As soon as word reached Mwisho wa Lami and its environs that His Holiness Pope Francis will be visiting Kenya, Apostle Overseer Elkana, the Revered Spiritual Superintendent of THOAG (The Holiest of All Ghosts) Tabernacle Assembly, announced to everyone that his church is an off-shoot of the Catholic Church.
“We broke away from the Kenyan Catholic church but we are still members of the Roman Catholic Church and I report to the Pope,” he said in a sermon. Although I no longer go to his church, I have my ears on the ground and such things always reach my sharp ears. Three weeks ago, he visited the staff room with the same message.
“The Kenyan Catholic church has refused to recognise and accept us but the Pope has no problem with me,” he said. After taking me down memory lane as to how they broke away from the Catholic Church, I asked him why he was telling me all that.
“I need you to help me raise funds to go to Nairobi and meet the Pope,” he said. “I will lead a delegation of 10 people from Mwisho wa Lami to attend the mass and meet the Pope. The Pope has asked to meet me personally.”
I reminded him that I had already heard he was raising money in the church and in Mwisho wa Lami village.
“That is true but hao wote ni mkono birika,” he said. “Wanatoa tu shilingi tano ama kumi.” So far they had raised Sh420 which, according to him.
I reminded him that teachers could have helped but they have had challenges recently.
“I know what you are saying,” he said. “Your problems began when you and all teachers here refused to come to my church. My anointing oil was working well but once you stopped taking it, teachers’ problems began. And they won’t stop until you come back home and start taking the oil again.”
I did not want to argue with him since although it was true that we got favourable rulings when I was under the influence of the anointing oil, I cannot say for sure that it was the main reason.
I invited him to the staffroom where he talked to teachers directly. Several of them pledged to give money. He asked if I could allow him to address the pupils. As the church that sponsor’s our school – “sponsor” here means that the church that is nearest to our school – I could not prevent him from addressing the pupils. We invited him on parade Friday.
Rather than just address the pupils, he turned the parade into a service. There was song and dance followed by preaching.
“You all have heard that the Pope is coming,” he asked after the sermon. Not many pupils answered him, as not may had heard about the Pope. “We need to support the Pope as he comes to Kenya.”
He announced that every pupil should come with Sh20 on Monday to raise funds for the Pope’s visit. “Tell your parents that you will receive many blessings for paying for Pope’s visit. He will be here for a week and we need to all help pay for his air tickets, hotel among others. He encouraged those who could give more than Sh20 to give. He reminded the KCPE candidates, that they needed to give more. “The more you give, the more you will pass,” he declared.
During the weekend, Apostle Elkana did not waste time, he talked to as many parents he met, telling them to give their children whatever they could get.
Come Monday morning and Apostle Elkana was in school very early. During parade, he prayed for the school, pupils and teachers. He said special prayers for all pupils who were already sitting exams, followed by a special prayer for the KCPE candidates.
He then announced that he would personally collect the money after the parade – and bless the pupils as he did so.
After parade, as students went to class and teachers started preparing to teach, Apostle Elkana moved from one classroom to another with his collection bag. Once he was done with the pupils, he passed by my office to express his gratitude.
Although he had not counted the money, it was clear from his face that he had collected quite some good money and was too eager to get home and count. Amazingly, there were some notes in the collections. But Apostle Elkana still wanted more.
“There are some who have said they will bring tomorrow,” he said. “Please collect for me and bring it. Also collect from the teachers and bring it to me. Sitakuwacha bure Dre.”
Meanwhile, things were happening at THOAG. Sources closer to the source told me that the list of the people to go to Nairobi kept changing based on Apostle’s mood and how close the person was to him at a particular time of day. But the specific names had not been announced. The members whose names were on people’s lips were Tito and his wife Sandra; Anindo (Nyayo’s wife); Rasto, Abednego the choir master and Elkana’s wife.
By last Saturday, word spread that the delegation had been trimmed from 10 to six due to financial constraints. No one knew or said the actual source of the information but tellingly, Elkana had organised for a fund raising last Sunday “to raise funds for Pope’s visit”. I had been invited. I attended not because I had any money to give but because I wanted to be at the centre of the action. Depending on sources closer to the source was never good enough. Sh1,132 was raised that day.
“We thank God for the much we have received so far,” he said, although there was clear disappointment on his face. He had expected more.
He went on: “We had planned to go about 10 of us but what has been collected so far cannot take that number. Nairobi is a very expensive city and the hotels are now charging a lot.”
He went on: “Unless a miracle happens, I will only be accompanied by three people. I do not know who the three will be but I will pray and God will reveal to me who I should go with. I will quietly tell those people and we will leave early Wednesday morning.” All the people whose names had been mentioned went home hoping to hear from the Apostle.
As people were still waiting to be contacted by the Apostle, come Tuesday morning, word spread that he had been seen boarding a Nairobi-bound Msamaria Mwema, accompanied by Anindo, Nyayo’s wife.
On hearing this, Nyayo was very mad. “I had no problem if others went as well,” he said at Hitler’s that evening. “I cannot trust my wife with that man especially since she has never been to Nairobi.”
The next day, news reached us that the two had actually alighted in Nakuru and not Nairobi. The news was apparently from a Msamaria Mwema bus conductor but this has never been confirmed. Indeed, Nyayo’s brother who stays in Nakuru, when called, confirmed that he had seem people who looked like Apostle Elkana and Anindo in Nakuru.
“Atajua mimi ni nani,” Nyayo kept saying. Yesterday, he was at Mwisho wa Lami market in the evening waiting for the two to alight from Msamaria Mwema, but they did not. In his pocket was a knife.
Nyayo is still waiting for the two today. He has promised fireworks!