Monday, December 15, 2014

How Did Simeo Ondeto Die: A Story of Betrayal

Betrayal is agonizing. It is sad when your trusted men and women turn against you and plot your demise. Yet, it is through betrayal that Simeo Ondeto reached his earthly life’s sunset. And it was on a dark and sad evening at St. Peter’s Manyatta Church in Kisumu where his betrayers hatched and implemented their nasty and cruel act.

The killers of Simeo Ondeto were not strangers to him. They were his disciples. They were his bishops and cardinals. They were his maidservants who prepared his food daily. They were his prophets. They were people who lived comfortably under the care and umbrella of Simeo Ondeto. They received so many gifts and so much money from those who visited Simeo Ondeto regularly. And so they thought that ascending to the church’s leadership would allow them to get more gifts and more money.

Several Attempts on His Life

The teacher of righteousness was always a hindrance to the desires of the lovers of money and women. He rebuked prophets, priests, bishops and cardinals often. They could not do wrong and have their way as long as he was with them in the flesh. Therefore, they made attempts to kill him.

For instance, at Nyapiedho, his servants were given money to poison his food. So his food was poisoned at Nyapiedho, he ate it and did not die. When the Nyapiedho poisoning failed to kill him, a second attempt was hatched at Jerusalem Amoyo. This time, he was injected with poisonous drugs while he was asleep. This attempt was made by Cardinal Muga and Aloice Olal. Romanus On’gombe’s name was also dragged into this poisoning plan, but Baba Simeo knew the planners and stated that On’gombe was never involved. Simeo’s whole body was swollen and it was through the help of Alexus Ogola, son of Agano, that he received immediate medical attention and survived.  Many other attempts were made, but he did not die.

Simeo Speaks About His Imminent Betrayal and Death: Nyalenda Kisumu 14/10/1989

Simeo taught in Nyalenda and said: “Even if I die in Jerusalem, or if I die in Manyatta, my body should be taken quickly to Calvary and buried. The hosts of heaven have finally signed and agreed that I depart and return to heaven. Only Mama Maria has not signed. She has insisted that I be given a short while. Next year (1990) will not be a bad year, but the year after (1991) will most likely not pass for me. This is why I have told all of you this. As you all know; when a father is close to his death, he must call his sons and divide his wealth accordingly. I have to do the same because I have come to that point when my time is up.”

“My spirit is already weakened and my body is aching. Yes, I will stride on for a short while and overcome the many attempts that are made on my life. But I must state that I am living on borrowed time now. Rafael Onyango, help my children when I am gone. Give them soap when they are in need and I will bless you. Alfred Okiya, I leave these orphans in your hands. But most importantly, Arch Bishop, please take good care of my orphans. Do not let them suffer after I depart. Even if they are living with Ahenda, make sure to visit them and provide for them. My servants, orphans and widows, you must now prepare for tough times ahead. I know many of you are happy when I am around because I provide for them. Now, all that is going to change and you will suffer horribly.”

 “My great home of Jerusalem will be deserted and my children will scatter and wander in far places. Some of my children will seek for work in the bars. Some will become sex workers. But woe to that church where I shall die! It will be visited by terrible problems, and its congregation shall endlessly fight amongst themselves. It will not have peace and its leaders shall engage in endless politics and rivalries. I am speaking and some of you are making noise. But Truly I say to you that you will suffer. Some of you will turn into thieves. And my orphans and widows will not get anyone to listen to them. All these things will come to pass because your church leaders have decided to ignore my teachings and to follow their own ways.”

From 1989 to 1991

Simeo Melkio knew his time was up. So he frequently spoke to his followers about his imminent betrayal and death, reminding them to remain steadfast in the faith even after he is gone.

Often, he told them:
 “I am tired. I want to return to heaven.”
“I feel it is time to depart. I have offered you all that I brought.”
“My time is up. All the hosts of heaven have assented to it except Mary.”

In August 1991 at St. John Kodero church in Kisumu he told those close to him:
“I will leave for Jerusalem abruptly. So many will not notice my departure and will be left behind.”

Speaking to Peter Sewe and Benedict Keya at St. John Kodero that August 1991 he said:
“My departure to Jerusalem will be abrupt. It will be hardly noticed.”

During the entire feast at St John Church, Kodero, the weight and anxiety of his imminent death had got into him. He looked tired. And even when going out to teach, he would board his car to cover the short distance.

The Last Days

After the feast at St. John Church, Kodero had ended, Simeo Melkio made his last tour of the churches in Kisumu and Siaya. He left Kodero for Barding in Alego. On his way, he visited the home of one his followers at Ka-Achok, then spent some time at Tiengre Legion Maria church.

