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CHURCHES: Security agencies should ensure another Kanungu is avoided

Police in East Kyoga have received 101 people of Christ disciples church from Nakuru, Kenya. The said individuals were allegedly on their way to Ethiopia to spread the Gospel in their “ancestral Homeland”

COMMENT | Samson Tinka |  Kenyan police have exhumed over 100 of bodies from graves that have since been connected to a Christian pastor, who is being investigated on allegations that he directed his congregants to starve themselves to death.

Many of the victims are believed to have been members of the Good News International Church, a “suspected religious cult,” according to a statement from Kenya’s Police chief Japhet Koome. The small sect, based near the town of Malindi, is led by a pastor, Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who has been arrested.

Police also rescued more than 15 people from his property, four of whom were in critical condition and died soon after.

The incident brings back memories of Uganda, around 2000, when over 700 people were killed in a church in western Uganda at place-currently called Kanungu district. To date no person has ever been apprehended to answer charges of murder and other associated charges.

The ringleaders Keredonia Mwerinde, Kibwetere, Kataribabo and others are still at large.

The bible has previously been misused to support slavery and colonization. Decades after independence, it seems nothing has changed and it is being used to claim new victims.

Africa and other parts of the world continue to see injustices, deaths, fraud, thefts, immorality, and false prophecies in the name of Christianity. We continue to witness many churches coming up but a few schools and hospitals being constructed.

Pastors and their cohorts drive posh cars, sleep in million dollar houses, own expanse farms, rent out malls and arcades, fill their closets and wardrobes with signature clothes imported from Europe especially Italy and France.

We continue to see pastors selling holy waters, handkerchiefs, mats, wristbands, necklaces all in the name of holy spirit, protection, covering you with blood of Jesus. Women and men of God as they are commonly called have abandoned their careers, businesses, small income generating activities and ventures, to fully attend their church activities that include singing, praying and cell visits.

These activities are so good but they do not bring in any income in our homes and the cost of living has never come down.

The number of born-again churches in Uganda has grown exponentially in the last decade. Today the country is estimated to have more than 40,000 born-again churches across the country. Of that number, only under 500 churches  have decent premises and are registered as non-governmental organisations and allowed to conduct marriage functions. The majority of the churches dotting the country are in makeshift structures built with papyrus, or mud and wattle with grass-thatched roofs.

However, in the upscale parts of cities and towns, churches for the affluent are housed in magnificent buildings where they compete for prime space with banks, insurance firms and top local and international business enterprises. Elsewhere in the poor neighborhoods, the churches are in ramshackle premises.

Unlike establishments owned by the mainstream Anglican Church of Uganda, born-again churches are a property of individual pastors.

“Christianity is under assault from conmen,” echoes Reverend Dr Andrew David Omona, a scholar at the Bishop Tucker School of Theology and Divinity, Uganda Christian University.

Omona argues that because of the deep social and economic troubles facing Ugandans, fake pastors have taken advantage, preaching appealing messages to vulnerable followers. These pastors claim they can bring wealth to the poor, cure the terminally ill, give children to the barren, provide jobs to the jobless and partners to those seeking marriage.

“They are told to ‘sow seeds’ commensurate with their prayer requests and those who fail to comply are shunned,” he added.

Members of the congregation are also cautioned that failing to part with 10% of their monthly income to pay a tithe is a grave sin. In addition, the brethren, as they are fondly referred to, are reminded that giving big offertory and substantial financial support to their churches is abundantly rewarded by God, says Oumo.

Security agencies-Wake up

Security agencies especially in Uganda have in my opinion not upped the game on church activities. There are silent on the fate of bleeding Ugandan churchgoers. They have been impoverished; brain washed and continue to lose their earnings and savings.

Ideally, there is no law or regulation that stops Pastors from acquiring riches, but at what cost? We have seen Fathers, brothers, reverends abandoning their original churches and start their private churches.

Security teams especially crime intelligence, ISO need pick it up and this time with a solid agenda. You can even create a special division to handle churches especially born again churches. We are seated on a time bomb.

Kibwetere and Pastor Nthenge of Kenya are good examples to trigger a deliberate, calculated action on balokole churches. FIA can aid you with their financial history. We see a lot of monitoring on NGOs, the same efforts should be replicated on churches.

Terrorists are not only those that carry fire arms, bombs and bullets; we have civil terrorists that are currently carrying bibles and rosaries.

Spiritual movements that bear the hallmarks of the Kanungu cult, where devotees unquestioningly believe their pastors can resurrect the dead or that holy water will heal ailments, have continued to emerge across the continent.

The government needs to do more in overseeing these spiritual movements. What shall government tell the public if another Kibwetere massacre happenq. We seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten something.

Moslems, think and practice one fundamental thing, that the relationship between one and Allah is personal, it doesn’t require a middle man. That is why there are no individual personal mosques. We need to buy this ideal.

Churches should be highly and strictly regulated. We need an Act of parliament to help. The earlier the government firms up on it the better or else prepare for the second coming of Kibwetere.


 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo
















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