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10 things to know about this man of God Deya

Ever since he established the Gilbert Deya Ministries in 1997, Kenyan televangelist Gilbert Deya has been synonymous with controversy.

On Friday he pleaded not guilty to five charges of child stealing at Mountain View Estate between 1999 and 2004.

Here are 10 things you need to know about this controversial clergyman following his extradition from the UK.

1. Was born in Juja in today’s Kiambu County in 1952 – the son of a sisal worker from Bondo Deya is the eleventh child in a family of fifteen. He believed his father, Samuel Oyanda Deya, was cursed and possessed with demons, and turned into an alcoholic and philanderer.

2. Never received formal education beyond primary school – Deya’s story reads like a rags-to-riches tale, but with a tinge of infamy. His family was bone-poor, lived in a congested house and the children continually got infected with water-borne diseases. He attended primary school only after his mother pleaded with his father to let him attend school but he would later drop out because of bullying and poverty.

3. Preacher, street beggar and shrewd businessman – His rise to preaching stardom took him to Jinja, Kampala, in Uganda, where he beat up a woman for hitting the children of his sister. He later worked there as a porter. He “accepted Jesus Christ” in 1967. But his prosperity preaching dates back to 1976, when he started the “Salvation of Jesus Christ Church”. The membership included Hezekiah Ochuka, a soldier hanged in 1987 for plotting a failed Kenyan coup in 1982. The Kenyan government declined to register this church and it folded after the coup.

4. Married his wife, Mary Anyango, at 21 – The woman was only 14. They bore five children, but the number could be unknown if you include the miracle babies Mary claimed to have brought forth.

5. Genesis of miracle babies – In 1999 the story of miracle babies started with a certain Mr Gerald Muthomi and his wife Catherine Kajuju claiming their son, born in 2001, had disappeared from their neighbourhood two years later, only to surface as a miracle baby by a previously childless woman in Deya’s church.

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6. More miracle babies – In 2004 Michael Odera and his wife Eddah claimed to have given birth to 11 children within five years both were members of Deya’s church. In total 21 children were found in two different estates.

7. Asylum seeker – In September 2004, after the Kenyan government obtained a warrant to obtain DNA samples from Deya who then decided to seek asylum in UK.

8. Wit, charm and curses – In his defences Deya once quoted John 12:9-11 (the story of how Lazarus was nearly killed after being raised from the dead by Jesus … because the purist Jewish priest’s feared people would start believing in Jesus). He even “cursed” President Mwai Kibaki and then Attorney-General Amos Wako claiming he was a patriot with global influence.

9. Huge church membership abroad – Deya’s church in Pekham, South London has more than 34,000 members with branches in Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Luton, Reading and Manchester. The church claims to be “the fastest growing Ministry in the UK and worldwide”.

10. Run in with British law – Deya has previously been arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police and detained under an arrest warrant issued by Kenyan authorities, who had charged him with child abduction and trafficking.