THOUSANDS of young Kenyans are flocking to join an aggressive religious cult which has vowed to wage a ‘holy war’ against Freemasonry.
The Mungiki youth sect has already declared war on tourists as well as alcohol, tobacco and mini-skirts, which are seen as symbols of the society they detest.
Now its members are vowing to eradicate Freemasonry from their country, just months before the Duke of Kent is expected to visit Kenya as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the secretive organisation in East Africa.
The threat is being taken seriously by authorities in the country, who are still reeling from the bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner, both earlier this month. Only last week the British High Commission was shut after receiving a "specific threat".
The 300,000 members of the Mungiki youth sect see themselves as the true sons of the Mau Mau rebels who rose up against British colonial rule in the 1950s. The sect, which is banned, is committed to the traditional "African way of worship, culture and lifestyle".
Its leaders have accused the Freemasons of "devil worshipping, drinking human blood, child and other forms of human sacrifice and undermining the moral foundations of African society".
Ibrahim Waruingi, leader of the fundamentalist sect, said: "We must burn the abode of all the evil that has invaded our country before we perish. We are now targeting a snake which is fed on human blood drawn from children kidnapped by Freemasons," he added.
The threat comes as nearly 8,000 Freemasons in Kenya, Uganda, Seychelles and Tanzania are preparing to celebrate the centenary of the organisation’s founding in Zanzibar in 1903. The highlight of next year’s celebrations is due to be a visit by the Grand Master of English Freemasonry, the Duke of Kent.
He is expected to hold talks in Nairobi with the new president of Kenya and be hosted in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam by President Ben Mkapa.
Senior officials responsible for the Duke of Kent’s security are known to be taking the threats by the Mungiki seriously.
Defending Freemasonry, Dr Andy Chande, grandmaster of the Lodge of East Africa, said: "Some time ago, [former] President Moi set up a commission of inquiry into the activities of Freemasons in Kenya.
"The commissioners interviewed me and other leading Masons. They found nothing to connect us with Satan worship but did suggest that we made more of an effort to explain our activities to the public.
"Our members do a great deal of work for charity and all of us believe in a Supreme Being. Charges that we worship the devil are ridiculous."
The oaths taken by members of the Mungiki sect bear a strong resemblance to those taken by the Mau Mau in the vast forests of Kikuyuland around Nairobi half a century ago.
The more violent members of Mungiki have already sworn allegiance to Islam, to the embarrassment of leading Kenyan Imams who want no part of a ‘holy war’ against Freemasons.
Throughout East Africa hundreds of thousands of young unemployed hopeless and homeless blacks are turning from Christian churches and looking to Islam for religious, and financial, help. They also like the free T-shirts and Korans provided courtesy of Libya’s President Gaddafi and his busy diplomats in the region.
The members of the Mungiki sect are nearly all members of the Kikuyu tribe and follow the ‘pagan’ Kikuyu religion.
But the Mungiki sect is not alone in its criticism of Freemasonry. Mainstream Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches have joined in the fray. The Parish Pastor of Nairobi’s St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), one of the oldest traditional churches in Kenya, said recently that Freemasonry should be abolished. "It has no standing in the wider community," he said.