The Star (Nairobi)

21 December 2012

Africa: December 21 Doomsday

opinion

Today is apparently the end of the world, cue in the eye-rolling. If you're anything like me, you probably agree that the end of the world is more of a personal experience and not at all a catastrophe experienced en masse and simultaneously by everyone else on earth.

I like to believe that the end of the world happens when you die. No nuclear bombs or radiation but maybe just a gruesome car accident or a fatal disease - the usual stuff.

But for those who want to live forever, or at least beyond this Friday, there are luxurious bomb-proof shelters in Montebello, California which come complete with a plasma, leather sofa and wooden flooring just in case the Mayans' prediction comes true - the civilisation's Long Count calender began 5,125 years ago in 3133 B.C and ends December 21, 2012, thus sparking fears of a major catastrophe this Friday.

As such, for $46,000 (Sh3.9 million), Ron Hubbard will build you a hi-tech, underground bomb-proof shelter which at 20-feet deep might just protect you from the ravages of the end of the world. These cylindrical shelters are 500 square feet and each measure 10 feet in diameter and are 50 feet long.

The following are some of the numerous doomsday predictions that have came to naught:

1346-51: The black plague which spread across Europe was interpreted by many as the sign of the end of times.

1528: Hans Hut, a very active Anabaptist in Southern Germany and Austria, predicted the end world would be on May 27, 1528.

1600: Martin Luther, a German priest important in the protestant reformation predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600.

1793-1795: Richard Brothers, an early believer and teacher of Anglo-Israelism (a theory concerning the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel), stated that millennium would begin between 1793 and 1795. He was eventually committed to an insane asylum.

1915: John Chilembwe, a baptist educator and leader of a rebellion in Nyasaland, predicted the millennium would begin this year.

1941: Jehovah's Witnesses predicted the end of the world.

1990: Elizabeth Clare Prophet, an American spiritual author and lecturer predicted a nuclear war would start on April 23, 1990, with the world ending 12 years later. She subsequently led her followers into stockpiling a shelter with supplies and weapons. Later, after Prophet's prediction did not come to pass, she was diagnosed with epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

1997: Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven's Gate Cult, claimed that a spacecraft was trailing the Comet Hale-Bopp and maintained that suicide was "the only way to evacuate this Earth" before March 26 of that year so that the cult members' souls could board the supposed craft and be taken to another "level of existence above human". Applewhite and 38 of his followers committed mass suicide.

1998: Hon-Ming Chen, leader of the Taiwanese cult God's Salvation Church, or Chen Tao -- "The True Way" -- claimed that God would come to Earth in a flying saucer at 10am on March 31, 1998. Chen moreover claimed that God would have the same physical appearance as Chen himself. On March 25, God was to appear on Channel 18 on every TV set in the US before the actual doomsday. Chen chose to base his cult in Garland, Texas, because he thought it sounded like "God's Land."

2000: Isaac Newton predicted that Christ's Millennium would begin in the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.

2000: Predictions of a Y2K computer bug were to crash many computers and would malfunction causing major catastrophes worldwide and that society would cease to function.

2011: Harold Camping, an American Christian radio broadcaster, predicted that the Rapture and devastating earthquakes would take place on May 21 and that God would take approximately three per cent of the world's population into heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21.

2012: José Luis de Jesús predicted that the world's governments and economies would fail on June 30, 2012 and that he and his followers would undergo a transformation that would allow them to fly and walk through walls.

Godspeed to all those anticipating the end of the world today and to those that aren't, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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