The escalating Middle East conflict has strengthened the convictions of a doomsday cult in central Kenya that believes the world will come to an end in September.
Members of the “House of Yahweh” sect here have begun selling off their belongings and preparing for Armageddon, attracting the attention of authorities concerned the group’s leaders may be taking advantage of believers.
“The goings-on now in Israel are a clear indication of what will happen,” says Ruth Wanjiku, a member of the Kenyan branch of the House of Yahweh that is based in the US state of Texas.
“This is the beginning of the end of the world as prophesied by the ‘Book of Yahweh’,” she says, referring to the group’s version of the Bible that holds Armageddon will begin on September 12.
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 10, 2000.
According to the prophesy, the end of the world will begin that day when the United States moves to protect Israel, sparking a war that sucks in nuclear powers China, North Korea, Iran, India and Pakistan, as well as non-nuclear state Sudan.
Recent developments in the Middle East, with Israel attacking militant positions in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, have only bolstered the group’s assertions.
“There will be a ‘nuclear winter’ with temperatures dropping to below zero degrees centigrade (32 Fahrenheit) and killing all non-believers,” Wanjiku says, explaining the group’s belief that conflict in the Middle East will cause the apocalypse.
“The high nuclear concentration will slowly move to low-concentration areas and this is how lives will be wiped from the face of the earth,” adds fellow member Dominic Karichu.
In order to survive, believers are selling off possessions to build massive mud bunkers and store food, moves that have alarmed officials in Kinangop, a small trading post about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Nairobi.
“Since we cannot risk staying in our houses after September 12, we are selling them to finance the bunkers and food,” Wanjiru said.
It was not immediately clear if other branches of the House of Yahweh were taking similar preparations to the group’s Kenyan followers but local officials said they will take action against any unscrupulous behavior.
Authorities said they had ordered village chiefs and police to arrest House of Yahweh leaders who instruct members to sell their homes and other possessions.
“Some people could be taking advantage of this to fleece the unsuspecting faithful and we are not going to leave anything to chance,” said Nyandarua district commissioner Khamasi Shivogo.