When he arrived in Barding, he prayed saying:
“Oh you dreadful wolf. You have left your dark abyss to strike. You have killed the shepherd and scattered the sheep!”

His prayers were atypically mournful. He even pleaded with Virgin Mary for strength. His body was weak and he would use his car to move around, particularly when going out to teach.

On Sunday, September 1, 1991, he delivered only one sermon. This was contrary to his norm of delivering two sermons every Sunday. But he also did not bless the faithful, delegating that task to Lawrence Chiaji.

On Monday, September 2, 1991, he travelled back to Kisumu, arriving at St. Peter Manyatta at night. Upon arriving, he moved into the house of Siprosa (one of his maidservants) and prayed. After the prayer, he went to the house of another maidservant, Justina Agano.

The Dark Night: September 2, 1991

It was in the house of Justina Agano where the dark art took place. It was in there where Baba Simeo was poisoned with a strong blend of Sulfuric acid and rat poison. The scene was terrible and dark. The hour had come and the Lord could now not ask for the cup of poison to be taken away. He had to drink it and give up his ghost to his father in heaven.

That night, almost every person who was in Manyatta church knew the plan. Even Dalmas Oyier knew the plan. It was all in the atmosphere. The air was loaded with his death chants. They knew they were betraying their Lord, but they felt no shame. They had waited for their time to do it and they were now sure the plan could not fail because each one of them had nodded to it. The devil was now having his way in the hearts of the closest companions of the son of God. And in heaven, the saints and angels looked down at the African shamelessness.

When Simeo went to the house of Justina Agano, the scene was already set. Elizabeth Ndire had already prepared the food and made sure that the dose of poison in the food was enough to kill as quickly as possible. Dalmas Oyier was the Judas of the night; he made sure that Baba Simeo ate the food. Every second that passed as Baba Simeo hesitated to eat the food, Oyier pressed him to eat.

And Baba Simeo asked Oyier three times saying: “Oyier, should I eat it?” and Oyier consented to his impending death saying: “Lord, eat the food!” And he asked again: “Oyier, is this food okay? “Yes, it is good,” Oyier replied. And a third time he asked: “Oyier, are you sure this food is okay?” And the third time Oyier confirmed saying: “Lord, I know it is okay.” It took Baba Simeo time to finally decide that enough was enough. And he decided to die as was the wish of those around him. He decided to eat the poisoned food.

As Baba Simeo ate the food, Dalmas Oyier communicated the message to Elizabeth Ndire, Chiaji Lawrence and other master planners of the dark act. They rejoiced at their likely success. They felt no shame. They were demon possessed. They all were now calling Simeo just a man who should die and give way for others to lead Legion Maria church. In fact, the female servants of Baba Simeo rejoiced the more. They thought the death of Baba Simeo was going to be the best thing ever to happen to their lives. So, each of them present, picked food particles and threw at Baba Simeo saying: “If he is God he should eat the food and survive. If he does not survive, he is just a man. Let us see if he survives the poison.”

 “Baba, eat your food!” the female servants scorned Him. This annoyed Leonardus Tibi Jaramula. And Tibi rebuked the women saying: “Have you forgotten that Baba Simeo is God? Why are you addressing him like that?” But Baba Simeo stopped Tibi’s reaction saying: “Tibi, do not bother yourself to defend me. My time of departure has come. The devil is celebrating and his agents are jubilant. Bother not about what you are witnessing.”

The After-Effects of the Poisoning

When Simeo Melkio had eaten the food, his stomach ached badly. He took quick leave to sleep. But the female servants did not care. Their plan was now bound to succeed. Their wait had been long, but finally they were about to remove Simeo Ondeto out of their way. He had been a hindrance to their ambitions and now things looked good for them.

On September 3, 1991, he woke up severely ill and complaining of his stomach.  The faithful were asked to pray. This had been a routine whenever Baba Simeo was ill because prayer made him well. Masses and rosaries were done that day with hope that Simeo would once again overcome this attempt on his life.

On 4th September, there was tentative hope. Simeo came out of his bed, sat in the sitting room and conversed with people. He looked well, almost as if he had overcome the poison. But when he was called to eat, he made a scary gesture, knowing this was the last time he was speaking to the people.

He said: “Goodbye, I am going to eat!”
With these words, he left the people wondering why he was saying this to them. But true to his word, this was the last time he sat down and spoke.

On September 5, 1991, Simeo was critical.  Blood oozed from his nose and he struggled to breathe. And by evening, he was dead. He finally died a painful death, betrayed by his companions. They killed to have the money and the women. They betrayed the Lord because he stood between them and power.

