‘I escaped from the camp’: a survivor’s account

Moses Niwagaba narrowly survived the Kanungu Kibwetere massacre. He told Francis Niwagaba his story.

“Kibwetere was a dark skinned mzee; very tall and welcoming who could not take any alcoholic drink. I was his follower for only two months.

I joined the cult because of my uncle’s ill advice that the world was ending in 2000.

‘Moses this earthly life is short and very soon it is ending. It is up to you to prepare for your heavenly life now’. He constantly urged me to join him whenever I would visit him at the camp. My uncle was one of the burnt followers.

Every category of persons existed at the camp. Among others were policemen, teachers (like my uncle), priests, Protestants and Muslims.

An ordinary day begun with prayer in the morning. We would then go to our fields and work till late in the afternoon. There was a free hour after the work but still it was dedicated to reflection. Every one was supposed to keep quiet. Any person with a grievance would write it on a paper and forward it to Credonia.

As a general rule not every one would talk to the visitors. It was the priests who did the welcoming of visitors who would sit in the visitor’s room, which was in the main administration block. We were not supposed to enter the administration block. It is only Kibwetere’s cooks who would visit the place.

Married people were denied their right to consummate.

Credonia insisted that sex was the root cause of the breach of the sixth commandment. ‘God has cursed sex that is why he sent Aids to kill those who indulge in it,’ she insisted. And thus all those who wanted to remain holy and go to heaven at the right time, which she said was imminent, were not supposed to have sex. Men were separated from women and there were two separate dormitories. In spite of this, men and women still met and fornicated discreetly. The latrine was usually the meeting point.

For the little time we had for sleeping, we would sleep on papyrus mats at times without blankets. Blankets were for the few who were known to Kibwetere and those were usually the people who had contributed a lot of money and property. Every one was supposed to sell all their property and the proceeds would be brought to the camp.

The worst sin was for an individual to refuse to sell all their property or lie to the administrators about the proceeds from the sale of property.

We were all supposed to be in our uniforms. The new recruits like myself had to put on black while those who had mastered the Ten Commandments were putting on white and green uniforms.

Prayer was a substitute for medicine. We used to pray for all the sick people in the camp. At times they would get healed, but for serious cases like malaria and diarrhoea the patients died especially the children. Immediately all the deceased persons had to be buried. I think at times even those who still had a chance of survival would be declared dead.

One morning Credonia preached to me and said that sex was a curse and people who indulge in it would be finished by Aids. In my interpretation of the Bible I knew that it was a blessing from God. I opposed her and she cursed me that I was going to die the following week. She threw a piece of soap at me and that is why I escaped from the camp and went back home. I thank God for the events that happened on that day, for I would not be alive today.

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The Monitor, Uganda
Mar. 18, 2005
Franci Niwagaba

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday March 18, 2005.
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