Caption for the landscape image:

Fears of a cult-like offshoot group in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Scroll down to read the article

Anyango, a teacher by profession, was indoctrinated into a cult-like offshoot of the Adventist church.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

For years, distance never seemed to be an issue for Tom Midamba and Mirriam Anyango.

Mr Midamba is an engineer based in Mombasa. Ms Anyango taught at Kanga School in Migori County for more than six years before deserting her post, taking several students to unimaginable heights at the reputable national school. 

Mr Midamba and Ms Anyango were not legally married and Mr Midamba had another family in Mombasa besides the one in Rongo, Migori.

The couple were raising two children using Seventh-Day Adventist teachings, and all seemed well. An ordinary Kenyan couple enjoying a long-distance relationship.

But things took a sudden turn when Ms Anyango happened to meet a self-styled Adventist missionary, Pauline Obbo.

Mr Midamba and Ms Anyango are in the midst of a marital crisis that is partly driven by their religious beliefs.

The Nation has been informed that Ms Obbo has indoctrinated Ms Anyango into a cult-like offshoot of the Adventist Church, which has seen the teacher travelling around the country with her children in search of the true god.

But all would have been quiet, had not the couple's daughter called the father.

"My daughter called to tell me that she was in Narok. She told me she would be there for three or four weeks," Mr Midamba said in an interview.

According to Mr Midamba, this was a strange occurrence. The daughter had gone to Narok for "training" with Ms Pauline Obbo without her mother.

After weeks in Narok, the couple's daughter returned to Rongo, only to report on another day that she was in Kisumu and on her way to Bungoma for another vocational Bible study.

"She told me daddy, I am going to Bungoma but I am very hungry, please send money to this number, I will buy some food. That is the only way I knew about it. My wife did not tell me anything".

Mr Midamba's son turned two years old on December 4, 2023, and the family in Rongo did not hold a birthday party, despite having been given facilitation to do so. Mr Midamba says that his wife did not explain why there was no party, but completely cut off his calls.

He suspects that from then on his wife blocked them and the only means of communication available was through WhatsApp, where she stopped responding to his messages about anything, but mostly about the whereabouts of the children.

"When it reached a point where I was not called or consulted about the girl's school attendance, I had to travel," he said in an interview, "It was now three weeks and my daughter had not reported to school, I had to travel to Rongo," he added.

It later emerged that Mr Midamba's wife, a woman called Frastromola Bosire, and missionary Pauline Obbo had travelled to Bungoma for an unknown purpose and rented a house in the town for several weeks.

"They stayed here for weeks until the morning they left. The house was booked by Mola, but there were about three women and three children staying there," Ms Muyundo, the landlady, told the Nation in an interview.

Ms Anyango and Ms Obbo later left Bungoma for Rongo, leaving the children in the care of Ms Bosire.

Speaking to the Nation, Ms Anyango said, "I was on holiday in Bungoma with my daughter. This is how we spend our time and there is nothing wrong with that.

Dropping out of school

Ms Anyango did not mention the presence of other people in the house in Bungoma; in fact, during a police interrogation, she had denied ever being in Bungoma and claimed to have been in hotels in Kisumu having fun; only that it was school time and that Mrs Anyango was a teacher.

It emerged that Ms Anyango, the head of the Swahili department at Kanga School, had left work to allegedly pursue god.

When contacted, Ms Anyango told this publication that "I have not absconded from duty, I have just taken a break and as soon as I am done with what is happening in my life, I will be back". She said without elaborating on "what is happening in my life".

Kanga School management confirmed to the Nation that the teacher had been absent for over a month and had not given any reasonable explanation as to why she was not on duty from mid-January until this story was published.

"She (Ms Anyango) kept telling a neighbour that her children could not attend this Babylonian type of education, that it was not the real education. The neighbour kept wondering and asking her why she would say that when both of them are teachers," Mr Midamba wondered.

After Mr Midamba reported the children missing, a police investigation was launched between Rongo police and Bungoma detectives, leading to the discovery of the house in Bungoma.

"I went to the dustbin and found a booklet, a colouring booklet that I had bought and taken to Rongo - that was a very good sign that they had been there earlier that day".

A triangulation of the phones showed that the host had run away and was somewhere in Eldoret. When summoned by the police, she consulted two people and never turned up. One of them was Ms Obbo.

Ms Frastromola Bosire, who signed the lease, told the Nation, "I signed the lease, we lived there, but is renting a house now a crime?" When asked what led to the decision to rent a house in Bungoma, she said, "I cannot explain now, when the time is right, I will let you know".

The 29-year-old could also not explain why she was being chased by police officers in Rongo and Bungoma and why she, along with Ms Obbo and Ms Anyango, were constantly evading arrest by changing phone numbers from time to time.

