73 members of a Kenyan cult, influenced by their religious guru, perished from starvation after enduring several days of fasting. The leader of the group, Mackenzie Nthenge, encouraged vulnerable individuals, including children, to abstain from food and drink in the pursuit of encountering their deity, Jesus Christ.
The world was stunned on Friday as news emerged of the discovery of 47 exhumed bodies in Shakahola, located in the eastern part of Kenya. In the same forest, authorities later uncovered dozens of additional corpses.
Later on, dozens of other dead humans were found in the same forest.
Dying for the Christ
“We have found 73 bodies in the forest as of tonight, and the search for additional remains will continue tomorrow,” stated a police officer involved in the investigation to the AFP. The authorities were alerted by the discovery of a mass grave, believed to contain the bodies of several deceased individuals, including children.
The cult leader wielded immense influence over his followers, who were mostly isolated individuals easily susceptible to his manipulation. He handpicked individuals and exploited religion to persuade them to make the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice reminding of the 1978 mass suicide that occurred in Jamestown in the United States of America. The leader of the former cult forced all his members to drink poison. They died a few seconds later.
Mackenzie is in detention
Mackenzie has been in detention since April 15 and he voluntarily turned himself in to the authorities. He will face trial on May 2 in the Kenyan court system and stands accused of murder and religious terrorism. The pastor is alleged to have urged his adherents to forsake worldly possessions and eschew education and healthcare for their children in devotion to God, whom he used to destroy the life of his followers.
A Terrorist Cult?
Kenyan President William Ruto denounced the cult’s actions as “terrorism under the guise of religion.” He pledged to combat “terrorist cults” and safeguard society’s most vulnerable members.
Authorities plan to expand their search of the area where the bodies were found to ensure that no additional remains are present.
Edited by Adedamola Aregbesola
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