Jehovah Wanyonyi

Jehovah Wanyonyi.

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The mystery of Jehovah Wanyonyi death, as cult awaits his ‘second coming’

If death could speak, followers of Jehovah Wanyonyi, the self-proclaimed ‘god’ said to have died in 2015, would have known for sure where their leader is.

Wanyonyi, whose real name is Michael Mumboyi, died on July 18, 2015, according to the local administration and the villagers, but that is as far as it goes in the attempt to find out where he was buried.

Six years down the line, his followers, who dutifully pray to him, are adamant that he is not dead, and they are waiting for his second coming, when, they say, he will judge those who had denied him and who are now seeking to know his whereabouts, including journalists.

“God cannot die,” Eliab Masinde, the chief priest and Wanyonyi’s second-in-command, said matter-of-factly.

Jehovah Wanyonyi followers

Faithful of ‘The Lost Israelites’ during prayers at a shrine at Jehova Wanyonyi’s home in Chemororoch village, Uasin Gishu County presided over by Eliab Makokha Masinde, Chief Priest, on September 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

“Whoever lied to you Jehovah is dead is inviting curses in his life. What I know Jehovah is alive. While he was here you rejected him, and now you want to know whether he is alive or not. Shame on you.”

The mystery of Jehovah Wanyonyi death, as cult awaits hi 'second coming'

‘Death rumour’

The 70-year-old Masinde, who has been serving in the cult’s shrine since he was nine years old, said neighbours of Wanyonyi, who saw him being taken to hospital, are the ones who started the rumour that he was dead.

The story of Jehovah Wanyonyi, the man who took Kenya and neighbouring Uganda by storm, started in Bungoma in 1925, when he was born.

In 1956, he started the Baisraeli sect, then four years later that he claimed to be God and asked his followers to worship him.

The church is today called The Lost Israelites of Kenya.

Said to have married up to 70 wives and had 95 children, Wanyonyi’s rise to fame started in the 1980s when thousands of his followers sold their property, land and livestock to support him, believing he would solve all their problems.

He claimed to be the God, and Jesus Christ, his son. Mount Elgon was the famed Mount Zion, he said.

Kicked out

But when people realised he was a hoax, they kicked him out, and he fled to Kimalewa village in Mount Elgon.

There, he predicted that the world would end in 1995, then 2000, then 2002. When the people of Mt Elgon realised he was being a bit sketchy, they again evicted him and he moved to Chemororoch village, near Nangili on the Eldoret-Kitale highway.

At Chemororoch, Wanyonyi continued building his spiritual kingdom, and it is there that he fell ill sometime in 2015.

Though his family insists that he is still alive, local administrators said Wanyonyi died on July 18, 2015, aged 90. Wanyonyi, villagers said, died as he was being taken to the hospital in Kitale.

Jehovah Wanyonyi followers

Faithful of ‘The Lost Israelites’ during prayers at a shrine at Jehova Wanyonyi’s home in Chemororoch village, Uasin Gishu County presided over by Eliab Makokha Masinde, Chief Priest, on September 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Burial permit

“The family came to me for a burial permit after they claimed that Jehovah Wanyonyi succumbed to illness on his way to Cherang’any Nursing Home in Kitale town,” Kipsomba Chief Daniel Busienei told the Daily Nation in 2015.

At the time, Busienei said the family went to him after the hospital demanded a burial permit before releasing the body.

“I told my assistant chief to issue them with a permit to allow the deceased’s family to lay him to rest,” said Busienei at the time.

Jehovah Wanyonyi followers

Jehova Wanyonyi’s shrine at his home in Chemororoch village, Uasin Gishu County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Efforts by journalists to know the truth about Wanyonyi’s death have been met with resistance from the family for the last six years. Some of his wives and children always push back hard, almost violently, when one seeks the truth on Wanyonyi.

On some occasions, they have ejected journalists from their home, claiming that they have no business in the compound.

At first, in 2015, there was speculation that Wanyonyi had been admitted to Cherang’any before being transferred to the Moi Teaching and Referral hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, but his name was not found on the list of patients at the hospital.

“Jehovah was ill for a long time from a spinal injury and was even on a wheelchair before he disappeared. He was old and what we know is that the family is planning to install a successor in secrecy,” explained a cobbler in the area this week. He did not wish to be named for this story.

Family in Uganda

The cobbler added that Jehovah had another family and even followers in Uganda and it is likely his kinsmen took his body there for burial.

Reports of his death spread across the country, but the family spokesperson, Masinde, and currently the chief priest of the cult, refused to confirm Wanyonyi’s death despite confirmation by the local chief.

