No offence to 64-year-old Sibusiso Mthembu, but hearing his story just made me laugh out loud. Of course, the South African from KwaZulu-Natal tells it in all seriousness. And who knows, he may even be telling the truth about having visited heaven four times, so far. The first time was in 1998, and subsequent visits were made in 2004, 2006 and 2008. It all started in 1993, when a white man (an angel, apparently) paid him a visit and told him he was needed in heaven. And now, after several visits, he’s drawing a map to make sure the rest of us ‘unlucky’ ones get what he’s talking about.
But it’s not the fact that he took a few vacations to heaven or even that he’s drawing a map that amuses me. It’s more to do with the stuff he says he’s seen and done there. According to Mthembu, there are 11 heavens in all, and he was taken to the fifth one, Crista, first. It was there, in a city called Sharmoy, that he claims to have met Jesus. The main heaven is Salem, he says, where God’s temple is located. God is apparently in his youth, and of a Grayish complexion. Jesus is white. He saw God for the first time during his second trip, on a planet called Jadalem that’s mostly covered in water and ice.
Mthembu’s other sightings include Moses, Eliya, and Abel. He also explored the Marshnode City, which is the place people go to when they die, to get reincarnated. But here’s the weirdest of all his tales – he says that the people who predicted the end of the world in May last year weren’t entirely incorrect. Mthembu seems to have eavesdropped on an important meeting in the heavens, where the biggest war against Satanism was being discussed. The war is supposed to have been launched on May 23rd, so we’re basically on a countdown to the absolute end.
The map isn’t ready yet, but Mthembu is already worried about counterfeit versions. “People must come and see the map as one day someone from Japan or China or Britain will design a map of heaven and the people of South Africa will have forgotten that the map was originally made in South Africa,” he says. Perhaps he needs to patent his creation. And while he’s at it, write a fantasy novel and strike a movie deal too?