Rule of thumb: If the deal, promise appears to be too good, think twice

Saturday April 29 2023
Pastor Ezekiel Odero

Pastor Ezekiel Odero when he appeared in courts on April 28, 2023. He is being investigates over his alleged involvement in the Shakahola cult. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG


Mass graves in Kilifi cult attest to lack of accountability and greed feeding on humanity’s yearning for soul food

The world is shocked at what is happening in Kilifi County in Kenya. A cult that urges its members to fast so that they can see Jesus is littered with more than 100 bodies on premises of a cult disguised as a bona fide church. It is easy to ask why people are so gullible. Why do religious cults thrive?

Granted, even exposed people fall prey but the poor are the most vulnerable and susceptible. Let’s look at the impact of poverty on vulnerability.

What is poverty? How does it come? How can it be eliminated? Poverty has some basic characteristics like the lack of basic needs, lack of the ability to choose, the lack of control over one’s life, and the lack of a voice.

Basic needs

While basic needs may differ from person to person and from place to place, certain things are essential to life. A good, safe and healthy place to live, decent clothes and good food are the very least to be expected in life, but for the poor, this is never the case. The poor person cannot choose where to live, what to wear or eat. He has to eat what is available and wear what is available. Indeed, how true is that old saying that beggars have no choice. Perhaps one of the most tormenting aspects of poverty is the loss of control over one’s life. A poor man is at the mercy of everybody and doesn’t have the ability to influence the decisions that affect his life.


When all these attributes are in the mix, then people become vulnerable to anything perceived to make things better, including fasting to death for salvation as in the case of this cult. And when hunger knocks, logic shuts down.

The lack of proper teaching is one of the reasons some of these problems emerge. Who are these men accountable to? Everybody Jesus selected to follow him had a history. There were fishermen, a tax collector, and all others were engaged in one economic activity or the other. They had a trail of accountability from their past.

Common thread

Today, however, these cultists merely present themselves and people follow. But, who are they accountable to? Man is too adventurous and too dangerous to be left as an authority unto himself. When there are no structures of governance, there will be no accountability, and men can become like monsters.

That is clear in similar stories around the world where folks grow into monsters because there was no accountability and no one to call them to order.

There must have been tell-tale signs of disaster. But since there was no accountability, nobody to ask questions, nobody to put him in order, bred this disaster.

When a society elevates a religious belief that does not develop the mind and has no regard for the mind, then the mind becomes the canvas for any doctrine that appeals to need and greed. Even the Bible encourages Christians to test every spirit and prove all things but unfortunately people are not bothered as long as there is a promise that appeals to need and greed. The Bible also talks of the transforming of the mind.

The desire for someone tangible to worship that is visible also contribute. People want to see that person that represents what they aspire to be not matter how horrid, so long as their idol looks good, dresses well, and paints them a picture and promise that they will hold on to. And they will do anything they are told to do, no matter how absurd.

The early church had the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem to guide it. It is time to go back to good old accountability checks and balances.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of the Street University. E-mail: [email protected]