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KIT Staff U.S.: Charles Lamar, Editor; Vincent Lagano, Assistant Editor; David E. Ostrom, research.
EuroKIT: Linda Lord Jackson, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Benedict Cavanna
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K e e p I n T o u c h
There continues to be a gag order in effect, imposed by the High Court in England, regarding certain lawsuits involving the Bruderhof, both here and in the UK. We could skirt the injunction by publishing a discrete synopsis of events, but the interests of those most immediately involved (the ones not on the Bruderhof) might conceivably be harmed. Besides, the injunction will lift, in due course, and everything will come out in the open anyway.
Suffice it to say that the Bruderhof leaders now control millions and millions of dollars. They have invested a lot of that money in Rifton Aviation. The financial connection between the Bruderhof and Rifton Aviation is obvious. So, from now on, the interests of those who control the Bruderhof / Rifton Aviation money will be compromised by any bad publicity about the Bruderhof.
The problem they face is that there is very little that can be said in truth about the Bruderhof which would not be bad publicity for them. So, just as they have always done, they want to keep their evil doings in the Bruderhof secret. But eventually, all the wealth and fame which accrue either to Rifton Aviation or to the Bruderhof itself will make this impossible.
In the mean time, their continued use of the courts in an attempt to control their public image represents a very high-risk strategy for them, because once the legal system(s) turns against them, all the skeletons in the Bruderhof closet can and will tumble out in an ugly, ugly heap.
So in the mean time what should KITfolk do but continue to tell the truth about ourselves and about the Bruderhof, as we have a perfect right to do? That way, when the spotlight of publicity finally comes, whether shined on us because of the pretentious doings of the Bruderhof leaders or because of our own doings, the truth about the Bruderhof will be plainly available for all the world to see.
Table of Contents
Linda Lord Jackson
Pauline Ellison and Linda Lord Jackson
Lee Maria Kleiss
Rev. Inno Idiong
Ben Cavanna, 9/16/00: I just had a phone call from Christine Mathis Rimes. She heard yesterday that her mother, Olwen, had died on one of the US Bruderhofs. Someone from the Bruderhof called another family member who is out, very early Friday, and they were told the burial would be that day.
Christine and family are of course very upset, and Christine is very angry with the way she has been kept from seeing her mother. But she also said that at last her mother is out of prison.
I remember Olwen teaching this two left footed ten year old to dance!
Berndt Hasenberg, 9/24/00: This morning I got a call from my sisters Maureen and Irene at the community telling me they had sad news and joyful news.
My mother, Kathleen Hasenberg died on September 20, 2000, at the age of ninety-three. She died peacefully after requesting a song by family members around her.
It was a moving funeral, with over two hundred bouquets at the grave, according to my sisters. I am certainly glad my mother was happy on the Bruderhof, well looked after, and that she died peacefully, without apparent illness.
A few years ago, my mother wrote asking me not to come to the Bruderhof should she get ill, or worse.
The 20th of September was my birthday, and my mother mentioned my two children before she died.
I have been asking for a visit since 1995 for my two daughters, so that they could get to know their grandmother. My sisters and my mother acknowledged it would be nice if Janine and Jennifer saw their grandmother; perhaps it could be arranged sometime. It never was.
This summer I promised my girls I would write to Christoph Arnold to see if they could visit my mother. I never did write to Christoph Arnold.
My daughters are twelve and fourteen, and saw my mother once in '92, too young to remember much.
Now my oldest is crying, and Mama is dead.
I am upset at myself and angry at the Bruderhof leadership for so strictly limiting family visits.
Love to all,
Linda Lord Jackson, 10/4/00: Colin Rimes, father of Roger and Daphne Rimes uncle of Christine, Wendy and Michael died a few days ago.
Elizabeth Bohlken Zumpe, 10/4/00: In Memory of Kathleen Hasenberg
With Kathleen Hamilton Hasenberg a wonderful person was taken from her family and the Bruderhof.
