Face to face with leader of House of Yahweh doomsday sect

About 10 healthy grade cows and nearly 20 lambs graze gracefully in the expansive green pasture under the watchful eyes of herdsboys.

At the centre of this lush and productive land, which overlooks a permanent stream, are two homesteads facing each other. This is Murungaru location of Kinangop Division, about 40km from Naivasha Town.

It is from one of these homesteads that a confident, elderly man emerges to greet his visitors. Despite his 64 years and pot-belly, he looks quite fit. He walks briskly as if to testify to good living.

This is Mr Eliezer Kamotho, the local leader of the controversial House of Yahweh sect that has been in the limelight since its prophesy of the end of the world came to nought. The two homesteads belong to his wives Teresiah Wanjiru and Jane Nyokabi.

Although he does not offer us a handshake because he says it is against his faith, Mr Kamotho showers us with gestures to show that he is happy to see us, although he has a bone to pick with the media.

We find him in the bathroom a few metres from one of the main houses, and he gets into the house through a back door. A little drama is later played as the wives search for the shirt of his taste. Ms Nyokabi, in whose house he is dressing, is sent to Ms Wanjiru’s to ask her to get him a yellow shirt. But he rejects it, insisting on one with yellow dots. The wives are confused, but he finally accepts one with yellow stripes.

Mr Kamotho says his sect has been bastardised and his personal reputation questioned because of what he calls misleading media reports. “We never said the world would end on September 12,” he says. “I’m surprised that there are many reports attributed to me, yet I have never spoken to the media houses.

“If the end of the world was coming, those in the bunkers would also perish, so it would be foolhardy for me to tell my followers to hide in bunkers.”

Our visit does not surprise him. Many journalists have been visiting him since the world failed to end as predicted. But he has been very skimpy with interviews as he accuses journalists of putting him on a collision course with the Provincial Administration and police. A Nyahururu court has bonded him to keep the peace for two years.

“I’m a man on the spot and everybody looks at me suspiciously,” he says. “I have had police visiting my home and putting me in cells. They have been investigating if there are bunkers on my farm, yet I have been very open in the pursuance of my religious faith. “That’s why I don’t want to speak to the Press.”

But he speaks when cajoled. He is not a doomsdayer, he says; he was only alerting people about what is written in the “Book of Yahweh” — a major catastrophe would befall the world from September 12.

“It will be a nuclear fallout from the Middle East crisis,” he had said. “More than four-fifths of the people along River Euphrates will die. Many more in the world will die from the effects of the nuclear fallout and radioactivity.”

People need to be adequately prepared, he warns, and wonders if the warning was a breach of the peace.

When news spread that he had warned people about the end of the world and allegedly advised them to dig bunkers, police came calling. They questioned him and then whisked him and a follower away to the Nyahururu police station, where he was detained for two days. He was charged and bonded to keep the peace.

On Monday, when the “world was to end,” Mr Kamotho was in Nyahururu to complain to the police that he had again been misquoted, and that the reports could put him in hot soup again.

He is an ardent reader and has great memory. He does not want to argue about his sect’s prophesy of doom by mere words. He dashes to his house and comes back with the Book of Yahweh and reads to us several verses that he claims support the prophesy.

He dashes back into the house and brings more books and magazines as well as agreements. Among the texts are the bulky Preparing for the Prophesied Global Warfare and the Peaceful Solution.

He also has the Oslo Accord — the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine and Arabs in general. He has a book on diet titled For Your Pleasure, Yahweh Does Wonders with Food. To ward off the nuclear effects, all one needs is to eat healthy foods, he says. “These are enough to protect one. We advise people to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits to boost their immunity against the nuclear reaction.

The historical events

He remembers historical events as if he were reading them from his palm. Despite his great memory, he seems lost when it comes to the number of children by his wife No. 2 Jane Nyokabi. “Hi!” he calls out to Ms Nyokabi who is in the kitchen making tea. “How many do you have?” he asks her cheekily. She says she has 11, most of them grown-ups. The other has five.

The point he is trying to make is that he is a peaceful man who is only demonised because of his warnings to the world. He also accuses former sect members of misrepresenting the doctrines.

He did not advise anybody to dig bunkers, he says, although it is one way of countering the nuclear fallout and protecting one from radioactivity. He has not advised any member to dispose of property because the world is coming to an end. “Look at my shamba,” he tells us. “Aren’t normal activities going on? Have I sold my goats or cows? Can you see any bunkers here?”

He then leads us to one of his daughters who has just arrived from school. He nudges her to tell us if his father has ever told her to stop going to school to await the end of the world.

Mr Kamotho says he learned about the Yahweh sect from a magazine. “After studying it, I learned that I was a lost man,” he recalls. “There was a big difference between the Bible as I knew it and the Book of Yahweh. The Book of Yahweh is a direct translation of the Hebrew manuscript.”

But he does blink when he says the Christian Bible is full of lies and omissions. The supreme being he says he has learnt is Yahweh and not the God of Christians. “We have many gods — spiritual, flesh and material. The Christian gods are spiritual and they include angels and Satan.”

He denies he is blasphemous or speaking to please anybody. His is to tell the truth as Yahweh would want it. And House of Yahweh does not believe in Jesus Christ; it believes in Yahshua.

Apostolic Faith Church

Mr Kamotho was a member of the Apostolic Faith Church before he decamped in 1998 along with his wives. None of his children is a follower of the sect, though. He has educated most of them to the college and university levels, and says he cannot force them to follow his religion.

When he changed religions, he wrote to the sect headquarters in Texas, the US, which sent leaders to baptise him and other new followers.

Mr Kamotho still does not consider himself a leader; he is only a contact person. “We only have one pastor or overseer who is called Yisrayl Hawkins; all others are contact persons,” he says.

He seems to know little about other followers in the country, even those in Kericho and Nakuru where the digging of bunkers is going on. He used to visit them once in a while, but his bond seems to have loosened somewhat.

Particular worship places

The organisation does not have particular places of worship, but carries out prayers at the faithful’s homes.

A former accounts clerk and manager of local farmers’ societies, Mr Kamotho is well known in Murungaru area, especially because of the controversy. But the people do not avoid or fear him. Instead, they and others from afar flock to his home for a chat about the alleged end of the world or farming.

His ever generous wives make pots and pots of tea and mukimo (mashed maize, beans and greens) for visitors. After we have had our fill of regale ourselves in the mukimo and are set to leave, Ms Nyokabi won’t let us before washing it down with steaming hot tea.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday September 18, 2006.
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