Unearthing the Unthinkable: The Shakahola Tragedy and the Starvation Cult!

Taxi-Driver Turned Pastor!

Deep within the heart of the Shakahola forest, not far from Kenya’s coastline, a shocking discovery left the nation in disbelief. Dozens of people had willingly starved themselves to death. The news sent shockwaves throughout the country, prompting a thorough investigation by the police in the vast 325-hectare (800-acre) area of the forest.

Paul Mackenzie had purchased a field in the heart of the Shakahola forest, where he had relocated in 2022. Under the guise of nurturing Christian spirituality and preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Good News International Church attracted over 3,000 devotees across branches in Nairobi, along the Kenyan coast and across the country

At the centre of the investigation was Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, a former taxi driver turned pastor and leader of the Good News International Church. This notorious figure had allegedly preached a twisted doctrine, claiming that salvation could be achieved through starvation. Years before the shocking incident, Paul Mackenzie  had already been under scrutiny for his radical beliefs/teachings.As the investigation unfolded, the full extent of the tragedy became apparent.

Coast Regional Commissioner Rhoda Onyancha revealed that the number of missing individuals in the Shakahola incident stood at a staggering 609. Authorities exhumed a total of 179 bodies from the site (as per the time this post was written) shedding light on the horrific fate that had befallen Paul Mackenzie ‘s presumed followers.

When the police arrived at the property, they encountered emaciated individuals who were barely able to walk or speak. Tragically, eight severely malnourished individuals found alive by the police later succumbed to their condition. Kenya’s Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, revealed this heart-breaking detail, further amplifying the magnitude of the cult’s sinister practices.

Paul Mackenzie, now in police custody and this is not the first time he has faced legal action, having been previously arrested in 2019 and earlier this year in connection to the deaths of children. Local politicians have urged the court not to grant him bail, voicing their concern over the spread of cults in the Malindi area.

As the investigation continued, the Shakahola Forest in Kilifi County slowly revealed its secrets. Several bodies were discovered, providing further evidence of the sheer scale of the suspected starvation cult and the lives it claimed.

The Shakahola tragedy remains etched in the collective memory of Kenya, serving as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences that can arise from the manipulation of vulnerable individuals. As the victims are mourned and justice sought, it is crucial to shine a light on such atrocities, ensuring that communities remain vigilant against the spread of harmful ideologies and cult-like practices.

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