Kavonokya sect members resist face masks and sanitizers

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A past photo of Kavonokya sect members during a prayer session. The members have denounced the use of face masks and sanitizers. (Photo credit - Courtesy)

Kavonokya sect members in Mwingi Central sub-county, Kitui county have said that they don’t believe in the use of face masks and sanitizers, two things that are central to the war on Covid-19.

Mauvoo News went to Mutwangombe village in Mwingi Central and met with one of Kavonokya sect members Mutua Kosovo who said he is wearing a mask for fear of police and not to protect himself and others from Covid-19.

“We believe that Coronavirus is God’s punishment just like any other disease. As a Kavonokya, I believe in God’s protection and healing. I am just wearing this mask for fear of arrest. I am not fearing Coronavirus at all.” Kosovo said.

In Ukambani, Kavonokya sect followers are mostly found in Mwingi Central, Kitui South and Kitui Rural in Kitui county. The sect has been known for its strict belief that there is no power of healing in medicine but only prayers can heal.

They term everything that is against their faith as “ngoma” meaning demon and always pray openly to cast out the demon once provoked by non-believers.

When Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, they left many with mouths wide open, when they bowed and adhered to government measures on protection against the deadly virus.

One of the members Mwikali Komu said since the first Covid-19 case was announced, things have not been the same for all churches (Syikalo as they refer to the church in Kikamba) after the Governemnt ordered closure of worship places and they had to obey.

“Our God cannot fit in a four-wall constructed house in the name of the church. That’s why we worship under a tree and refer to it as kikalo or syikalo if many,” she adds.

He said even if corona was to spread in churches then they were ready for that since that’s a place of worship. They say knew they will be arrested since they are always “targeted” in such matters by the police.

“If people think that we are using a mask to prevent corona then they are sick. We are just fearing “police brutality” which other Kenyans have faced. We fear being arrested as well and that’s why we just found it better to use the masks, and close our church,” she added.

He insisted their faith cannot allow them to put on surgical masks but only masks made of nylon and cotton materials that are hand-sewn.

“See this one am using, it’s hand-sewn. It can’t even hold a drop of sweat, we use any other material provided it’s not surgical mask. We only want to stay safe from the police and not COVID-19 since God is always on our side, if any of us is infected and dies, we will all believe God needed him or her in heaven.” He laughed and said.

Maithya Mwanzia, another Kavonokya sect member said they have been shaking hands as usual and pray if any of their members are infected God would heal them.

Mwanzia said they only wash hand using soap and water. They don’t use sanitizer since it’s a chemical.

Even after the president announced the reopening of churches with time limits and a limited number of people, Mwanzia told us that they are still waiting for God to give them directions on opening. “Meanwhile, we are waiting for His voice to communicate to us on the way forward,” he added.

Nicholas Munyoki area chief Kanzui in Mwingi central which is one of the areas with the big number of the sect followers said he is at peace since this time around the sect adhered to Government directives.

During vaccination, some of the members have previously been arrested for eloping with their children. Some of the members refused to participate in the census exercise.

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