Short Report

The essence of heaven comes alive in Durban

29 September 2017 - 13:43
Vanessa de Luca, Phillip Sithole, Andrew Young and TD Jakes at a press conference at the Essence festival.
Vanessa de Luca, Phillip Sithole, Andrew Young and TD Jakes at a press conference at the Essence festival.
Image: Jackie Clausen

The 2017 Essence Festival‚ climaxing in Durban this weekend in a confetti-like shower of taxpayers’ money‚ has come in for a lot of stick.

Some have asked why the eThekwini Municipality is paying about R100-million (last year’s cost) for what is essentially an opportunity for rich people to talk about themselves.

The municipality has rejected allegations of wasteful expenditure‚ claiming that the festival offers Durbanites a chance to listen to inspiring entrepreneurs and briefly forget the heat and leeches and swamp madness that make Durban what it is.

I have to admit they have a point. For example‚ consider one of their biggest draw-cards‚ American TD Jakes‚ who will be teaching principles that will “help you take your business to the next level”.

He knows what he’s talking about. Jakes has not only taken his business to the next level but to the highest level possible: heaven.

His official title may be “Bishop” but Jakes is‚ in fact‚ a fantastically successful estate agent who has amassed about $150-million by selling property in the Afterlife. Yes‚ brothers and sisters‚ all you have to do is listen to his pitch (cash and credit cards accepted) and‚ when you die‚ you will be handed the metaphysical keys to your very own cloud.

Not that it’s all been plain sailing. In 2015 it almost all came crashing down‚ Jericho-like‚ when he told Huffington Post that his attitudes to same-sex marriage and churches for lesbian‚ gay‚ bisexual‚ transgender and intersex people were “evolving”. You probably remember the incident‚ what with the rivers turning to blood and a whole bunch of people turning into salt. I mean‚ talking tolerance is bad enough‚ but referencing evolution too? What the hell was he thinking?

Fortunately for his million of dollars‚ sorry‚ I mean followers‚ Jakes quickly explained that it was his “method” that was evolving and not his “message”. “My position on the subject has been steadfast and rooted in Scripture‚” said Jakes. (For those who haven’t followed the last 2,000 years‚ “steadfast and rooted in Scripture” means “cherry-picking paragraphs from a work of fiction to validate my prejudices”.)

So you can all relax. Jakes still thinks it’s a sin punishable by eternal damnation for two people to get married who happen to have the same sex.

Which is weird‚ because the eThekwini Municipality is presumably paying for his board and lodging‚ and Durban is in South Africa‚ where gay marriage is legal. Which means you and I are paying for a vastly rich American to come here and tell us that the Almighty hates our laws.

Truly‚ God works in mysterious ways.