Kenya: 11 KCPE Candidates Shun Exam Over Kabonokia Faith

30 October 2019

At least 11 candidates in Tharaka North Sub-County who dropped out of school earlier in the year after their parents joined the Kabonokia religious sect did not turn up for the for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination.

At Kamacabi Primary School, five candidates could not be found at their homes.

Three candidates from Gaciongo Primary School were also missing.

Three other desks remained empty at Twantanju, Kamagajiu and Kamasabi primary schools after their occupants also declined to sit the examination.

The Nation established that those who had dropped from Kandondo, Kamarenge and Usweni primary schools were convinced to sit the examination.

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

The parents withdrew their children from school on grounds of their faith because to them, the earthly knowledge taught in schools contradicts the Bible.

Speaking to the Nation on Wednesday, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Tharaka-Nithi County chapter chairman Ndia Gwaitia said some of the candidates fled their homes after their parents were arrested and jailed for declining to be enumerated during census.

"These candidates fled their homes and went into hiding fearing that they would also be arrested after their parents were jailed," said Mr Gwatia.

During this year's population census, 46 members of the sect were jailed for between six and 12 months for refusing to be enumerated, terming the exercise as satanic. The believers also avoided Huduma Namba registration.

Mr Gwatia said efforts by education and administration officials to look for the candidates did not bear fruit.

CRACKDOWN

Earlier in the week, County Commissioner Beverly Opwora said following a crackdown launched on members of the Kabonokia religious sect who had withdrawn their children from school, 40 had returned.

At least 280 learners dropped from school between January and August this year according to Tharaka North Sub-County Director of Education Geoffrey Ndeo.

Ms Opwora has vowed that the crackdown will continue until all children of school going age join learning institutions as basic education is mandatory in the country.

Contacted, Tharaka Nithi County Director of Education MS Bridget Wambua and Tharaka North Sub-County Director of Education Geoffrey Ndeto said they were in a meeting and could only respond later.

KABONKIA FAITH

In Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, Embu and Kitui counties, the sect is headed by Mr Gitonga M'Mpunguru, a 70-year-old man and a resident of Irunduni village in Tharaka North Sub-County and the church's regional headquarters is at his home where they congregate on Sundays.

The members do not give offerings or tithe in church and do not go to hospital or allow their children to be immunized.

A few months ago, a nurse working with Tharaka-Nithi County government allegedly quit her job after explaining that they are only allowed to farm, "the work that was started and blessed by God in the Garden of Eden".

The sect members do not register for national identification cards, birth certificates or participate in elections because they believe them to be earthly documents and activities.

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