‘We tried to stop her’: Kenyan teenager tells how cult starved his mother

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Two years ago, Issa Ali’s mother took all her belongings and left her family to join followers of the charismatic church leader Paul Mackenzie Nthenge in the Shakahola forest in south-east Kenya.

“He told them that’s where Jesus’ second coming will happen,” the 16-year-old said.

When he saw his mother again earlier this year, he said she was “nearly unrecognisable”, and had gone from being well built to shockingly frail.

“She told us it could be the last time we would see her, that her earthly life had lost all meaning and that she would be going to heaven soon. We tried to stop her, but couldn’t – she wasn’t herself at all,” Ali said.

The next time he heard of his mother was when his friends told him last week that she had been found dead in shallow graves in the forest, although her death has not yet been officially confirmed to him.

Ali’s mother’s apparent fate is just one story among scores in the case of a “starvation cult” – led by Nthenge – that has gripped and shocked Kenyans since police began unearthing corpses in the forest about two weeks ago.

Content retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/30/we-tried-to-stop-her-kenyan-teenager-tells-how-cult-starved-his-mother.

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