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Pressure mounts against Freemasons in Kenya

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Pressure mounts against Freemasons in Kenya
Panafrican News Agency (PANA) Daily Newswire
By Tervil Okoko
September 24, 2000

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - Riot police fired in the air Saturday to stop riotous members of the un-registered Mungiki religious sect from burning the Freemasons Hall in Nairobi, East African Standard reported Sunday.

The group, led by its national co-ordinator, Ibrahim Ndira Waruingi, marched to the hall armed with four jerricans of petrol and attempted to gain access to the premises of the Freemasons Hall on Nyerere Road. The controversial Mungiki members, who have been engaging police in running battles, claimed the hall housed satanic and demonic materials used by members of the Freemasons society, which they allegedly wanted to exorcise.

"We are targeting a snake which is fed on human blood drawn from children kidnapped by Freemasons," they said. They further claimed the movement was responsible for the disappearance of people from the city estates.

Mysterious murders have rocked Nairobi of late. However, the Nairobi Central police station deputy commander, Patrick Mbarire, warned the group against invading private property, telling the Mungiki sect members that freedom of worship in the country was enshrined in the constitution.

But Waruingi insisted: "We must burn the abode of all the evil that has pervaded our country before we perish." Saturdays attack on the Freemasons Hall comes in the wake of several others by Mungiki sect members and a section of mainstream churches in Kenya. Following decades of its discreet character in a country where freedom of worship is overtly provided for in the constitutional laws, the Freemason society is facing a tough challenge this time with a growing number of people calling for its proscription.

On 9 September, police had to use force to thwart an attempt by Mungiki Sect members-turned Muslims, who were planning to storm the Freemasons Hall in Nairobi. Even though the management of the Freemason Hall in Nairobi has chosen to remain tight-lipped on the matter, and even refusing to respond to inquiries by the press on the mounting pressure, the Freemasons themselves have defended their society against the onslaughts, saying theirs was just a club and no snakes or evil charms were kept in its hall.

Mainstream churches have also joined the fray that is increasingly seeing the Masonic society in Kenya being pushed to the wall. Citing an example fo Freemasonry that is quickly taking root in the society, parish pastor of Nairobi's St. Andrews Presbyterian Churches of East Africa or PCEA, Rev. Johnson Mwara, 10 September said the group should be abolished in the country as it has no moral standing to the wider community.

He called for a change in the country's constitution to outlaw practices undermining human dignity under the pretence of religion. PCEA is one of the oldest traditional English churches in Kenya.

The PCEA's call came back barely a week after a consortium of churches, during an interdenominational conference in Nanyuki, about 130 miles north of Nairobi, called for the total ban on Freemasonry in Kenya. The Nanyuki conference, attended by officials of the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Kenya, the Catholic Church and representatives of the Independent Churches of Kenya, lashed out at the Freemason society, accusing it of "engaging in undercurrent activities." The churches pointed out that Freemasonry is a secretive society whose activities may not be good to the welfare of the human society.

They challenged the Freemasons to be open if what they are up to is legal and moral. There are a few prominent figures, including the current deputy speaker of parliament, Job Omino, and opposition legislator Paul Muite.

Only its headquarters - the Freemasons hall - popularly known as "White House" due to its clean whitewashed walls, would constantly remind Kenyans of its existence in a society where religion is increasingly leading many people by the nose.

Rev. Ananie Nduwamungu of PCEA says nobody outside the Freemasons really understand what the society stands for, or its goals and objectives in the society. According to Mwara, it is important for the public to be informed on the beliefs and practices of the society (Freemason) and be left to judge if they have a role to play in character development.

"Why don't they just come out clean in the open and tell us whom they worship and how they do it? The public needs to be made aware to remove the mystery and secrecy of the organisation," the cleric said.

On 3 September, Rev. Samuel Muli of the Church of Christ led a group of demonstrators in the city as part of the ongoing campaigns to outlaw the Freemansonry in the East African country. Accusing the organisation of clandestine operations, Muli who is also the director of Evangelism Association - a consortium of evangelical revival churches, said Freemasonry is a threat to the human race and thus the need to have it abolished.

In a strange correlation, Mwara and the Mungiki sect members would want to attribute Kenya's current afflictions - ranging from the economic hardships to the electricity and water rationing and drought - to the Masonic practices in the country. "Unless they (Freemasons) were exposed, the problems of the country will continue," Mwara said.

Kenya is currently reeling under a heavy water and electricity rationing due to a ragin drought that has blanketed the country since early May.