The messiah will come back for the third time. Nearly two decades after his death, messiah Melkio Simeo Ondetto will collect his followers and go with them to heaven.
As Christians wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ, the followers of Legio Maria believe Christ had already come, as messiah Melkio Ondetto, and they only await his third coming. Biblically, the book of Daniel prophesize the second coming of Christ as south of Palestine, East Africa where Ondetto came from. This strengthens the idea of third coming.
It is the sane book of Daniel that Rastafarians believe emperor Haile Sellasie is the messiah and power of the trinity as the son.
“We the followers of Legio Maria and messiah Melkio believe he is Christ and resurrected to heaven with God. We only await his third coming.” Says Cardinal Alexus Ogolla Agalo at Jerusalem Amoyo village in Kadem area of the newly commissioned Nyatike district.
The cardinal added that the messiah who was buried on 14th September 1991 at the ‘Calvary’ in Suba west division in Migori district will surely come for the third time to take his faithful to heaven.
The visit to the church’s headquarters at Amoyo village which the sect members call ‘Jerusalem’ as in biblical times of Jesus Christ reveled over 560 members praying earnestly for the third coming of their messiah.
Their leader cardinal Alexus says the members are constantly praying for the end of tribulations in the country like cholera outbreak, famine, the wrangles in the coalition government and the Miring saga.
18 years after the death of Melkio Simeo, the followers still believe he will come back to get rid of sin and misery in the world.
The origin of the Legio Maria.
The current movement of Legio Maria is said to have been started as Legion of Mary at Myra Dublin, Ireland on 7th September 1921 by Catholics to fulfill their baptismal vows by dedicating themselves to the church. The movement brought it to East Africa in 1939.
It was from the sect that the founding mother of the church, Gaudensia Aoko inherited it to Legio Maria , which means the large followers of Maria.
Although gone physically and buried at Nzoia in Siaya which the sect call the land of Efeso. She is adored spiritually as the equivalent of Virgin Mary the mother of Christ.
The faithfuls have built her a shrine in Jerusalem Amoyo and worship her through bead rosaries.
Father Cyprian Bwire, a priest at St. Peters clever church in Migori town refutes the claim of the church starting ion Ireland. He says the church was started for Africans and by Africans making it a truly African church.
Bwire narrates that the holy mother, mama matakatifu Maria, origins and relatives are not known. But she came with a vision directly from heaven to start the Legio Maria sect and search for her lost son, Melkio Simeo. Her followers who saw the light adopts ‘oyawore’ as form of greeting in dholuo which means they have seen the light.
Mama Maria met his son baba Melkio at Got Kweru in Migori . Initially the place was called ‘okwong’(from dholuo, cursed) because it was a sacrificial place for the Luo people.
The place was later called Calvary by followers because the messiah was buried there.
Messiah Melkio Simeo became a catechist at Nyandago Catholic Church where they broke up with a white priest who claimed that the messiah went against the church doctrine by baptizing people en-masse.
It was these reasons that the messiah and mama matakatifu rebelled and broke up with the Roman Catholic Church to start an African church away from the white colonialist church.
The priest, Bwire, quotes the messiah as saying:
“My people the blacks I have come for your safety because you have been ill-treated, I heard the white man abusing the black man ‘monkey’ although I created all of them. I have come to show the Whiteman that the Blackman is also a human being.”
After breaking with the Catholic Church the messiah and his followers went to Kajonis Baru area near Got Kweru to officially start the church and re3ceive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The villagers were amazed as they saws the heavens open and heard songs, though they could not see anybody. The two Dholuo songs and one in Latin: ‘Yesus osebiro e chunya(Jesus has come to my heart) and ‘Chon Nyasaye ochiko okelo ng’a mawarowa(God has brought the messiah) together with ‘Gloria in excleis Deo’(glory to God) gave them the spirit to proclaim the gospel.
The sect saw tremendous spread in 1960s in East Africa, including Congo, Nigeria and three churches in Ethiopia which father Bwire attributes to the Holy Spirit.
And before her death mama matakatifu passed the mantle of leasde3rship to messiah Simeo Melkio Ondetto and blessed timothy Blassio Atila as the pope of the sect in 1960.
The messiah Simeo Melkio Ondetto built the Jerusalem Amoyo in 1963 after taking leadership of the church.
The messiah was first buried at Jerusalem Amoyo when he died on 5th September 1991 and was later reburied at Calvary, Got Kweru, according to his wish and will on 14th of the same month.
“On baba(father’s) death there was a tussle between the Kadem and Suna people over his burial site because Ondetto resided at Kadem although the church was started in Suna” explains Cardinal Alexus. The score was settled the messiah will dictated he had to be buried in Calvary.
Like his spiritual mother, Gaudensia Aoko, the place of birth and origin of the messiah is shrouded with misery.
It is claimed that around 1923 a man named Obimbo Misumba was approached by destitute child for shelter while herding his cattle around his homestead at Angoro village, Awasi in Kano plains.
Mr. Misumba and his wife Margeret adopted the stammering Simeo Melkio as a herdboy to run errands in the home. Melkio got his nickname ‘Ondetto’ which stuck with him to adulthood, the name meant ‘the scratcher’ because the lice and jiggers which infested Melkio made him scratch his body continuously.
Father Bwire said that the messiah met his met his mother, Gaudensia, while herding cattle in Migori.