Kathleen was born in India, where both of her parents were Theologian Missionaries. They met very romantically in Tibet and made their promise to be loyal there in the mountains one evening with the setting sun. The children grew up knowing the poverty and misery of many Indian people and were taught to respect and love all men equally, regardless of color or creed. Her first difficulty arose, when she and her sisterswere sent to boarding school and had to leave their loving parental home. Later she studied English at the University of Scotland.
In 1934 Hardy Arnold stayed at her parents home in Edinburgh and Kathleen was very moved to hear about this poor, Christian Community in Germany that tried to live a life of love in a country where Hitler had just come to power. She started sending her salary to the Rhön Bruderhof. Later on she decided to visit. After that visit knew, that she wanted to join the Bruderhof. At the end of 1934 she came for good.
She married Erich Hasenberg 1938. It was a double wedding along with Jan and Susie Fros.
Erich and Kathleen had 6 children: Irene and Maureen, who still live in the Community and Edith, who died of cancer a few years ago in Germany; Jean and Brenda who both live in Germany and Berndt who lives in Canada with his wife and two daughters.
The Hasenberg family was kicked out of the Bruderhof Community in 1960 with no specific reason given. After about ten years outside, Kathleen rejoined the Bruderhof because she wanted to be loyal to her vows, while Erich and four of their children remained in Germany. In September the news came, that she had died and was buried before her children had a last chance to see their much loved mother, now at an age of 94 years.
Somehow, I had always loved Erich. When I was two years old, he would carry me from the Toddlers Room in the main house at the Alm-Bruderhof through the deep snow to our home in one of the huts on the hills. He felt so safe to me that this bond will always be in my memory. My first memory of Kathleen is what I believed a princess would look like. She was slender; she liked to wear green and blue, and she had a crown of golden hair that she wore in thick braids around her head. When the sun shone, it was real gold!
My mother was sick, and I was usually the last one to be picked up from Kindergarten. Kathleen would come to clean up the place and she would always smile at me and pat me on the head, which felt so good.
I remember the wedding too, although I was not quite four years old. We play-acted some kind of play in which I was the sun, someone the moon and the rest of the children were stars. I stood on a chair with a big sun on my chest and kept looking at the golden "crown" of Kathleen. When they came back from their honeymoon, I, a four-and-a-half-year-old, was officially invited for Tea.
Kathleen had a little green milk-jug (which later I heard came from her parents home). I could not keep my eyes of this beautifully glass-cut object. Erich said:" You would like that, wouldn't you?" And Kathleen said something to the effect of:"Oh no!" I got it anyhow and run down the stairs with my treasure fell and to my dismay saw only lots of green glass splinters sparkling in the sunlight! So sad!
Then they left for Paraguay and the next thing I remember was sharing the same Halle (our first open buildings in Primavera) without any kind of wall or separations, just one bed next to the other. Mothers would have the cots of their children around their own bed.
Kathleen had a little baby maybe Maureen and the baby was crying all night. She was asked to bring it to the bakery at night so that none of us would be disturbed. We could still hear the poor baby scream, and I felt sorry for Kathleen who could not sleep and was crying in bed missing the baby, I think.
Much later, I went to school in Isla Margarita and Kathleen was our English Teacher. Her language was very precise and clear and she would not tolerate any nonsense from us. Inasmuch as we all really liked her, we behaved anyhow. She taught us a poem, which although I did not really understand, I always have remembered. I must have been about thirteen years old. I have no idea at all who is the author. It starts with:
|"The moon is up, the
stars are bright
The wind is fresh and free."
The last verse is:
"We're sick of all the cringing knees
This poem really impresses me, even to this day.
I met Kathleen again in Germany, 1963, after my engagement to Hans. Kilian and I went to Tierberg to pick up Kilian's belongings. He had stayed there for some months before he returned to England. It was a cold winter day, high snow, and the roads icy and slippery. The Hasenbergs and the Wiegands lived together in a big unheated house, trying to make the best of the situation. Kathleen was sitting outside in a shed peeling potatoes, her hands frozen and blistered by the cold. She took me to her room where a long washline took up most of the space full of wet and cold washing.
