You have seen him at political rallies and big church pulpits, or on WhatsApp shares, energetically praying and waving his hands during ministry.
Alex Kityo is the seven-year-old popularly known as Pastor Muto, who exhibits confidence in front of thousands of people, commands adults to kneel before him for prayer and binds demons with Pentecostal boldness.
Kityo came into the real spotlight when he prayed for Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) before his rallies in the campaign for the Kyadondo East parliamentary by-elections that the latter eventually won.
Ssentamu’s rallies many times started with the tiny boy being led to the podium – one time straight from school still in his uniform with a backpack possibly containing his empty food container and juice bottle – to pray a blessing for the self-proclaimed ghetto president.
In one incident, Kityo drew laughter and ululation when he commanded Ssentamu: “Fukamira! (Kneel down)”, which the now-MP did, before the youngster started praying over him with authority.
I spent a weekend with Kityo and his family, trying to understand what sets him apart from children his age, who are more concerned about the bicycle tune announcing the arrival of the popsicle-selling man, or getting a place on the village football team.
When I first visited the modest home still under construction in Manyangwa on a Saturday, Kityo was sweeping the compound as part of his daily chores.
I returned the following day to attend service with him.
WHO IS THIS BOY?
Kityo is the last born of 12 children born to Grace Nabayitawa and Salongo Gerald Matovu of Manyangwa, Gayaza in Wakiso district. Nabayitawa said Kityo initially woke up every night to pray and they took it as a joke, thinking he was imitating Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, because the family listens a lot to the controversial pastor’s Salt FM.
In fact, when Kityo prays, one cannot help but think of Bugingo, because of Kityo’s intonation and choice of words. Kityo was ignored but he did not step back; he continued serving God, preaching to his age mates, along roadsides and at his school – by then, Joe and Joe nursery school Manyangwa – during break and lunch time.
With time, Kityo asked for his mother’s garage for space to fellowship in. The garage was being used as a chicken coop and he was denied access.
“Mother, between God and chicken, what do you love more?” Kityo reportedly challenged his mother. Eventually, she surrendered the garage to him.
He rearranged it as a place of worship and there, started his dream of serving the Lord, naming it God Is Able Prayer Centre. It is there that I sat with others two Sundays ago, listening to this unusual preacher. He led the praise and worship convincingly, taught us from Matthew 18, before launching into a prayer session.
In attendance were five adults including Nabayitawa, and about 15 children. The now P1 pupil cannot read the Bible – he struggles with English, although his mother said he is a very bright student. His 10-year-old brother, Robin Kamya, reads the Bible to Kityo and explains it to him.
Kityo’s dream was to meet his role model, Pastor Bugingo, which came true and he considers it his first miracle, regardless the loopholes he encountered.
Kityo told me he fasted for 14 days and had to win over the “unfriendly ushers” at Bugingo’s House of Prayer Ministries in
Makerere to get a chance to share the altar with his role model and preach to Bugingo’s followers. Melian Kabatooro, one of Kityo’s followers, said it started as a joke, but they are witnessing miracles and transformation of people’s lives.
When asked for examples, Kabatooro was quick to list Bobi Wine’s victory. Harriet Nakabuubi, Kityo’s teacher at Bright Future primary school Gayaza, said they noticed Kityo’s gift when he prayed for his colleagues and they appointed him to lead prayers during school assembly.
Meeting Bugingo may have been Kityo’s first miracle, but Bobi Wine’s victory is considered his biggest by far. Ssentamu’s recent electoral victory saw the young preacher suit up and go to parliament for his very first time, where he met various people he usually watched on TV.
If you thought Pastor Muto was simply a joke, he is constructing a church in Manyangwa next to his parents’ home with funds and donations from his followers and well-wishers.
The structure stood impressively big when I visited and will seat at least 100 people when complete. As we wound up the interview, he asked to pray for me; I sat in a chair and he placed his hand on my head, launching into fervent prayer for The Observer and me.
How it all started
Tell me briefly about yourself.
My name is Alex Kityo. I am seven years old. I am in primary one at Bright Future primary school Gayaza and I live in Manyangwa.
When did you start preaching?
I started it when I was in top class at Joe and Joe nursery school Manyangwa.
How did you learn how to preach?
It was a gift from God. One day I was sleeping and I heard: “Wake up and go pray for the people”. I thought I couldn’t but I felt something pushing me to pray. Whenever I opened my mouth to pray or preach, words flowed out surprisingly.
What is your favourite Bible verse?
Mostly I like Matthew 18, where God calls upon people to be humble like children, for the kingdom of God is theirs. The other one is 1 Samuel 27, where David had confidence in God to [overcome] Saul.
What inspired you to start preaching?
I have always loved listening to Pastor Aloysius Bugingo. With time I developed the urge to meet him. So, I decided to fast and pray so I could meet him.
How did you meet him?
The first time I attempted to meet him, I was blocked by his ushers; later my luck came through [his wife] Teddy Bugingo.
How did you react when you met him?
I was so excited seeing my dreams come into reality.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
At first I wanted to be a doctor, but after this call from God, I cannot resist; I want to serve the Lord for the rest of my life.
What are some of the answered prayers you have got so far?
I prayed for my parents to build and stop renting, which happened. I also managed to meet Pastor Bugingo physically. I got a bursary and also managed to pray for Bobi Wine to win the elections, not forgetting building my own church.
What advice do you give to the children?
I encourage them to pray and love God since He loves us too.