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Official 'devil worship' inquiry indicted Freemasons but was thoroughly ridiculed

An open eye inside an interlocking triangle and circle carved in stone over the gate of The Church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Cannaregio, Venice. [iStock Photos]

An official inquiry into the status of devil worship in Kenya in the 90’s nearly declared freemasons a devilish cult.

The “Report of the presidential commission of inquiry into the cult of devil worship in Kenya” presented to President Daniel arap Moi in July 1995 had nothing good to say about the secretive society.

When the report was released to the public four years later, a newspaper report said the people interviewed for the report “were categorical in their assertion that Freemasons were involved in devil worship.”

Besides the Freemasons, the inquiry also indicted the Theosophy Society, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the New Age Movement, the then budding Matatu culture and music, Lucifer Golfing Society and transcendental meditation practices.

But the report was done in by its composition- mainly church leaders chaired by Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima. Although they went around interviewing people, including the Freemasons, they were criticised for being prejudiced by their beliefs and practices.

“They seemed to use every trick to convince the Commission that they were not in fact devil worshippers,” the report said of alleged devil worshippers while affirming that the practice existed in Kenya “both in learning institutions and the society.”

A witness told the inquiry that Freemasons frequented their temples to seek help from their master Satan to protect their ill-gotten wealth and positions. Members tended to be influential people in society, wealthy and secretive people.

The inquiry said their experiential tour of the masonic hall along Nyerere Road left them more inclined to believe it was a devil worship enterprise. They said the symbols and signs they saw there- compass, pentagram, and The Star of David among others, rhymed with those associated with devil worship.

“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 claimed.

Almost all the organisations named, including the Freemasons dismissed the report. Theosophical Society of Kenya, Matatu Owners Association, and the Mormons all said the Commission was grossly misguided. Walter Ookok, a Freemason official said they were disappointed at the turn of events despite explaining themselves and taking the Commission through their hall.

He nevertheless admitted to ritual dramas and ancient mason customs and tools but said they were deployed only as allegorical guides to pass teachings. He also said Freemasons were free to come out and confess their membership.

“We are surprised and disappointed,” Ookok was quoted. Twenty-three years later on Sunday, lawyer Ambrose Rachier came out to state he was a Freemason.

Jehovah Witness leadership claimed the mainstream church composition of the Commission was jealous of them. They claimed the big churches were worried that they were losing church membership in droves.

A Nairobi-based German school which emphasised arts- poetry, painting, drama and sculpture - complained it was unfairly indicted. Rudolf Steiner School had been described in the report as one of the gateways to occult practices.

“The Theosophical Society is composed of students, belonging to any religion in the world or to none, who are united by their approval of the society’s Objects, by their wish to remove religious antagonisms, and to draw together men of goodwill whatsoever their religious opinion, and by their desire to study religious truths and to share the results of their studies with others,” an advert by Theosophical Society explained.

Another society which received quite a rapping by the Commission was the Lucifer Golfing Society, popular in Commonwealth countries. Lawyer G.K Waruhiu said the Commission had fallen for his tongue-in-cheek invitation  to probe the society and thereby exposed their “stunning naivette and simplicity.”

“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 lawyer dared them.

Lucifer Golfing Society is a club that began in 1920s in UK and comprised of men who would enjoy each other’s company playing golf and late in fine dining. When the Kenya Golfing Society was formed in 1930 as an offshoot of Kenya Golf Union (KGU), three of its honorary members were officials of the Lucifer Golfing Society.

The three were Sir H. Greer the President, Mr. Todd the treasurer and Carlton Levick the honorary secretary.

Rev. Timothy Njoya dismissed the report as a total waste of money and time. Raila Odinga, then the MP Lang’ata, complained that the report was sat on for years when it was funded by the public for public benefit and consumption.

The Commission's methodology was obviously underwhelming. From the premises of witness accounts, substantive conclusions were drawn. And because the accounts were detailed, they were presumed compelling by the committee.

One witness in Nyeri, a girl claimed to commune with demons, transform into a man and visit masonic temples to participate in the rituals. Another young man from Kisii claimed to have taken part in occult rituals at a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall in Nairobi while another girl in Embu claimed to have indulged in occult rituals in Keruguoya town.

But it was their simplistic inferences on ownership of sleek cars, displays of opulence and philanthropy that galvanised critics.

“The people who made the allegations were from all the provinces of Kenya, and they, therefore, ould not have colluded to make the same allegations,” the report said.

Moi had commissioned the inquiry on October 14, 1994, to investigate the veracity of the claims that devil worship was rife in Kenya. It was presented to the president on July 12, 1995, but Moi sat on it saying it contained sensitive information.

Besides Kirima, other members of the Commission 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 and lawyer Fred Ojiambo.