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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 19:35 GMT
Kenyan 'God' sent Aids as 'punishment'
Jehovah Wanyonyi and his followers
Wanyonyi asks humanity to change its evil ways
By Muliro Telewa in Mount Elgon

Jehovah Wanyonyi's worshippers fall face-down in the direction of the throne. A middle-aged man starts worshipping animatedly as if in a trance.

I am a poor man with more than 95 children to feed. Look at these children - they have not eaten anything this morning. I need 1,000 shillings ($13) to buy bread for them

Those who lead normal church services direct the faithful to worship God.

But in this particular case, the man at the head of the congregation is Jehovah Wanyonyi and to my astonishment he is being worshipped.

Seated erect on his throne with a statue-like smile on his face, he acknowledges the adoration with slow nods.


A man prays: "Almighty God, who was, is and always will be Jehovah. You are the one who spoke in the Holy Bible in Isaiah Chapter 11. We adore you because as you predicted, the end is near. We ask you to lead us to heaven..."

He carries on until the adoration switches to music.

It was scary approaching this 'God' for an interview.

Jehovah Wanyonyi
'God' wants $3.8m or he will curse all Kenyans

He must have noticed some confusion on my face for he beckoned me near his throne and spoke with a low voice.

"I am a poor man with more than 95 children to feed. Look at these children - they have not eaten anything this morning. I need 1,000 shillings ($13) to buy bread for them."

The 77-year-old Jehovah has more than 25 wives, some as young as 16, who have produced his 95 children.

Earthly food

We had no choice but to hand over more money to 'God', whose children were hungry for earthly food.

'God' says the slopes of Mount Elgon, near Kimalewa Trading Centre in Western Kenya, where he lives is sacred ground and also refers to it as Mount Zion.

Wanyonyi is a false prophet. He is one of those false prophets that were predicted in Bible

Pastor Julius Makona

He says that he came into being a very long time ago, "as is explained in the Bible".

Jehovah says that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to earth to convert humanity but human beings rejected him.

He says he has come himself this time, hoping to persuade them to change their evil ways.

If they do not change, he will send fire to consume the earth but all who acknowledge him as God will be spared.

Lucky couple

The few members of the cult I managed to speak to, told me they had witnessed Jehovah perform miracles.

One said that a man and his wife suffering from Aids had been brought before them in their last stages of death. The good 'God' blessed them and they were healed.

Jehovah Wanyonyi
He has 95 children by 25 wives

However, I did not meet this lucky couple to verify the story.

As the hundreds at Kimalewa continue believing that Mikaili Wanyonyi is Jehovah or God, some resident of the area have threatened to kill him if they lay their hands on him.

"Wanyonyi is a false prophet. He is one of those false prophets that were predicted in Bible," says Pastor Julius Makona of the Elgon Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

"This man (Wanyonyi) is not God. He is accumulating wealth at the expense of members of his faith. He forces people to work for him so that he can live and eat in comfort as other people toil," says another resident of Kimalewa, Patrick Wafula Busolo.

Wanyonyi says he treats all diseases, including Aids.

Heavenly kingdom

He even says that he brought this disease to earth as a punishment to humanity for defying his commandments.

Unless Wanyonyi breaks the law; there is nothing we can do

Government official

"If the Kenyan Government does not give me 3 billion shillings ($3.8m) I will bring a curse on Kenyans," he warns.

We leave the shanty home of Jehovah Wanyonyi having turned down an offer to be enlisted into his heavenly kingdom.

We walk out of the compound under escort of his saintly soldiers, mainly teenagers marching and playing military music.

'Lost Israelites'

His religion, with an estimated 1,000 people, has existed for more than 40 years and is currently registered under the name of "Lost Israelites".

Some resident of the area say he has influenced people to sell their land and squander the money, having convinced them that the end of the world was near.

Three members of his cult, on whose farm he has put up more than 30 thatched huts, say the land was theirs and they can do what they want with it.

Members of the provincial administration say they can do nothing to Jehovah Wanyonyi apart from telling people not to join his sect.

A government official, who declined to be named, said: "Unless Wanyonyi breaks the law; there is nothing we can do."

See also:

23 Apr 01 | Africa
Aids tests Kenyans' faith
30 Mar 00 | Africa
Priest who 'murdered' his flock
20 Mar 00 | Africa
Cults: Why East Africa?
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