Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, AKA Major 1, is one of the most popular Christians leaders in Africa. His fame hit all corners of Africa and beyond after videos of him purportedly walking on air, invoking the presence of angels, among others went viral.
The popular Malawian Christian preacher, is also a motivational speaker, author, and businessman.
His fame and tale have reached all corners of the world. But how did he become so popular? How did he start?
Biography of Prophet Bushiri
Bushiri was born on February 20, 1983, in the district of Rhumpi, Malawi. His full name is Shepherd Huxley Bushiri.
He grew up in Mzuzu, a town situated in the northern part of Malawi, his home country.
He claims to have had a spiritual encounter with a supernatural power at the tender age of 10 and that it led him to devote his life to the service of God.
According to information on his church’s website, Bushiri founded the church, Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) in 2010 in Malawi.
In an interview, he revealed that ECG began operations in South Africa in 2012 with just 35 members.
In 2015, Bushiri moved to South Africa to head the church and they had just 200 members back then.
Before the end of 2015, the church grew tremendously to a size of 15,000 congregants.
In 2018, ECG had over 700,000 registered members across its branches. In Pretoria, where the headquarters is located, they had nearly 100,000 registered members.
What took some pastors decades to achieve, Bushiri achieved it in less than 5 years. So, kudos to him.
But, how was he able to pull that off?
Well, the thing is, a lot of people are suckers for signs and wonders, and Bushiri provided them in abundance.
Prophet Bushiri walks on Air
In 2015, he released a video of himself walking on air in the presence of supposed reporters.
He called some cameramen to film himself walking on air. And, as expected, the video went viral.
An American TV host recreated the scene to prove that it was just a simple camera trick.
Nevertheless, his church grew tremendously, as many people were eager to meet the supposedly powerful prophet.
He also claims to have raised dead people back to life, healed the lame, restored the eyesight of blind people, cured several people of HIV, to name a few.
Those signs and wonders made several people throng his church.
Bushiri net worth, Private Jets and Cars
Bushiri drives some of the most expensive cars in the world and owns several private jets.
His cars include a Rolls Royce, an Aston Martin, a Bentley Continental limited edition, among many others.
To put it simply, his cars are worth millions of dollars.
Many sources claim the popular pastor is worth at least $150 million.
A 2018 BBC report reveals that he bought up to four Private jets.
And he did all of this within just 3 years of his relocation to South Africa.
He claims his lavish lifestyle is a product of his smart business investment.
Bushiri managed to build a business empire mainly through a company called “Shepherd Bushiri Investments”, described on his church’s website as having “interests in mining, real estate, and other entrepreneurial pursuits”.
Bushiri says men of God should be rich and justifies his venture into business as a way to support his family.
But his unprecedented rise from a lowly beginning to immense wealth remains a mystery to many and has continued to raise eyebrows.
The BBC reports that “On a regular Sunday, about 40,000 people will gather to hear the Prophet preach, and potentially pick up some of the specially designed merchandise on sale at stalls dotted around the large church complex – anything from “miracle oil”, calendars and wrist bands, to branded towels, T-shirts and caps, all emblazoned with his face.”
Many of them believe that those merchandises carry some sort of power that can protect them against harm.
Authorities now accuse him of taking advantage of gullible people who continue to go to him for miracles and prophecies.
And then, more controversies came.
The Stampede and Bushiri’s Church
Three women were killed in an apparent stampede at the ECG church during a service on December 28th, 2018.
At least 17 other congregants sustained as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm in Pretoria, according to timeslive.co.za
In the aftermath, the South African National Civic Organization led protests at the ECG, with community members calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds immediately and for Bushiri to be deported back to Malawi .
However, The South African watchdog on matters of religion, the CRL Rights Commission, quickly stepped in, initiating a mediation process.
They cleared Bushiri and the ECG of wrongdoing in hosting their December 28 gathering.
Prophet Bushiri and his wife arrested
On February 1st, 2019, the South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Investigations (HAWKS) arrested Bushiri together with his wife for fraud and money laundering.
He allegedly lured many of his members into investing in a dubious investment scheme.
On 20th October 2020, before their court appearance, the Bushiris were arrested again on charges which were not included in the previous cases.
Crime investigators say the case involves 102 million South Africa rand (or USD6.6m), as reported by 702.co.za.
He appeared at Pretoria’s Magistrates Court on October 21st to hear the charges and the court granted bail on November 4th.
Among the bail conditions were that the couple remains in Gauteng and their travel documents remain with the state. If they needed to travel, they would need to get written permission from investigating officers.
On November 14th, 2020, reports surfaced that Bushiri and his wife had fled back to Malawi, breaking bail conditions.
He claims it was due to fears for their safety, as several disgruntled South Africans were looking to lynch him.
The trial of Bushiri and his alleged cohorts is expected to start in May 2021.
Therefore, the South African government has been working on securing his deportation from Malawi to face his charges.
Bushiri claims he is being persecuted and not prosecuted.