Police investigations revealed that the three women had been travelling back and forth between Eldoret, Rongo, Bungoma, Narok and Meru.

The arrest

To arrest Ms Anyango, detectives exploited her strained relationship with her husband. The landlady of her house in Rongo was asked to inform the teacher that Mr Midamba would be vacating the house in two days and if she had anything to collect, that was the time.

True to their plan, Ms Anyango and her father arrived at the house in a canter lorry. The police pounced on the woman and immediately arrested her.

At the time of her arrest, Mrs Anyango was with her two-year-old son and had no information about her daughter's whereabouts.

The Narok connection

But that same Friday night, something happened: "It was 2am. A teacher friend in Homa Bay was travelling from Nairobi to Rongo. She called me in Narok and told me that she had seen my daughter on the side of the road. She gave chase and caught the girl. Her bus even abandoned her and I had to pay for both of them to be taken to Rongo Police Station. Mr Midamba said.

The teenager was taken into custody and interrogated.

It was then revealed that the girl and a group of about ten other teenagers were undergoing some kind of teaching at a centre in Narok.

At the time of going to press, the police were still trying to locate the centre.

"They don't eat in the evening, they don't watch TV or radio. They think the current education system is Babylonian and they want real education," said Mr Midamba.

He went on to say that he has learnt that the newfound faith does not believe in conventional medicine.
"There are families that have broken up because of this," Mr Midamba added.

The management of Rongo Success Academy, where the couple's daughter is studying, told the Nation that this was not the first case they had dealt with.

"We are happy that she finished her studies, the other cases, about five that we have had, were of students who were bright; they were invited to seminars or keshas and the next thing we notice is that the child doesn't come to class anymore, they don't perform as well," said a teacher at the school.

Nation reporters had spoken to Pastor Charles Nyakure about the matter.

Mr Nyakure is the Seventh-day Adventist president of the Ranen Conference in Rongo. He clarified: "The group you are talking about, I know and have heard about. Their teachings are not Adventist teachings".

Mr Nyakure was responding to questions about the sect's withdrawal of children from school,
"The Adventist Church is built on the foundation of education and health. We have full-fledged health centres, we have schools in our name, and Baraton University is ours. So let no one confuse our members that they are speaking in our name and against these values," said Pastor Nyakure.

Moses Nyankuru, a Nairobi-based businessman and leader in the SDA hierarchy, is the father of one of the women involved in the Rongo saga.

Frastromola Bosire, 27, is a medical technician. She obtained her diploma from a college in Meru.

Mr Nyankuru says that Ms Mola was apparently radicalised shortly after completing her studies. However, the medical engineer did not attend her graduation ceremony or collect her certificates.

"It was only recently that I was able to reach her on the phone, and every time I speak to her, she says she is on missionary work. Sometimes in Eldoret, Meru, Bungoma. I don't even understand it anymore," said a frustrated Mr Nyankuru in a telephone interview.

We have authoritatively confirmed that what happened at Rongo Church with the three women and three children is true.
But Pastor Charles Nyakure and other members of the SDA congregation have confirmed that the controversial and dramatic teachings are not part of Adventist practice.

After being off the radar for several weeks, the three women - Ms Frastromola, Ms Obbo and Ms Anyango - contacted the Nation after seeing the online promotions of our NTV broadcast and requested that we postpone the story to allow them to respond.

However, apart from denying that they were in an Adventist offshoot, the trio did not respond to other specific questions about the events in Rongo, Bungoma, Kilifi, Narok and Eldoret.

The story in Rongo reads like the teachings of guest missionaries at the Jomo Kenyatta University Seventh-Day Adventist Union (JKUSDA) between 2014 and 2017.

The teachings had caused several students to drop out of the Thika Road-based university.

"It was a big disaster, some of them came back and graduated but most of them just disappeared," Dr Duncan Onyango told the Nation.

Dr Onyango is a lecturer in the School of Medical Systems Engineering at the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and a former member of JKUSDA.

Dr Onyango told the Nation: "These things have been happening within the Adventist Church, it is just that they have been handled internally, this one is just causing an uproar because now everyone will be talking about it.

As of Sunday 7 April, the Kanga High School teacher had not reported back to school. The couple's daughter is being taken to a government facility in Kisii by the children's section of Rongo police station for psychological counselling and school preparation.

"Why have they detained her, they should at least allow us to see her, they are torturing her instead of the supposed counselling," Ms Anyango told the Nation.

Mr Midamba says he plans to file a case in the Mombasa High Court to gain custody of the children.

Ms Anyango is fighting to contest the paternity of the children, saying Mr Midamba is not the father of the children he is fighting to protect.

Ms Frastromola Bosire and Ms Pauline Obbo are yet to be found or to report to the police in Bungoma or Rongo where investigations have been launched.