This is story back in time. It is the story of a man who lived like an emperor, who lived as if the world would never end but about whom very little is known. This piece attempts to amalgamate the most reliable information found on him. He proclaimed himself as Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour and the Lord. While some viewed him as raving mad, his ‘madness’ attracted hordes of devoted worshippers to his territory.
Now, let’s roll back in time. When the Christian missionaries arrived Nigeria, Ikot-Ekpene was one of the first destinations. And they arrived with fire and brimstone, their goal was to convert everyone from what they regarded as African paganism to Christianity. The influence of Christianity is still very strong and visible in Ikot-Ekpene till date. However, since the native people already had their own set of traditional beliefs, what later emerged over time in some areas of Ikot-Ekpene was a blend of Christianity and African traditional religions, leading to a curious strand of syncretism that produced people like Etim Edidem Bassey.
EARLY DAYS AND HIS ‘MIRACLES’
Historical accounts have it that Edidem did not attend school and was not educated. His father died when he was a little boy. His sojourn started as a child attending the Methodist Church until he turned 20 when the spirit of God reportedly landed on him and took him to an Apostolic Church. His followers claim that although he was not schooled, he found himself one morning that he could speak, read and write English all of a sudden. They did not stop there, they also claimed that he could write, read and speak German or any language on earth without anyone teaching him. His followers also said the unlettered Edidem wrote several books teaching what the apostles could not teach because they did not have time to explain certain things, like the parables of Jesus Christ. Note that I am writing what his followers said.
The disciples of Edidem claim he is the Comforter and Spirit of Truth that Jesus Christ promised to send and they said because of that, the Spirit of God dwells in him and allowed him to perform all sorts of miracles. They said when it was time to build his church in Ikot Ekpene and the builder demanded for a plan, there was none so the great Edidem took a pen and drew the plan himself without any architect teaching him, the building today is at Ikot Ekpene and is called the Throne of God.
Other mysterious claims ascribed to Edidem are that he had the powers to heal the blind, deaf, disabled and even resurrected the dead like the time when a little child reportedly died in the arms of the mother in Ikot Ekpene and Edidem raised the dead child to life immediately. They claim he had all the powers to heal any kind of disease or sickness. When he was at the Apostolic Faith Church, there was a time when there was a conflict in the church which led to the death of many of the missionaries (blacks and whites) around 1944.
Legend has it that it was that time Edidem volunteered to go to the wilderness to pray for peace and the mercy of God to rain on the church. After two years, the fight returned to the church and the church said the little peace they had was because Edidem went to pray and fast in the wilderness. So anytime there was any conflict in the church, the church would order Edidem to enter the wilderness and do his magic as usual, to beg God so peace can fall on them again. With time, some other members (13 in total) were said to have joined him in the wilderness. As the prayers intensified, those who followed Edidem got tired and they left one after the other until the great Edidem alone was remaining in the wilderness.
It was at that moment that he said Jesus Christ appeared to him alone and told him that he would be the leader of the holy nation of the Gentiles. In other words, Edidem has no evidence or proof for his claim, he was the only one who saw Jesus when he appeared to him. But Nigerians still believe him. He said it was a vision that he had from God that made him leave the apostolic church and head for his hometown of Ikot Ekpene where he set up the Spiritual Kingdom Church of Christ (SKCC).
On the day he was to leave the Apostolic Church, a massive sendoff party was arranged for him and based on the vision he saw from God, they were ordered to make a special chair for him. God told him the length, width and height of the chair and so the chair was made o. But Edidem felt the chair was too prominent and told them to put it into the vestry. At that moment, another vision came to him from God again warning him that if he kept doubting God’s orders, he would die. Other church members too said they also saw similar visions.
Ehen, back to the miracle of the chair God told him to make. Remember Edidem told them to keep the massive chair in the vestry because he was ‘shy’ that the chair was too big. So in the vestry where they kept the chair, another big ‘miracle’ occurred. All the chairs in the church and vestry were destroyed by ants except the chair specially-designed for Edidem. His followers were reportedly shocked by this divine sign.
In other for Jesus to confirm the dreams and visions, Edidem reportedly went into spiritual confinement for as long as three years. During such periods, he would be separated from the world and Jesus Christ reportedly appeared to him, baptized and anointed him, with Jesus Christ telling him after Edidem fought Satan for seven hours:
The Annang people of his place believed all his visions and started following him and feted him with all sorts of gifts and items. In fact, the Ibibio and Annang community reportedly made an ornate chariot made of brass for him. Over time, his followership grew. Edidem is the Efik word for king.
Etim Edidem Bassey, the Jesus Christ of Ikot-Ekpene. Bassey’s case was not an isolated one. At about the same time, other men in various parts of Nigeria were claiming to be the Messiah, from Immanuel Odumosu aka Jesu Oyingbo in Lagos to Olumba Olumba Obu in Calabar, the business was booming for these self-appointed saviours of the planet. Back to Bassey’s story, he started out as a truck pusher but with time, he saw that the truckpushing business was not paying him well and that he needed a better calling. That was when he decided to give the people what they were yearning for spiritually – he declared himself to be Jesus Christ. Soon enough, this proved to be a masterstroke of financial success for him as he became the richest man in all of Ikot-Ekpene. He constructed the biggest and the most luxurious house in all of Ikot-Ekpene and his flamboyance knew no bounds. His clothes were made of the finest materials around and he had a specially-constructed throne for himself and every year, he would be carried by his devotees around the streets of Ikot-Ekpene on this special throne of his.
Bassey was not just about extravagance alone; he had absolute and unfettered power over his followers. They were so devoted and subservient to him that his male devotees were madly excited anytime Bassey decided to choose any of their wives to warm his massive bed. Bassey could sleep with any of the ladies in his congregation, including the married ones, and their husbands would be jubilating for being the ‘chosen one’ by Daddy Bassey.
What was happening in Bassey’s enclave was the ultimate form of mind control and his followers, in all sincerity, did not see him as a human being. To them, Bassey was God Almighty and for God Himself to stoop down from his mighty throne and become a mere mortal who wants to copulate with their wives was the height of joy for them. They did not see anything wrong with it. And Bassey did sleep with as many of the women in his congregation. His empire stood on three pillars: sex, money and power. He enjoyed his life to the fullest, to the detriment of his gullible followers. The life of Etim Ededem-Bassey was appropriately captured in an article in Drum of July 1961. It went thus:
‘In the whole of Ikot-Ekpene, in Eastern Nigeria, Jesus Ededem Bassey, a former truck pusher, is today regarded as the richest man. Nor is his great wealth exaggerated. For one thing, he has the most expensive building in Ikot-Ekpene. For another thing, he leads a life of luxury beside which that of any Oriental potentate of legend would pale into insignificance.
He has a throne on which he is dragged through all the nooks and corners of Ikot-Ekpene once a year. He has male followers who obey his bidding without question. He is a god and can take any woman (provided she is one of his own flock) he fancies. It does not matter that the woman may be married to one of his male followers. That he, a god, condescends to fancy his wife at all is accepted by any of his male followers as the greatest honour that a god can do to a mere mortal.’
According to his believers, the photos below show the place in Oron Kingdom where Bassey drew a line for angels to pass and pray for the peace of Nigeria:
HIS CHURCH TODAY
See his followers:
Although Etim Edidem Bassey is dead, his son took over and is worshipped today as the Jesus. He has followers, many of whom add ‘Edidem’ to their names. The photos below show the current Etim Edidem Bassey, his churches, his followers and other relevant items:
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