Owobusobozi Bisaka: The self-styled god in Bunyoro region

One of Ow’obusobozi Bisaka’s religions was banned in the 1980s by government over fears that its practices were dangerous. Twenty-two years later, his fold has continued to grow and now politicians, too, seek his help, Francis Mugerwa writes.

Saturday May 12 2012

Bisaka seated on his throne. However, not everyone believes in his alleged transcendent powers.

Bisaka seated on his throne. However, not everyone believes in his alleged transcendent powers. The Vicar General of Hoima Catholic Church, Msgr. Mathias Nyakatura, says Bisaka is after self-enrichment. 

By Francis Mugerwa

A few hours’ drive from Kibaale town, on top of Kapyemi Hill stands a white and orange storey building. As one approaches it, the visitor is met by a wooden gate that opens to a lash green compound. To the right are two rows of classroom blocks and to the left a ranch and banana plantation.

The smell from the ranch pierces your nostrils but is quickly overcome by the sweet scent from the freshly pruned flowers as one approaches the house. A group of people, in tens, seek refuge from the burning sun; some on the verandah and tree shades.

Welcome to the residence of one of Kibaale’s most powerful and influential characters, Ow’obusobozi Bisaka, a self-professed god. Bisaka does not only run a secondary school at his home but hosts hundreds of visitors daily, who come to seek prophecy, healings and bring various prayer request, some as petty as keeping beauty intact to more serious requests like winning elections for a political office.

Guarded residence
The often heavily guarded residence is the headquarters of the Faith of Unity, a sect founded by Bisaka, who lives a reclusive but lavish life. “I have come here to be healed. I have many problems. I have persistent headache, doctors tell me that I require surgery yet I do not have any money” Petero Kiiza,56, a resident of Buhimba Sub-county in Hoima District, says.

He has travelled about 50 kilometres to meet Bisaka whom he believes can heal him. Kiiza is among the hundreds of people who regularly flock to Kapyemi Hill to seek blessings, healing, jobs and guidance from Bisaka.

The self- professed god is revered by the young and old and has over the years gained about two million followers across the country and the number is steadily growing. The faith is said to have followers in other countries such as Rwanda, DR Congo and South Sudan.

The soft-spoken ecclesiastic also wears the hat of an author, singer and composer, who has various Catholic Church hymns like Nkaikiriza Ruhanga Murungi, which he wrote in 1975 to his credit.

The former Roman Catholic Church follower, who abandoned it in 1980, claims he experienced special powers and heard a loud voice from God that kept directing him to start healing people. “On February, 22, 1980, I accepted and touched a sick person who got healed,” Bisaka says.

This claim, however, cannot be verified but has brought him droves of followers from across the Kigezi and parts of Bunyoro region.
The Faith of Unity congregation prays every second, 12th and 22nd day of the month. For the rest of the days, each follower develops a list of good things they hope for daily.

The group does not believe in the Bible, calling it divisive but use ‘the book of the Faith of Unity’ authored by Bisaka and spells out cleaning courtyards, grazing animals, washing, hunting, donating, smiling at friends and praying to God as deeds that can give one eternal life.

The Faith of Unity denies Jesus’ existence. “The Bible is a source of disunity,” he says, “Whoever wants to start a religion picks a few verses to justify starting a new religion.”

The former teacher of the Bible wonders why the Holy book was not signed by the author, God. He, however, teaches that God is in three parts- God the creator, God of Holiness and himself Owobusobozi Bisaka. But his followers are so bent on believing in his powers. “He has spiritual powers which he uses to bless and heal us,” Omuhereza Baguma, a former Kibaale district LC5 aspirant, who joined the faith in 1985, says.

Bisaka claims that he was crowned by God with a throne which is a white as snow to fight Satan.

Born to Petero and Ms Byombi 82 years ago, in Buyanja County, Kibaale District, he grew up under the care of his grandparents, Alifonsio Wenkere and Malita Nyakake, who were catechists.

Bisaka served as a catechist at Bujuni Parish. In his biography published in 1987, he served as a teacher at Muhorro Primary School and choirmaster in Muhorro Catholic Church. He also served as secretary and chairman of the Muhorro Parish council.

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