The claim of adoption was refuted during his burial.
The then dean of cardinals, nelson Obimbo said the messiah was his biological brother born in 1926 Obimbo Misumba and Margeret Aduwo Obimbo.
Cardinal Nelson added that it was at this time that the boy-messiah started showing supernatural powers.
The black Christ, Black messiah
Is Simeo the messiah? The Christ?
Cardinal; Alexus speaking from Jerusalem Amoyo says Melkio is the Christ and t prove he says he performed the same miracles as Jesus Christ of the bible and later persecuted the same way.
“The prophesy in the book of Luke 21:12-20 about persecution was fulfilled by baba matakatifu” adds father Bwire.
Ondetto and 37 followers in 1960’s were beaten up , badly by the government and locked up at Kodiaga prison in Kisumu. Though his bone was broken and his body was spitting pus, Ondetto rejoiced in tribulation with ardent followers.
The messiah was tried in Kisii and Kisumu law courts and found guilty of holding illegal meetings.
Passing the judgment, the then senior magistrate at Kisumu law courts john Abraham described Ondetto and his followers as:
“A collection of lapsed Catholics and pagans practicing heresy that is a mockery to Christianity and Roman Catholic Church”
While preaching at Ogwethi, Migori, messiah cursed a fig tree which dried up when it could not offer fig to him and his angry followers.
In addition the black messiah healed the sick and performed the same miracle as his counterpart the son of Joseph and Mary of Bethlehem.
While visiting St. Joanes church in Winam division in Kisumu he raised a dead woman. He ordered the body which was dead for 112 hours be brought to him. Though no date is given, the messiah raised the woman who immediately asked for porridge and drank it o the bewilderment of onlookers.
The woman went home praising God.
In another incident at Nzoia Ondetto ordered a heavy downpour to stop when it threatened to disrupt his open prayer meeting. The messiah started prophesying and speaking in parables to the bewildered audience.
To people who readily rubbish Legio Maria as fanatics and heretics father Bwire has this for them;
“I(Melkio) am coming soon. Keep safe what you have, so that no one will rob you of your victory prize. If you have ears then listen” says the priest quoting revelations 32:10-13.
And controversy never seized to surround messiah. The most controversial, perhaps, is on April 3rd, 1988 when it is claimed he died and resurrected at Jerusalem Amoyo.
Father Bwire confirms the incident took place and affirms that older followers like cardinal Alexus who saw the messiah were there during the incident.
On resurrection the messiah claimed he met a lot of saints like Francis is Assisi. The most vivid discretion was hell.
“I found a man being weighed on a balance before a very big book. God and evil were debating on the man’s soul. Then God asked the devil if the man was his, of which the devil replied ‘I know he is mine’. God allowed the devil to chain the person’s neck and drag him away to hell.”
Although he didn’t see hell, he said that he heard people wailing and begging for mercy.
The political mileage
The late politician Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was a personal friend of Ondetto calling him Messiah. In 1965 when Jaramogi was the vice president and minister of home affairs in charge of immigration, police and prisons he was instrumental in registration of the sect.
Jaramogi and his spiritual adviser took undated photo with Oginga holding a flywhisk. Politically these was a move usurped Ondetto’s fanatical following sweeping through Nyanza.
Conversely Melkio had stormy relationship with late Tom Mboya who was running a parallel force to quell his power. According to father Bwire, the Catholic Church approached Mboya to curb the sect growth.
Ondetto saw Mboya’s hand in his persecution by the government.
A day before Mboya’s assassination, the messiah prophesied a catastrophe. True to the prophesy on 5th July 1969 Mboya was assassinated in a doorway of a pharmacy on government road, now Tom Mboya street.
Mr. Isaac Njenga Njoroge was later convicted for the murder.
The sect relations went smoother when messiah met former president Jomo Kenyatta in 1977 and was assured of freedom of the sect worship.
To date politicians still use the sect for mileage. 2kms away from Migori-Muhuru road, Amoyo center is connected with electricity.
“We constantly get offers from politicians and well wishers.” Cardinal Alexus told Migori DC Julius Mutula. “The area MP Edick Anyanga gave us Ksh. 3000,00 to start the foundation of a new church building.”
The Holy Mother churches of Nyanza province and Legio Maria.
During her life, Gaudensia Aoko the founding mother of the Legio Maria church was a herbalist with supernatural powers of healing and exorcising evil spirits through prayers and prophesy.
The founding mother is highly adored by followers of her sect who equate her to the biblical Virgin Mary.
Through her a practice culminated of ‘mothers’ headi8ng t6raditional African-Christian churches in Nyanza province after her death in 1960. The holy mother who is the spiritual mother of messiah Melkio Simeo Ondetto was buried at Nzoia in Siaya district.
Under the current setup, the mothers today divide a section of their homestead to build a church. The woman the claims super-natural powers to heal disease, solve problems and prophesize of the future through prayers and sometimes traditional herbs.
The mothers live from the preceding from their client’s and offering from their followers.
Always revered the women have followers to carry out their domestic chores for hope of blessing from the mother.
On designated days on the week the followers constantly meet at the ‘church’ to pray together.
(Black Messiah: Top Melkio Ondetto the spiritual leader of Legio Maria. Bottom: While in prison at Kisii Town in South Nyanza, notice the Caucusian Features.)