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'I am Jesus' claims on the increase

31 January 2014

by Helen Pye


THE number of men claiming to be Jesus in central and southern parts of Africa has increased in recent months, Anglican News reported last week. At least four men have claimed to be the Son of God in the past month alone.

Mupeta Chishimba, of Kitwe, Zambia, was attacked by an angry mob when he claimed to be Christ, and said that all Jesus's power had been reincarnated in him. Mr Chisimba said that his mission as Jesus was to put an end to all political governments. "I am Jesus Christ from the heavens, who has come to save you from this world," he said. "No one can stop me, because I possess the divine power."

A Zimbabwean man, Abdullah Ncube, was saved by riot police on 12 January, when he was tied down by a mob at a shopping centre in his home city of Bulawayo, after claiming that he could perform miracles. After the story was reported in a local newspaper, The Chronicle, Mr Ncube entered their offices and threatened to "kill all journalists".

A South African man, Moses Hlongwane, has attracted followers in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, in eastern South Africa, who regularly give him gifts of money. He claims that he spent time in the wilderness, after which he was reincarnated as Jesus Christ, and that he is now immortal.

A clinical psychologist at the University of East London, Dr David Harper, believes that the most common reason for people claiming to be Jesus is grandiose delusions, a form of delusional disorder often called the Messiah complex. He noted that the claims of the four most recent Jesuses to bring an end to poverty or political turmoil were common themes to those suffering from grandiose delusions. "They're common among people who feel quite devalued and powerless in society," he said.

Mr Chishimba and Mr Ncube have been attacked by angry mobs for their claims, which Dr Harper believes may fuel their beliefs. "In a bizarre way, being beaten up, if you genuinely believe you are Jesus, might make that belief stronger. 'Here I am, being persecuted,' in the way scripture says."

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