The Pity of Oria Nyagoya

As Baba Simeo suffered and vomited, Oria Nyagoya Jasomali felt great pity for his Lord. He rushed around to find a solution but to not avail. Helpless and in tears, he knelt next to the dying Lord and helplessly cleared the blood. Oria Nyagoya remembered how Simeo Ondeto had saved his life. Born in Alego, Oria had moved to Kisumu to find work. And while in Kisumu and faced with joblessness, he had turned into a thug who robbed people of their wealth without shame. But when he met Baba Simeo, he was saved and he became a child of God. Then, after his conversion, he worked tirelessly to establish St. Peter Manyatta church. So as his savior and God vomited blood and finally gave up his spirit, Oria boiled with pain and anguish.

The Journey to Jerusalem

When Simeo died, many followers in St. Peter’s Manyatta did not believe. In fact, even his betrayers thought he was just going to wake up. After all, he had previously been poisoned, died and woke up. So debate ensued, with some saying he would wake up while others saying this time it would not happen. Those who were hopeful he would rise again opted to pray relentlessly.

But as the night wore on, it was decided that he should be taken quickly to Jerusalem Amoyo. So at around 9:00 p.m. Simeo was vested in his white robe and placed in his KAA 023W Trooper.  In the vehicle for the journey to Jerusalem were Paul Kitili (driver), Lawrence Chiaji (Cardinal Dean), Siprosa, Elizabeth Ndire, Peter Sewe, Oyier, Opile, Keya and Mbalu. Chiaji sat in front (carrying a little girl called Rael) with the driver while Siprosa and Elizabeth were to the left and right of Baba’s body in the middle. The rest sat on the back seat. Opile was the usual driver of the Trooper but did not drive that night because of poor night vision. A second car, Peugeot 205 accompanied the Trooper. It was driven by Maurice Koteke and carried Lucia (Manuel’s sister), Odira, Priska and Maurice Akello.

The Trooper was fuelled at Kwega Filling Station in Kisumu and then it took off to Nyamasaria with those on board singing somberly. Baba Simeo was seated upright, but his head drooped slightly. The car was driven to Rabuor so Siprosa could inform her family of what had happened, then Homabay route was taken. The body arrived in Migori past midnight where the car stopped at the church to notify the bishop of what had happened before stopping next at a filling station near Girango to refuel. Blood was still oozing from Simeo’s nose. Since Pope Timothy Atila was at Calvary, the entourage stopped at Masara to notify Fr.  Ochieng Sireto so he could pass the information to the Pope. Then they took Kadem rough road to Jerusalem.

The arrival of Simeo was usually a big event signaled by heavy hooting and loud joyous noises. But on this occasion the driver did not hoot and opted to arrive quietly. Still, people came rushing to welcome their lord with shouts of “Baba has come.” The car stopped by Baba’s house and Cardinal Alexius Ogola was quickly briefed by Chiaji Lawrence of what had happened. Simeo’s body was then placed in his guest house for easy viewing.

So as the crowd swell around Baba’s house in confusion, Alexius stood up and spoke to them saying:
“This is how Baba Simeo looked when he came to Jerusalem from Nazareth. It is our faithful prayers that raised him. So, I plead with all of you to pray for him. He will be well.” 

Shock and Confusion

The death of Baba Simeo was a big shock to Legion Maria faithful. Many who were not aware of the political undercurrents in the church were completely taken by surprise by the sudden poisoning and death of their Lord. Churches across Kenya and beyond received the message with heavy and wilted hearts. 

When it was finally settled that the body had to be buried,  a coffin was purchased, but the body had swollen to the extent that it could not fit in. Therefore, ropes were bought, rolled around the coffin and pulled in order to force the body to fit in. Arch-Bishop Simbiti brought a physician to preserve the body, but on arriving at the gate, the physician was met by Simeo Ondeto in spirit. Meeting Baba Simeo Ondeto by the gate, the physician turned back and refused to undertake the preservation. So the body was never preserved.

At Jerusalem, trouble began when a meeting was called to deliberate Baba Simeo’s burial plans. Already Simeo had arranged for his burial at Calvary Hill and the grave was already prepared. But the people of Jerusalem together with the clan of Kadem felt that Simeo had lived among them for years and was now one of them. Therefore, they felt his body should have been buried at Jerusalem, and not Calvary.

 To resolve the issue, the serving pope Atila Timotheo ruled that the burial had to take place at Calvary as Simeo had wished. But in response, the people of Kadem made a grave and hurriedly buried the body. Then, they guarded the grave so fiercely in order to prevent anyone from exhuming it. But Timotheo Atila reported to the police and a lorry of policemen was sent to exhume the body and guard it until it was buried at Calvary.