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Bishop Oyedepo: The Slap Seen Around The World By Sonala Olumhense

Until this week, I had never seen Bishop Oyedepo on video.  Like everyone else, I now carry the haunting image of the slap the good Bishop administered on a young worshipper during a televised service.

Until this week, I had never seen Bishop Oyedepo on video.  Like everyone else, I now carry the haunting image of the slap the good Bishop administered on a young worshipper during a televised service.

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My first comment is that Mr. Oyedepo is not a very good slapper, although he may have had some practice at home.  Perhaps members of his family should turn the other cheek to enable him practice more.  Look closely at the footage, for a considerable while before the slapping, his mind was made up that the girl before him was worthless. 

You can see the contempt clearly outlined on the face of The Holy Man.  That contempt was not only for the alleged witch, but for whoever had permitted the creature to come within breathing distance of his Holiness, including the layers of pastors in a security ring around him.

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It seems Mr. Oyedepo might have been content simply to shove her far across the country with just one of his gleaming shoes, and have someone deport her far from his consciousness, but on one condition. 

But let us be fair to him: the video does start abruptly.  There clearly was some kind of altercation ahead of the footage. 

We hear the Bishop asking: “You’ve been there for how long?” 

But she rebuts: “I’m not a witch…my own witch is for Jesus.”

The right answer, in the mind of the Holy Man, the only answer permissible—indeed the only condition for the girl to have regained his estimation as a human being—was obviously this one:

“Yes Sir, I am a witch!”

Had she offered that answer, the Rich Man of God would most likely have extended his microphone to her mouth, and for the benefit of his video production team and Planets Earth, Heaven, and assorted civilizations in between, said only one more word:


But—holy of holies—the young lady contradicted the expectations of His Sinlessness and said something completely outside the script.

And you knew, the moment she uttered the “sacrilege” right in front of His Excellency, that there was going to be (no pun suggested) hell right here on earth.  But remember, the Pastor is also something of an actor.  A man does not don a Savile Row suit and splash on his make-up in readiness for that American-style production crew and not know a thing or two about acting.

And so Oga Bishop reset the scene, giving the skinny idiot the chance to recant…to remember the script, to claim Hell so he could claim to serve Heaven…to say the words he desired so that he could pronounce his own mighty lines and move on to the next sinner.

She did not.  Something was wrong.  She had probably not been fully debriefed.  She was probably in the bathroom in the moments before airtime, a nervous wreck trying to empty her bladder as the production crew hustled and bustled and the director fired final instructions.

 “When did you join witchcraft?”

I have to believe that the young lady had watched The Flawless Man on television somewhere, and that she had a certain feel for his heart and his height.  But television, even as large as it has become in the PHCN era, is aby format a lie.  Reality TV does not really tell you a pot of okro about a superstar, especially a larger-than-life, limousine-riding, jet-flying global Pastor who may be too important to remember that all have sinned, and fallen.  No television-watching can prepare anyone for the menace of the arrogance of such a person or the quality of his breath at close quarters.

In other words, I have no idea what the admixture of emotions in the head of that young girl must have been.  But she was the only one with access, at that moment, to the glint in his eyes, something she may have mistaken to be a radiation of the love of Christ.

“When did you join witchcraft?”

At that point, she may have thought that The Holy One had not heard her response the first time.  It is a cavernous edifice, that church.  She may have thought that the giant who towered so far above her he could touch the roof if he wished; the Giant of the Gospel who was blessed with such wisdom and understanding he might have been Solomon in another lifetime, would ask her what she meant, thus permitting share her to share her experience. 

And so, gathering the breath in her lungs, she repeated.  “I am not a witch.  But I am a witch for Christ.”

Now that I think about it, Mr. Oyedepo’s first expression of his anger may have been to elevate a boatload of spittle loaded with bile and brimstone in the direction of the young lady to sweep her out and away into the wind and the Atlantic Ocean.  He had probably done that in the past and wound up bathing the innocent.  Or he may have considered a punch: a short, quick jab that would have knocked her teeth down into her stomach.

But a jab is not very dramatic.  Blink and you miss it.  Only an uppercut would have transmitted the appropriate message.  When a true uppercut is thrown by someone trained to do so, it freezes the victim, and then folds him away, and out.  But in Nollywood and its precincts such as Nigerian televangelism, sound is perhaps even more important than action, and an uppercut, with or without a glove, cannot transmit the desired authoritativeness and explosiveness.  

And so Oga Bishop unloaded what will forever be his signature moment, The Slap Seen Round The World. 

As I have said, I do not think he is a very good slapper.  He did not slap to correct or change; he slapped to express his frustration and to humiliate a “witch” who was refusing to admit it.  The effrontery to deny the Holy Man his moment in the lights!. 

Not once did Oyedepo ask her what she—obviously someone of little education—meant.  Perhaps the Big Man was concerned she might say something for which he lacked the expertise or the appropriate script. 

Clearly, while Oyedepo would have been comfortable with her “confession,” he seemed to have been afraid to confront anything more complicated, including listening to how she may have conceivably used her “witchcraft” to serve God.  “You are not set for deliverance,” he said in dismissal, “and you are free to go to hell!”

As a result, the young girl was not exposed as being anything more than confused.  In effect, Oyedepo’s response to “evil” was a slap to assuage his own emotions; it was not a battle against it to earn victory, the “devil” did not seem shamed let alone defeated.

If anything, Oyedepo’s weaknesses, including the quality of his arrogance, were exposed; arrogance emphasized in a later video in which he brags about his being slap-happy in public.  It is a surprise the Bishop has not had the little “witch” burnt at the stake.

It is Nigeria, of course, where it does not take much effort to assault the weak and the vulnerable, for that is what a young girl kneeling in front of him at that service really was. It explains why Nigerians live in hell as a people because when political power is available, it is used not for governance, but for self-magnification.  Most of those who ride private jets like the Bishop are practicing thieves who prey on the poor and the uneducated.  And curiously, these men of power and privilege are often supported by men of “faith” who confer credibility on them.  

For me, the future is clear: only when I find a video of Oyedepo slapping the devilry out of those broad daylight witches will he—ever—enjoy my respect. 
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[Special to NVS/SaharaReporters]

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