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Wednesday, August 4, 1999 Published at 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK

World: Africa

Devil worship 'widespread' in Kenya

The same things were said at public hearings across the country

A presidential inquiry has concluded that devil worship is commonplace in Kenya and has recommended establishing a special police force to investigate crimes of the occult.

Archbishop Kirima: "Satanism is not forbidden by any law"
The report says its tentacles reach into schools, churches and even government offices, with an assistant minister and his wife cited as known satanists.

Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima, who chaired the commission of senior religious leaders, told the BBC that their investigation was launched to find out whether devil worship was linked to ritualised killings or other unlawful activities.

It was presented to the president as long ago as 1995, but has still not been released publicly and was only recently made available to religious leaders.

Human sacrifice

The commission's report, which was extensively quoted by Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, says that self-declared devil worshippers gave consistent details of ceremonies and rituals.

[ image:  ]
It said satanic rituals include the presence of snakes, drinking human blood, eating human flesh and human sacrifice.

Sexual abuse and rape, especially of children, is also a feature, their report says.

It added that the visible presence of scars, tattoos and other marks on the bodies of the witnesses provided evidence of devil worshipping cults.

The report concluded that because of the consistency of the stories emanating from a cross-section of society including pastors, officials, politicians, and students, they must be true and should be taken very seriously.

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

Participation in religious groups is widespread across Kenya with a huge variety of official and unofficial churches and sects.

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