The bond between a mother and her child is one of the most profound connections in human nature, a truth that was on heartrending display this week in the wake of the infamous Shakahola cult revelations in Kenya.
Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, self-styled pastor and leader of the Shakahola cult, was brought to the Shanzu courts amid mounting evidence of his manipulative grip on vulnerable followers. The saga took a personal turn when Baron Chahenza, one of the alleged lieutenants of Mackenzie, had an emotional reunion with his mother.
On May 8, in Malindi, Lilian Kabarika, a Kakamega county resident and mother of Baron, dissolved into tears as she saw her son for the first time since he disappeared. Baron, who had changed his name to Collins during his time with the cult, admitted to his mother his role in the cult, eliciting a wave of relief and grief from Kabarika.
“I asked him where his wife and children were, and he said he had left them in the forest but would return for them,” Kabarika shared, her eyes welling up with a mixture of hope and fear.
The Kenya Red Cross Society revealed that numerous families have come forward, sharing details about their kin’s connection to Mackenzie’s cult. These families reportedly lost touch with their loved ones around March 2023, which aligns with the suspected inception of the fasting cult.
Among these distressed families is Josphat Khaemba from Kitale, who has been tirelessly seeking information about his son, Titus Mulinge. Titus, his wife, and children have been missing since their last phone conversation over a month ago.
“After hearing news about the cult, I was unable to reach him again,” Khaemba lamented. The Shakahola tragedy has cast a dark cloud of fear and uncertainty over these families. “He had told me he was going to meet his maker, Mackenzie. I am just bewildered,” Khaemba confessed.
Meanwhile, political tensions are heightening. Raila Odinga, leader of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, lambasted President William Ruto over his decision to form a judicial commission of inquiry into the Shakahola massacre. In a lawsuit lodged at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Odinga argued the commission’s establishment as unconstitutional.
As the Shakahola cult drama continues to unfold, the heartrending stories of families left in the wake echo the grim reality of such manipulative cults. The thread of motherly love and fear for her child, as seen in Kabarika’s story, serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of such tragedies.