims to possess healing power. His followers scramble for it on the first Sunday of every month.
In his church, soda, water and cakes are sold. So are envelopes in which people enclose written problems, names, addresses and tithe.
Kakande’s website www.thekakandeministries.org features testimonies and medical reports of people who claim to have tested HIV-positive but turned negative after his prayers.
While this has been disputed by some of his former allies, the site carries pictures of people who claim that their sero status has changed.
The inside of the church is like Hollywood, with screens that telecast church proceedings. When Kakande is not present, pre-recorded sermons are telecast.
Throughout the service, money changes hands between waitresses wearing aprons and members of the congregation buying snacks.
Some hymns have kadongo kamu tunes and praise Kakande and the late John Obiri-Yeboah, the founder of the church.
The latter’s son Kojo Nana Obiri-Yeboah is the Ghanaian pastor who was, in 2007, arrested at Entebbe Airport with a shock electric machine.
It was suspected that the machine is used to induce ‘miracles’.
Praises for Kakande are not limited to hymns. They are also reflected in presentations by Sunday school children on TV screens.
Devoid of the usual Sunday school songs and drama, the children’s shows involve carefully crafted statements. One of them describes Kakande as a ‘Professor’ in God’s issues.
“Munno mu nsawo, ye munno ddala”, one kid said, meaning, a generous friend is a friend indeed.
Most testimonies are about healing from Kakande’s prayers. They are carefully selected.
Strangers are not given chance to testify.
“You are not a member of this church, Prophet didn’t pray for you, so what testimony are you going to give? You have no testimony,” said an aide when this reporter tried to register.
Whether Kakande’s church is a cult as some people have suggested is open to debate. The Macmillan Advanced Learners Dictionary defines a cult as, “a religious group, especially one with beliefs that most people consider strange or dangerous”
Attempts to talk to Kakande failed as his phone was off. A lady who picked his home land line also said he wasn’t at home.
Kakande runs a programme on Radio West every Saturday 10-11:00 p.m. featuring his sermon and testimonies of people he has healed.
Grace Kembabazi who translates Kakande’s sermons from English to Runyankole often gives out her number on air.
This writer called Kembabazi, disguised as an avid listener, and sought clarification on some issues about the church. On sale of items in the church, she said it was worshipers who demanded it as the long service and large number of worshipers makes it difficult to move in and out for refreshments.
Kembabazi also says video recordings of people’s confessions can only be used on TV with their consent. “That is why people leave their mobile numbers,” she said.
Kakande also runs a programme on WBS featuring sermons and testimonies. His website also says the church sells video recordings of people’s testimonies and his sermons.
In a telephone interview, Apostle Alex Mitala, the Overseer of NFBAC, distanced the churches from such practices as confessing sins publicly, dividing people along tribal lines, selling groceries and water in church.
However, Rev. Canon. Aaron Mwesigye, the Provincial Secretary Church of Uganda said it’s okay for people to confess their sins publicly in church “if they are guided by the holy spirit.”