When the Daily Nation visited the family during a service at the Chemororoch village home last week, Masinde insisted that Wanyonyi was still alive and would one day appear to take his people to paradise.

“These people refused to obey Jehovah when he was here and now they are speculating about his death. Who told them that ‘god’ dies? They should stop talking about Jehovah whom they refused when he was here or else they will be visited with the curse and the wrath of Jehovah,” said Masinde.

Abject poverty

But besides the mystery surrounding the death of Wanyonyi, his followers are facing yet another problem — abject poverty.

The dire situation starts right from the road to Wanyonyi’s home, which is nothing close to what is described as god’s abode in many religious doctrines.

Jehovah Wanyonyi followers

Jehova Wanyonyi’s home in Chemororoch village, Uasin Gishu County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

As you leave the Eldoret-Kitale road heading to Wanyonyi’s home after Nangili market on the boundary of Kakamega and Uasin Gishu counties, you half expect the road to be something close to the heavenly road described in Revelation 21:21 as a street made of pure gold. It is anything but that — you will be welcomed with an earth road that for many years was completely impassable.

It has only been recently improved.


One of his daughters, Rebecca Wanyonyi, accused local leaders of side-lining the family in national and devolved funds.

The family is often ridiculed for being ‘children of god’ and should, therefore, not expect anything from the government, she said.

“I am wondering why these people are bothering us about the absence of our father, yet when he was here they mistreated us, mocking us that we are the children of god and should request god to fund us. Why is that they are pretending to be concerned about his absence?” asked a furious Ms Wanyonyi.

The situation has also affected the cult’s sacrifice rituals, with the group now resorting to using maize flour and beer — the Tusker brand to be exact — to perform rituals at the shrine, instead of the recommended sacrificial sheep.

During the ceremony, Masinde poured oil around the flour before setting it ablaze at the shrine, whose altar is protected with cemented wire mesh.

Challenging times

“Due to challenging times, we sometimes use wheat flour, margarine and alcohol as our altar sacrifice. As long as it burns and produces a sweet smelling aroma, to our god, it is acceptable,” explained Masinde.

Jehovah Wanyonyi followers

Eliab Makokha Masinde, Chief Priest of ‘The Lost Israelites’.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Everyone visiting the shrine is required to give an offering, which is used to buy requirements for the sacrifice, which is supposed to be given each month, but hard economic times have forced the cult to offer one every three months.

There are plans to hold a major sacrifice this, and every December, when all family members of Wanyonyi gather at the shrine during Christmas.

They prefer offering a sheep as a burnt offering, which costs more than Sh10,000.

“We are supposed to offer to our god a burnt offering sacrifice of a sheep, but sometimes the situation forces us to offer a dove, which is still acceptable,” said Masinde.

“Even you journalists should not be coming here empty handed. Every time you visit us, come with something that we can offer to God as a burnt offering at the shrine. Next time when you come bring us a sheep so that we can show you how we offer an animal sacrifice at our altar,” he told the Daily Nation.

Masinde insists that the animal to be offered at the shrine must be a male and without any defect.

“Our god has no defect and when we give him an offering, it must be a fine male animal without any defect,” he added.

Chief priest

As the chief priest, Masinde is the only one allowed in the shrine.

The shrine is in Wanyonyi’s compound — Masinde lives just across the fence — and is a 4-by-4 metre enclosure with 12 flags around it, and one big red one at the entrance.

The flags are yellow, red, pink, blue, black and white.

In the middle of it is the altar, a one-metre concrete square structure from where Masinde offers the sacrifice.

While they read the Bible that Christians do, they have separate dates for ceremonies in the Bible.

For instance, while Christians around the world celebrate Easter in April, Wanyonyi’s followers are planning theirs in October.

On Saturday, October 9, Masinde will perform a memorial ritual of burnt sacrifice offering where the followers will slaughter a sheep on the altar.

“It will be a major sacrifice to appease our god. We are inviting you to come and witness the occasion,” said Masinde.

Wanyonyi’s return

Since his disappearance, several followers, who refer to him as the “living god” have been making regular visits to pitch camp at his home, to pray in preparation for Wanyonyi’s return and when he will take them to the ‘heavenly place’.

“Jehovah told us he is not dead. He told us to remain faithful. Jehovah went, and he will be back. He will take over the reins of the world, then hand them to Jesus. The world beware, Jehovah is coming,” Masinde concluded.

And so, six years after his reported death, his followers, plagued by lack of funds and living in squalor, are hopeful that their god is coming.

They wait.