Meeting The Man Himself: My encounter with late ZAOGA’s legendary founder Ezekiel Handinawangu Guti


ON May 31, 2015, a Sunday, I had my first personal encounter with the late Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Forward in Faith (ZAOGA FIF) founder, Archbishop Ezekiel Handinawangu Guti.

Back then, I was responsible for the religion desk at The Sunday Mail.

Baba Guti, as he was affectionately known, was one personality I had been desperate to interview for a long time.

All my previous efforts to have a one-on-one with him had been in vain.

Countless requests for interviews sent to his office were all met with the same responses: either he was unavailable or busy with the demands that came with running a global Christian ministry.

That Sunday morning, while I was attending a church service, I received a text message from Professor Marvellous Mhloyi, inviting me to witness her ordainment as a bishop by Baba Guti.

Though my Sundays are usually dedicated to resting and spending time with close family members, I could not pass up this opportunity of being up close and personal with the revered cleric.

The journalist in me told me that my chance to finally meet and have a conversation with the man himself had come.

I figured that I could use this opportunity to reach out to him personally in the absence of multitudes of people who were always in tow at public events.

I made my way to the church’s headquarters in Waterfalls and arrived by 2pm. I met some familiar faces, church officials. I had gained notoriety for nagging them whenever I was requesting an interview with Baba Guti.

One of them was the then secretary-general, Dr Washington Rupapa.

He told me in no uncertain terms that I might not even have a chance to see Baba Guti because of his punishing schedule, no matter how relaxed the environment was. I sat through the ordination ceremony patiently, praying quietly for my opportunity to come face-to-face with the man of God.

After the ordination ceremony, Prof Rupapa played the figurative role of a “number nine”, in football parlance, as she ushered me to meet Baba Guti.

Finally, my prayers had been answered.

The man carried himself with panache. Together with his wife and long-time sweetheart, Apostle Eunor, he beckoned me to sit on a couch as he held my hand. He was fatherly.

During the 15-minute interview that ensued, his personality and posture radiated the wholesomeness of his achievements and experience, of being an evangelist, educationist, father, adviser and apostle.

This would be the first of my many other encounters with Baba Guti and my reporting on his ministry.


His act of holding my hand like we were old high school buddies encapsulated the kind of person Baba Guti was — a humble soul, who always identified with the ordinary.

He never allowed himself to be intoxicated by his stature and achievements as a giant in the global Christian ministry.

This is probably why he never built a security wall around himself to barricade himself from the ordinary man.

In fact, whenever Baba Guti felt his security detail was becoming heavy-handed, he would push away the personnel himself so that people could freely dance with him.

Baba Guti always reminded the people he preached to, to ultimately look to Jesus Christ and God. He did not believe in framing himself as a cult personality.

I remember him saying in one of his teachings: “Ezekiel was sent by Jesus Christ; all these people must hold onto Christ; all these people of ZAOGA must listen to what Ezekiel is saying and hold on to Jesus. If they hold on to Ezekiel in flesh and carnality, they miss it and they get lost”.

He knew there was a thin line between followers revering their leader and building a cult around him.


Baba Guti’s stature as an educationist was undoubted.

When I introduced myself, saying I had come from The Sunday Mail, he began teaching me about how the media business today was driven by lies and biases.

From the early days, his ministry was founded on teachings about hard work, entrepreneurship, and giving to the church and communities.

This is probably why many of his followers are in business. He always said it was good for Christians to be rich, but that must come from honest hard work.

Baba Guti taught us that the price of success was hard work, dedication and determination.

He said when one applies these three virtues, God would do the rest. The educationist in him will forever remain with us through the Ezekiel Guti Technical College, Ezekiel Guti University, bible schools and orphanages he founded.

An author, Baba Guti penned more than 120 books.

According to Mr James Sithole, former publication director of the Ezekiel Guti Evangelistic Association, Baba Guti wrote his manuscripts the old-fashioned way, by hand in counter books.


During that interview, I observed that the man radiated the unimaginable wisdom of an apostle.

When I requested that he lay his hands on me, his first reaction was to offer me advice. Many Christian and church leaders sought advice from Baba Guti.

He oversaw the tutoring of more than 4 000 pastors in over 55 countries.

He established churches in every corner of Zimbabwe and spread his ministry as far afield as Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and North America.

He also set up bible schools locally, and in Ghana, Zambia and Mozambique, among many other countries.

To have an evangelist who founded a global movement under a tree on May 12, 1960, in Bindura at the age of 15 years, which has impacted the education and health sectors, as well as the global Christian ministry, was a rare gift he possessed.


There was consensus among us, of the Christian faith, about Baba Guti’s authenticity as a true man of God.

I would safely say there was close to 99,9 percent consensus that he was a Christian leader par excellence.

From the Christian community, non-believers, Apostolic sects, African traditional religion believers, political leaders, you name them, whenever the name Guti was spoken of, it was followed by words of reverence.

As the church remembers the life of Baba Guti over the next month, it is indeed befitting to celebrate the person and achievements of this global icon.

We also mourn together with the broken hearts he has left behind.

Rest easy, Baba Guti.

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