Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, a former taxi driver turned religious leader, has been accused of convincing hundreds of followers to starve themselves to death in order to meet Jesus.
For the past several months, Kenya has been rocked by macabre revelations about the dealings of Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, a cult leader suspected of orchestrating the deaths of over 240 of his loyal followers through starvation. A former televangelist in charge of the Good News International Church, which officially closed down in 2019, Mackenzie Nthenge is believed to have continued his religious activities after moving to the remote village of Shakahola, spewing his extremist beliefs and exploiting people’s fear of the unknown. Evidence suggests that he was somehow able to convince his followers that starving themselves and their loved ones, including children, was a faster way of reaching heaven and meeting their savior, Jesus Christ.
Nthenge moved to Malindi, about 70 km from Shakahola after officially closing his church, but spent most of his time in the drought-stricken village, exposing the locals to his twisted religious theories. However, authorities only started investigating his activity in the area after receiving an anonymous tip-off about two children who had apparently been starved to death by their own parents, under the guidance of the self-proclaimed holy man.
The two children were found buried in shallow graves on Paul Mackenzie Nthenge’s vast land in Shakahola forest, but this was just the tip of the iceberg, as police had information that there were several mass graves in the area full of the pastor’s naive followers. Back in March, the controversial religious leader was arrested along with the two children’s parents, but over the following two months, investigators dug up a total of 241 emaciated bodies on Nthenge’s land.
“We have not even scratched the surface which gives a clear indication that we are likely to get more bodies by the end of this exercise,” a source within the investigation told Agence France Presse last month. They were proven right, as by that time only around 100 bodies had been discovered.
Back in March, when the investigation began, an unperturbed Mackenzie Nthenge told authorities that he believed he had prophetic power and that he had seen apparitions of Jesus. It was with such ludicrous claims that he convinced gullible followers to starve themselves and their loved ones to death, as a way of reaching heaven faster and meeting Jesus.
Nthenge denied preaching his beliefs after the closing of his Good News International Church back in 2019, insisting that he did not force anyone to follow his beliefs. However, former members of his cult told investigators that he continued preaching his extreme beliefs even after the official closing of his church, instructing people to quit their jobs to attend his sermons full-time and not seek medical help when sick.
Earlier this month, Kenyan authorities made another gruesome discovery while digging up bodies from Shakahola mass graves. While most bodies were just emaciated, suggesting death by starvation, others had obviously suffered mass trauma to the head or neck. It was later revealed that some of the victims had missing organs, which suggests that Mackenzie Nthenge and his cronies were trafficking human organs.
Kenya’s Interior minister Prof. Kithure Kindiki recently told reporters that he had information that the evil pastor had used armed gangs to kill parishioners who took too long to die from starvation or who attempted to break their fast, using blunt weapons and strangulation wires.
The ‘Shakahola forest massacre’, as Paul Mackenzie Nthenge’s genocide has come to be known, is one of the most shocking and tragic events in Kenya’s history and one that has shaken the country to its core.
We’ve covered all sorts of religious hacks in the past, from pastors who claimed to have God’s phone number, to some who charged followers money to see God in heaven, but none as evil as this “holy man”.