The procession on the walkway makes its way slowly, those in the lead also finding a spot to kneel when they reach the front, as the wait for Owobusobozi Bisaka to reach the front.
He comes, sheltered under a large yellow umbrella .Still enough sun reaches him to reflect off his satin Kanzu’s surface. The reverence from his followers is palpable, not a sound. No one gets up from the hard ground until he makes it to the podium and indeed until they are asked to stand and sing the opening hymn.
It is the second day such a service is being held on the grounds of Faith of Unity headquarters in Kapyemi, Kibaale. The previous day, June 11 was the 85th birthday of the founder and leader of Faith of Unity Owobusobozi Bisaka. June 12, is one of the three days of worship for this faith, the others being the 2nd and 22nd.
For the believers, known as Abaikiriza, June 11 is more than Bisaka’s birthday. It is the day “God” came to earth. Although Owobusobozi Bisaka formerly known as Desteo Bisaka founded faith of unity in 1980 after he denounced his catholic faith, they believe his birth was the actual beginning of his work.
The celebrations which coincided with the opening of a palatial residence the followers have built for him had attracted the abaikiriza in numbers. The multitude trudged, pushed and shoved their way towards the gates of the place of worship, all bare feet and, laden with their babies and luggage to where the function would take place. They turned the grounds into a sea of white.
The very idea of God being in a nondescript village of Uganda may sound ridiculous to many, but to believers, it is the only truth they chose to know.
“He is not a servant of God, he is not just our God, he is God!” says Godfrey Kayiwa, a 28-year-old who takes it upon himself to act as a guide through the faith.
He was introduced to the faith at a young age when their parents converted and has grown into the faith. He, however, says he chose to keep the faith of his own volition.
Kayiwa tries to explain how Bisaka is God by referring me to a passage in the faith’s holy book, The Book of God of the Age of Oneness, that was written by Owobusobozi in 1987. The passage says, in God there are several spirits, one of which is contained in the person of Bisaka.
“We know he is old, that is what we see with our eyes, but we are also aware of what is in him, the power that resides in him,” continued Kayiwa.
Wonders of God
Ask any believer and they will tell you of all the amazing things Owobusobozi can do. And what you can achieve by praying to him. From instant recovery from debilitating conditions.
“I was very sick and had visited hospitals but I was not recovering”, is a line I heard more times that I can possibly recount. The miracles are also documented in the holy book, ranging from the blessing of a second wife, a new bicycle to deliverance from spells and witchcraft.
Byoleko, a middle-aged woman appears severally in the book. She was one of the first to follow Bisaka, joining barely a month from when he started. She told me she brought to him her sick son who was instantly healed and she believed. But believers know her as the lady to whom Owobusobozi has appeared to several times.
“When Owobusobozi comes, it is usually in broad daylight. He appears in his white kanzu and long white stick and a brightness all around him. He talks, but I cannot answer and then he disappears gradually,” explained the subsistence farmer who lives in a nearby village through a translator.
As Kayiwa put it, she is a very blessed lady, Owobusobozi does not just appear to anyone. As for verifying her claims, an elder called Businge who was one of those who translated the holy book to English says, he do not see a reason to doubt her story. “What would she be trying to achieve? Can you lie to God?” he asked.
The tall lean man does not hesitate to say why he is convinced Bisaka is God.
“He knows things from the past and those in the future. It is only God who can do that,” he says. Above all, the former protestant says he came to realise that other religions were one huge sham, full of inconsistencies.