How last presidential bid to probe cultism in Kenya flopped

Some of the bodies exhumed by police officers at Shakahola in Malindi, Kilifi County, on April 21, 2023. [Marion Kithi, Standard]

The last presidential attempt to expose the presence of occult societies in the country through an official inquiry ended in a fiasco.

Former President Daniel arap Moi had on October 14, 1994, formed a commission of inquiry to investigate the veracity of the claims that devil worship was rife in Kenya.

Like Ruto's commission, Moi's was swamped with Christian clerics. The chair was late Archbishop Nichodemus Kirima and members included then moderator of PCEA Bernard Muindi, Bishop Horace Etemesi of Anglican Church, Rev, Dr Jones Kaleli on Africa Inland Church (AIC), Rev Boniface Odoyo of Pentecostal Church.

Lawyer Fred Ojiambo was perhaps the only non-cleric in the team. They presented the final report on July 12, 1995, but Moi sat on it saying it contained sensitive information. It turned out the team had indicted almost every other secret society in the country, including the Freemasons.

Among those indicted were the Theosophy Society, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the New Age Movement, the then-budding Matatu culture and music, Jehovah's Witness, Rudolf Steiner School, Lucifer Golfing Society, Rastafarians and transcendental meditation practices.

"They seemed to use every trick to convince the Commission that they were not in fact devil worshippers," the report said of the indicted societies while affirming devil worship existed in Kenya "both in learning institutions and the society."

The Commission's visit to the masonic hall along Nyerere Road did not help matters for the society. Upon seeing the compass, pentagram and star of David signs, they easily concluded it was all devil's handiwork.

"In view of conflicting information regarding the activities of the Freemasonry, and given the secrecy of the society both to its members and the general public, the commission strongly recommends that the government institutes further investigations on its activities," the report concluded.

Walter Ookok, a Freemason official, came out to express disappointment with the report. He admitted to ritual dramas and ancient mason customs and tools but said they were deployed only as allegories. Rudolf Steiner School dismissed the report while Theosophical Society said they pursued religious truths.

Lawyer G.K Waruhiu defended the "Lucifer Golfing Society", popular in Commonwealth countries saying the Commission had fallen for its humor:

"To the hapless Commission, this is a sign of devil worship. What a trash! But if the members want to display further gullibility, they may start looking for golfers who call themselves blue domers because they say their prayers on the golf course on Sunday mornings under God's blue sky."

The report was not spared by the quintessential rebel in cloth, Rev Timothy Njoya. He said it was a total waste of money and time.