End of the world that never was

Siduhumi, Kenya - On February 13 members of a religious sect at Siduhumi village in Butula division of Busia district converged at the home of Margaret Okumu, one of its members, expecting the world to end in five days.

The sect, whose followers include 14 families, said God told them that Jesus Christ would be coming on February 18. In anticipation of the event, many sold most of their assets.

Still sinful

Neighbours watched the goings-on in disbelief as sect members donned ceremonial sack cloth and prayed as they waited for the arrival of Jesus Christ.

However, February 18 came and went, and the world did not end. Even as the sect members took off their sackcloth in resignation, the area assistant chief Pius Opate went to Mrs Okumu’s house and ordered the members to return to their homes or face arrest.

“We fear that the sect members could do something harmful to themselves. They are good people, but we must take precautions,” Mr Opate said.

In March 2000 more than 500 members of a sect burnt alive in a church in Kanugu in southwestern Uganda after their leaders ordered them to sell their possessions and await the end of the world.

The Butula sect members believe God speaks to them through Linet Mubusu. When interviewed, Mrs Musubu said God told her Christ did not come and the world did not end because some sect members were sinful. All questions sect members might have about religious issues are directed to her.

To prepare for the five days of prayer as they waited for the end of the world, Mrs Mubusu said God revealed the sinfful members to her, and she fined them so they could be cleansed.

The money, Mrs Mubusu said, was used to buy food and other items to sustain the group during the five days of waiting.

Mrs Mubusu, whose husband was also a member of the sect, said their religious group has no name because after the mention of the seven churches in the New Testament Book of Revelation, there was no need for churches to have a name.

She added that the religious sect had no leadership structure and anyone could lead the service of the sect at any given time.

The sect has no central place of worship and holds prayers in the homes of members.

“We have been praying for the end of the world and arrival of Jesus Christ since 1982, and we had hoped that he would come this week. And though he has failed to, we will continue to pray,” she said.

She said that the sect began in Bumula division in Bungoma South district and was started by William Brahman before it was taken over by Julius Teng’o. The founders of the church have since died.

Her sister in-law, Francisca Atsieno who is a Catholic, said their beliefs could cause more damage to society than good.

In 2007 in Naivasha members of The House of Yahweh dug caves in which they awaited the end of the world. But it did not and eventually they left the caves.