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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 17:12 GMT
Ugandan cult member's warning
The Ugandan newspaper Sunday Vision republished an article on the Restoration of the Ten Commandments cult, originally printed in May last year as the group prepared for the new millennium and what it believed was the end of the world.
The following is the text of the article by reporter Matthias Mugisha:
"The world ends next year. There is no time to waste," Emmanuel Twinomujuni says when asked why he is no longer in school. Twinomujuni, 19, like his colleagues in the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments cult, moves about penniless, looks poverty-stricken and leads a life of hard labour and prayer.
"Some of our leaders talk directly to God. Any minute from now when the end comes, every believer who will be at a yet undisclosed spot will be saved." Twinomujuni says the spot is known only by the cult leaders who talk to God.
The cult's headquarters, called "Ishayuriro rya Maria" (Rescue place for the Virgin Mary), is believed to be the "Holy Land". It is located in Kanungu in Rukungiri District. Its leader is a former Democratic Party (DP) activist in the area, Joseph Kibwetere. He and his assistants had gone to preach when Sunday Vision visited the "holy land".
Jerimaya Kabateriene, a trained teacher, says, "This is not a religious sect. It is a movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments have been distorted. We are putting them right," he continued.
He said the movement was founded around 1987 when, one night, an elderly former Catholic church catechist, the late Paul Kashaku, had a vision. He saw Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and Joseph. The trio sent the old man on a mission to make people repent. By an inexplicable coincidence, many people started getting such visions and later came together to write a book.
"Okuwhaho Kwobusinge Obu" (The End of This Generation), became the foundation on which the movement is based. The book has 16 chapters, including several doctrines which are opposed to the teaching of the Catholic Church. According to the list in the book, 28 copies of it were sent to various personalities and institutions, including the Pope, President [Yoweri] Museveni and the editor of The New Vision.
Kabateriene says the movement has hundreds of members throughout the world. "The Catholic Church does not want us," he said, adding that it is because the movement challenges the Church for ignoring some of the commandments. He did not say which commandments are being ignored.
Fr Christopher Businge of Makiro Parish, located a few kilometres from Ishayuriro rya Maria, says Canon Law No 1374 states that "...one who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty: One who promotes or moderates such an association however is to be punished with interdiction."
Though the movement includes people from various beliefs, the majority are [former] Catholics including two priests, Fr Dominic Kataribaho and Joseph Kasapurari. A former member, Fr Paul Ikaze, has since returned to the Catholic Church.
Cult members rarely talk, choosing their few words carefully for fear of breaking commandment No. 8, "Thou shalt not lie".
The question of selling property is clarified in their book. "If it is time to collect money, those who have should pay, those without should sell part of their property, and those with a calling abandon the earthly life to go and preach like the 12 apostles of Jesus."
In spite of its belief that the end is near, the movement opened a primary boarding school. However, it was indefinitely closed by Rukungiri District Administration in November 1998 for "engaging in acts that violated the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Local Government Act and the Public Health regulations".
Sunday Vision saw the letter ordering the closure of the school, which was signed by the Chief Administrative Officer Rukungiri District, Frank Ntaho, to the leader of the movement.
"While further investigations to bring you to book are still going on, the District Council has decided to stop your operation as a school with immediate effect."
"The children are only given porridge for lunch, they sleep on the bare floor without blankets and mattresses, look malnourished and are subjected to child labour while some are staying with you without their parents' knowledge," the letter added.
But Kabateriene, who taught at the school, blamed the closure on doctored photographs. "A cameraman came with school inspectors and manipulated his machine to show our toilets full while in fact they were half full. Otherwise we have the best classroom blocks in the area," he said.
The District Education Officer, Zabuloni Bakeiha, said part of the school's curriculum was not acceptable to Uganda's education system. "Education does not prepare for the end of the world," he said.
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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