Church of slaps and fines for sinners
Worshippers are routinely slapped and harangued in a Nairobi church.
Strict rules of decency and morality are ruthlessly enforced by the pastor, self-styled prophetess Mary Sinaida Akatsa.
People who fall foul of the church doctrine are slapped or forced to kneel in penitence outside. Some are excommunicated altogether.
On Sunday, hundreds of worshippers lined on both sides of the road leading to the church in Kawangware from five in the morning.
She showed up at 11am. Standing in the middle of the huge open steel gate, Akatsa scrutinised each worshipper amidst a frenzy of dance and song.
Periodically, she would pull a worshipper from the file, declaring him or her a sinner and order them to kneel some distance from the gate.
“You shake your hindquarters in a very ungodly manner. I will not allow prostitution in the church. Go and never return,” Akatsa shouted to a woman in her early twenties.
The woman, who was not in flowing robes like other worshippers tried to join a group of kneeling late comers next to the gate only to be cursed and driven away.
The men used a separate entry and they were not spared either. Those the pastor labeled ‘suspects’ were not allowed in. Anyone who interacted with them had to kneel and part with cash.
A man the prophetess referred to as ‘Manager’ was late but talked to ‘suspects’ unknowingly.
“Manager, how dare you conspire with murderers. Don’t dare come near me,” shouted the pastor.
The man approached on his knees as she held three young men by their shirts and slapped them to “exorcise the demons of death.”
On reaching Akatsa’s feet still on his knees, the prophet ordered him to give her cash.
He removed a Sh500 note from his pocket which the prophetess declined and only accepted after he added Sh250.
Strangely, she handed the money to the men she had earlier slapped.
“I don’t take offerings. I help these rapists,” she shouted to the crowd.
Akatsa shot to global fame in June of 1988 after claiming that Jesus Christ had visited her church in Kawangware.