60. Matthias Yaliwan, Cult Leader, 1971

In the late 60s one Matthias Yaliwan convinced his 60,000 followers that wealth and goods would come to the people if the trigonometric marker on top of Mt. Turu near Yangoru was removed. Game would return to the bush and everybody would have money in plenty. To promote the success of the venture people sat in 'offices' passing round pieces of paper, talking gibberish into tin can 'telephones'; girls shook coins in dishes in money houses to produce increase etc., etc. In mid-1971 the large concrete marker was dug out and passed reverently down the mountain in complete silence and returned to the kiap of Yangoru P.P. The government thought it best to just sit back. As expected, the movement soon fizzled out but Yaliwan was later elected to a seat in parliament, a job beyond most politicians' abilities to make a good fist of in my opinion. Later on I climbed up the mountain with other curious expats to Yaliwan's village, Ambukanja, on Turu's slopes and had an audience with him. Contrary to expectations he was dignified and undemonstrative in his demeanour. Unfortunately I didn't keep a record of our questions and his answers....another lost opportunity!

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