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William Jehovah Wanyoni
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Out of Africa: GOD LIVES IN KENYA
‘The world rejected my son whom I sent to save them. Now I have decided to come down myself to earth to see if I can redeem the wretched human race from eventual destruction.’
So claims William (?) Wanyonyi, apparently born in Bungoma District, Kenya, in 1925. He seems to have changed his name to Jehovah Wanyonyi around 1957 when he apparently started his ‘ministry’. Most information about this Kenyan claiming to be God comes from himself through about three reported media interviews. Very little factual research appears to have been done to verify or disprove the numerous claims made by Wanyonyi. As a result there are conflicting statements, and undoubted exaggerations and distortions promoted by Wanyonyi himself.
It has been reported that he has 10 wives and 25 wives; that he has 35 children; 70 children and 95 children; that he has 120 followers; 400 followers; 1,000 followers; 3,000 followers.
Like other (we believe, poorly researched) media articles, instead of reporting that the person interviewed and quoted has claimed certain things, reporters have published the claims as if they are actual facts. No effort is made to determine the truth behind any of the claims.
We can probably accept that Wanyonyi has made the claims he announced to reporters. These include his announcements to visitors that he is: ‘the ancient of days, the creator of heaven and earth and all therein, the Lord of Abraham, Moses and Jacob…’ and his declarations:
‘Jesus Christ of Nazareth is my own son.’
‘I am the one who created Adam and Eve. I made their bodies and their blood.’
‘I humbled myself into a human form so that humankind could interact freely with me, their creator, and so that I could save them from sin.’
‘That is how much I love humanity. I have taken all your sins and dirt upon myself, yet people refuse to acknowledge me as their God.’
‘But let them remember that I said in the Bible that I would come as a thief among them and they would never know the day or the hour of my coming.’
‘White people are the offspring of Esau whom I cursed in the book of Genesis. I will destroy their dominion along with other heathens in the fullness of time.’
‘I still use human beings by speaking through them, like I spoke through Jesus Christ until he went to Heaven.’
‘I know everything in it [Bible]. Nothing in it is new or foreign to me.’
Wanyonyi’s claim to be God has been used to convince some local people and entice them into handing over their possessions as his followers. He has built up quite a mystique around himself, with all sorts of unprovable claims and stories. As part of this mystique he uses red – in clothing, household items and the like. His red headcovering bears the announcement: ‘I am Almighty God Jehovah Wanyonyi.’
He has claimed past colonial and government persecution, imprisonment, exile, numerous attempts to kill him, and more, but all such efforts failed – because he is God: ‘I was a feared man in prison. None of the soldiers ever dared to lay their hands on me like the other prisoners. Even lions and cobras would not come near me; instead they would run away.’
Wanyonyi has, over the years, predicted the end of the world – including 1995; 2000, and 2002. We are not aware of later dated predictions – but assume they have been made after nothing happened in 2002. Some are worried about this aspect of Wanyonyi’s claims and activities – even though many earlier followers left him after his failed predictions.
Christian leaders in the area have accused him of being a conman, a false prophet, a charlatan, and more, but no one has been able to show that he has done anything illegal – so authorities have been unable to stop him in his claims and activities.
He is in his eighties – and has claimed that, as God, he cannot die. Time will tell.
(First published in TAKE A CLOSER LOOK, Vol. 29 No. 5; Oct-Nov 2008)