LEGIO MARIA CHURCH FACES DISINTEGRATION AS THE RESULT OF ENDLESS POWER STRUGGLE BETWEEN ITS THREE TOP LEADERS EACH ONE OF THEM WANT TO BE THE POPE
Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.
Wed, Nov 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM
LEGIO Maria of Africa is facing a lean time. The Church which is believed to have close to 3 million followers scattered all over East Africa could integrate if its leadership power struggle is not resolved soon.
Founded in Siaya by one woman Gaudencia Aoko in the late 1950 Legion Maria took the Luo-Nyanza by storm in the 1960s as it was seen as an indigenous church, and thousands of followers of Roman Catholic Church defected to it..
But its founder Aoko was later overthrown by the younger and aggressive Pope Melkio Ondeto in whose leadership he church grew from an obscure to a powerful church, which attracted mass following, mainly inside Luo Nyanza. It later spread its wing to all parts of the Eastern Africa regions.
Just a few weeks ago ,Got Kwer, which is the church headquarter situated on the hill-top was turned into the bloody battle ground between supporters of the current Pope Romanus Ong’ombe and another pope Raphael Adika.
Pope Adika who it is being alleged to have lost the battle for the supreme leadership of the church had tried to regain his leadership position, while supporters of the current Pope Romanus Ong’ombe are insisting that Adika’s removal was final and irreversible
The close to three days of intermittent fracases, during which score of people sustained bodily injuries only stopped after the intervention of the Police in Migori, who to custody a number of the combatants.
Lso involved in the battle for the control lf the church Pope Wilson Owino Obimbo who was himself ousted a couple of years ago by Pope Adika..
Bu the ugly face of the power struggle resurfaced two weeks ago during Harambee fund drive, which was presided by the Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga..The ODM leader tried in vain to reconcile the warring groups, and even at one time paraded the three Pope before the mammoth of enthusiastic crowd, but his efforts failed miserably as both Raphael Adika and his successor Romanus Ong’ombe stood their grounds.
Supporters of the two factions maintained that what is at stake cannot be resolved on a political platform, but through dialogue and proper consultation.
When Raila called the three to come forward before the crowd and reconcile, it was Wilson Owino Obimbo who bitterly addressed the crowd and said that he had invested a lot of his personal resources in developing Legio Maria Church and therefore cannot sit aside and watch somebody else controlling it.
On hjs part Adika also, said that what is at stake need more time and consultations to be resolved..
Legion aria Church gained its fame inside Luo-Nyanza because it was perceived to be the church which is supported by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Jaramogi frequently hosted its leader Pope Melkio Ondero in his Kang’o Ka-Jaramogi Nyamira home in Sakwa Bondo.
The late Jaramogi who was a follower of the CMS and later Anglican Church was baptized as Adonija Obadiah Ogiunga Odinga, But during e later part of his life, he switched to Legio Maria and unconfirm reports filtering out suggested that he might have been re-baptized as Gabriel Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and that Pope Ondeto personally officiated in the baptism exercise, though the date and place is not known.
Soon immediately after his release from detention camp, there was a big congregation and vigil prayers conducted by pope Mesiah Melkio Ondeto at the Jaramogi Bondo home, which was attended by thousands of people who fisted on over ten fat bulls and dozens of goats and sheep and other Luo traditional dishes.
This writer acted as the official photographer, hired specifically by Jaramogi to .take pictures of the events.
Rumors making the round is that Raila is supporting one factions hence the source of conflict and power struggles. It is also believed that the seemingly endless power struggle is over the Church’s resources.
However, after the death of Mesiah Melkio Ondeto a couple of years ago, the church has been embroiled in intensive power struggle and numerous legal tussles in courts over its leadership..At one time there was the Pope Hitler Chiaji.