Unmasking the Freemasons
By Patrick Mathangani
To many people, the Nairobi freemason’s hall along Nyerere Road is a byword for evil.
The white building, which is partly hidden by trees, is discussed in hushed tones as conspiracy theories fly over what actually happens inside.
The Freemanson Bible
It is seen as an underworld cult with strange practices, whose members are sworn to secrecy.
The movement is shrouded in secrecy and was indeed subject of an investigation by a presidential commission in the 1990s to probe claims of devil worship.
However, The Underworld was able to access the hall and got an interview with VK Talwar, the district grand master for East Africa.
Inside the hall, a big volume of the Bible lay on a table in front of the seat reserved for the freemason’s district grand master.
Atop the Bible lay a compass and a square, which were so arranged to form Masonic symbols.
Known to freemasons as the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Bible is always present in the room where members conduct their ceremonies.
The front view of the Freemasons Hall in Nairobi.
It is here in this room that new members are taken through several "initiation" ceremonies, and Masonic beliefs are imparted.
The front view of the Freemasons Hall in Nairobi.
The Bible is never read during these ceremonies, says our guide, who is a freemason and a member of the Nairobi lodge.
"We use it to moralise," he says. However, it is used when new members take oaths.
Inside this hall, members conduct ancient ritual dramas, which are a source of awe and mystery.
In the room where ceremonies are conducted, a stencil of letter G hangs conspicuously from the ceiling, where it is fastened on metal chains.
To a lot of people, the letter stands for The Great Architect of the Universe, the Supreme Being allegedly recognised by freemasons.
Talwar, however, strongly disputes those claims. He says it simply stands for geometry, a crucial aspect of practicing masons.
A compass and square are also important tools for masons.
He says no form of worship ever goes on in the halls.
To become a member, one must believe in a supreme being, he says.
Since members profess different religions, there is no single supreme being recognised by freemasons.
"Whatever it is you believe in is not our concern, we don’t interfere with that. All somebody has to say is that he’s not an atheist. If you are an atheist, you can’t become a freemason," says Talwar.
"Any other religion you believe in, whatever is your form of belief, it’s your choice. We believe that if you believe in a creator, you’ll have respect for each other. And because we allow people from different religions to join, you’ll learn to respect each other’s religion, to be tolerant toward each other," he adds.
Symbolism takes a central role in freemasonry.
Opposite the seat reserved for the district grand master is another whose occupant during ceremonies symbolises the "aspect of the universe".
On the table is a miniature pulley. Beside it is a long metallic rod with the symbol of dove at the top.
There is yet another seat on one end, which, according to our guide, symbolises "the aspect of the earth".
All these items are used for "moralising," as morals are also highly regarded among freemasons. To become a member, one must be of high moral standards.
The pulley, he explains, stands for the empowering role of education or knowledge.
He says no rituals take place in the halls. However, participants may sing songs, which are however, not religious.
Talwar says freemasonry is not a religion and it is not involved in any form of worship. He says it is not involved in "devil worship" and cites that the presidential commission did not find any evidence against it.
Dr VK Talwar, Freemason’s District Grand Master for East Africa.
However, the commission, which was headed by the late Catholic archbishop Nichodemus Kirima, recommended more investigations.
Talwar notes that most of the rumours about the organisation were started by the church, which viewed it as a rival.
"Well, the church had a role to play, because at one time, the church regarded Freemasonry as competitors. And we explained that position to the church, that we’re not a religion. But it’s up to them, whether they accept that standard we have," he notes.
He adds: "If you tell someone that we did not do this, and they do not want to believe you, what do you do?"
For a long time, the church has battled freemasons.
In Kenya, the Presbyterian Church of East Africa leaders have condemned it and urged Christians to stay away.
Six years ago, the church carried advertisements saying freemasonry is not compatible with Christianity.
"Freemasons worship a god called Jabuloni. The god is also referred to as GAOTU, which at times is represented by the symbol capital G," the church said in a statement signed by the then moderator David Githii and secretary general Samuel Muriguh.
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