The events of March 17, 2000 are forever etched in my mind, the terror and horror was shocking, more than 700 people crammed up in a place that used to be there place of ‘worship’; only charred remains now permanently interred in mass graves. They had congregated to welcome or meet their maker. It had been nearly 3 months past the date which had earlier been communicated since the year 2000 had started; the world did not end as they had been promised so they waited anxiously.
Whereas there’s no evidence of any survivor who walked out of that inferno, stories recounted by members of the cult that survived the spoke of the bizzare goings, but why was there no action taken by state actors? The police, Internal Security and all other organs that carry out intelligence? Why was there no one to smell the rat? Was it too much ‘freedom of association and of worship’? A series of poisonings and killings that were either a group suicide or an orchestrated mass murder by group leaders after their predictions of the apocalypse failed to come about.
The security apparatus of Uganda was taken aback by what had happened, the total intelligence failure and subsequent discoveries of bodies in pit latrines in former residences or places used by the cult leadership. The Uganda Police has to this date never concluded its investigation in the matter or declared it a cold case. The last pronouncement by the police was that Kibwetere was in Malawi, they have never caused his arrest or followed it up.
The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a breakaway religious movement from the Roman Catholic Church founded by Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere and others in Uganda. This Doomsday cult was formed in the late 1980s after Mwerinde, a brewer of banana beer, and Kibweteere, a politician, claimed that they had visions of the Virgin Mary. The five primary leaders were Joseph Kibweteere, Joseph Kasapurari, John Kamagara, Dominic Kataribabo, and Credonia Mwerinde.
Previous cults elsewhere like that of James Warren “Jim” Jones, who was an American cult leader. Ordained as a Disciples of Christ pastor, Jones founded and led the Peoples Temple. In 1978, the cult came to a gruesome end in mass murder-suicide of 918 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan, and the ordering of four additional Temple member deaths in Georgetown, the Guyanese capital. Nearly three hundred children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of them by poisoning. Jones died from a gunshot wound to the head; it is suspected his death was a suicide.
Other examples of cults ending badly include; David Koresh’s Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, where 87 died in 1993; the Order of the Solar Temple in Canada, Switzerland, and France, where 75 died in 1994, 1995, and 1997; Shoko Asahara’s Aum Shinrikyo, which killed 12 in Tokyo, Japan, in 1995; Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate in San Diego, California, where 39 died in 1997. It is interesting to note that David Koresh claimed that he was a final Prophet of that sect.
Today, the tale-tell signs are there, the cults are back, I hope that this time the State through its security organs especially intelligence organizations are alert. The freedoms enshrined in the constitution are being abused. The modern cults today run by millennials are polished, run but white-collar crooks whose methods are highly evolved, they trade in miracles, fortune telling, holy water, holy rice and not directly coercive and brutal as the ones of the former times, the masqueraders as ‘Prophets’, ‘ Bishops’ ‘Apostles’ are all in plain view. They are so clever they’ve fooled the State, and now are in intercourse taking the sheeple and others for the ride, they even need police and military escort to transact business, how did we get to this point?
These masterful con artists dress sharply, they have horned their skills of oration to near spell-binding proportions, brilliant marketers who use the media both traditional like the radio and television; and more modern platforms of social media like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to bait people while taking advantage of their gullibility brought on by limited prospects in life, poverty driven by unemployment. It is a sad tale.
The politicians need them for their potential political capital; but this situation breed a quasi spiritual bondage that holds all those players captive. Church or spiritual sects must be separated from the state I call for vigilance from all stakeholders, let us keep eyes and ears open, so that another Kibwetere is averted.