Unhealthy obsession with religion and the upsurge of deadly cults

By - Jun 5th 2023

In 2017, I was in a media team that covered the funeral service of Gen Joseph Nkaissery, who was Interior CS in Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.

We arrived late at the former minister’s residence. in Ilbisil, Kajiado County and thus could not get space in the main tent, where the service was taking place, seeing as the president was also in attendance.

I settled for following the proceedings from outside the tent. Former CGS Samson Mwathethe was addressing the mourners when something weird happened. A smartly dressed gentleman jumped into the podium and made for Nkaissery’s casket.

Police were at hand to apprehend the man and swiftly took him outside. I followed them to a secluded corner, where the man was being interrogated. He told the police that God had ordered him to come and pray for the departed minister so that he could rise from the dead!

The man who tried to resurrect Nkaissery through prayer is not alone in his delusion. There are many others, with similarly dangerous religious convictions, living among us. And they are always looking for the slightest opportunity to act out their wild fantasies.

While some could be suffering some form of mental illnesses, many others are criminals hiding behind the veil of religion to prey on unsuspecting victims.

For the past two weeks, Kenyans have been treated to ghoulish scenes of bodies being exhumed in a forest in Malindi; victims of a demented ‘pastor’ who lured them to their deaths with promises of ‘meeting’ Jesus.

What we have seen in Shakahola are not the actions of a random religious fanatic, but the well-calculated moves of a serial killer. Stories filtering out of Shakahola speak of a well-orchestrated scheme to lure the poor victims. They are convinced to sell their property and join ‘Pastor’ Makenzi’s cult. Not only that; they are also made to destroy their identification papers as well as birth and professional certificates.

Stripped of their identities, the people joining the Shakahola cult are basically reduced to mere statistics; they do not exist. When they join Makenzi in the forest, he proceeds to put in motion the final stage of their disappearance: death.

Police have confessed that they will have a difficult time trying to identify the bodies of those being exhumed. That is how Makenzi wanted it; faceless victims buried in unmarked graves, thereby making it equally difficult to pin him down in a court of law.

It is also emerging that some people who tried to escape from Makenzi’s tentacles were strangled to death. This revelation alone rubbishes the initial narrative that the victims willingly starved themselves to death. Makenzi should thus be treated for what he truly is; a mass murderer and a serial killer.

Now, the proliferation of dangerous cults like those led by Makenzi is the direct result of a nation’s unhealthy obsession with religion. We are living in an age where anyone who professes to perform ‘miracles’ is elevated to instant celebrity status. The limelight these characters enjoy among the masses is not deserved at all. They contribute absolutely nothing to the national economy, especially now that the country is on the verge of going bankrupt.

This worrying trend of blind adulation of ‘men and women of God’ has seen all manner of ‘prophetic ministries’ mushrooming all over, most presided over by shady characters, at times, outright fraudsters.

The other day the country was treated to the shocking story of a woman ‘bishop’ whose body was found in the house of her bishop boyfriend, in Kahawa West, in a suspected love triangle.

Haven’t we also seen the nauseating glorification of a ten-year-old boy lionised for being a ‘prophet’? This kid should be in school, working hard at his studies and sweating it in the playground, with his age mates; not anywhere near a pulpit.

You only need to look at how the 2022 electoral campaigns were conducted to realise how powerful churches and pastors have become. Every Sunday, politicians trooped to churches to pledge loyalty and part with substantial amounts of money in the form of offerings and tithes.

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