I returned to the States at the end of January and told Annemarie and Heini what I had found in Tierberg and asked them if the Community could send financial help. They did send $2000, which Kathleen handed to Gerhard Wiegand for the support he had given.
Hans and I married in June of 1963 and visited Kathleen and Erich several times in Langerfeld where they were houseparents in a home for refugees from other countries. In the summer of 1965, I had a call from Erich asking me if we could have Kathleen stay with us for a month as she was completely stressed out and in bad shape.
This visit meant a lot to me, and she told me her whole life story during her four-week stay. I always kept our talks confidential but shared some details with her children during the last years. I met her once more in Darvell at Easter, 1986, together with her sister Maureen. I had tea with them and she seemed happy, but we never mentioned our time together in Oosterwolde in 1965.
I have just talked with Jean about what to share in this letter and will only share what is relevant to the character of Kathleen.
In sum, Kathleen was a very humble sister, so much so that she accepted many things without really understanding why this was happening to her. "The Brotherhood knows, so I will try and understand!" was her way of solving problems. She also had a warm heart for every human or animal in need. That is why it is so difficult to understand that our aged mothers agree to this horrible new Bruderhof rule: that they do not want contact with their children outside in their hour of sickness and death.
Kathleen was a very intelligent and bright person. She translated the most difficult writings from the forefathers of the Hutterite Communities into wonderful English: Peter Riedeman's Confession of Faith, Eberhard Arnold's Inner Life and many writings by theologians such as Dietrich Bonhöffer, Leonard Ragaz, Romano Guardini, Kierkegaard, and many others. She also translated many of the Gemeindstunden the Servants held. That meant she would sit in the little hut of Georg or Hans Meier for hours on end and write down what they wanted to say in German at the meeting, so that the English translator could just read it from a paper.
She was so devoted to the work in school and the translations that the reality of having six children, living on almost nothing, food-wise, sometimes hit her with a great shock. She told me that once that she was sitting in Georg's office, writing down everything he dictated to her, when she realized that her labor pains had started and she needed to go to the delivery (mother) house. She finished this one letter (or whatever it was) and then said to Georg, "I think we will have to stop here as my baby is announcing itself." Georg looked at her in sheer amazement and said, "Kathleen are you pregnant? I didn't know that!" We had a good laugh about that. She also told me that her mind was so full of all the wonderful Hutterian writings that she fully accepted the woman's place as being inferior to the man and that it was actually an honor if a man asked you to marry him.
The Cotswold and Primavera years were happy years for her and her family despite difficulties that we all had to deal with. Then came the "Big Crisis of 1960". No one in Primavera understood what was going on, but everyone wanted to be loyal to the Gemeinde and just accepted that Primavera was to be dissolved and families sent away or to another community. The Hasenbergs left for the Sinntal -Bruderhof with the few personal belongings people were allowed to take. Erich had a slipped disc (actually two) and was taken to hospital for an operation. Somehow he was excluded while away, and it was not clear who would pay the bill for such an operation in Germany; he certainly did not have any private funds.
Kathleen and the children were sent to Bulstrode while Erich was in some faraway hospital waiting for his operation in Bäd Kissingen. From Bulstrode, Kathleen, now with 3 children, was sent to Wheathill and, after a while, they were told that they would move back to the Sinntal Bruderhof. But alas, they only had tickets as far as Frankfurt, where they stood with their few belongings not knowing what to do or what to think! Finally they managed to go as far as Schlüchtern, where they were picked up by a brother from the Sinntal Bruderhof. To their amazement, they drove right past the Sinntal Bruderhof: The children yelled, "We are here! Stop the car!" But the driver said that he had orders to take them to a little place called Ebenhausen, where the community had rented two rooms above a pub for them. Kathleen told me how incredible all this was to understand, to be separated from Erich and three of her children in such a small place in Germany without any financial or social help.
Erich had his operation and they finally moved to Tierberg and later found the job as houseparent in the home. Indeed it is difficult to understand why people want to return to the Bruderhof after all this.
In Kathleen I have lost a person I highly respected from the time I was a child. I know she suffered in many ways, but also found happiness in the life she had chosen and in getting old with people she had shared so much in life. And, of course, in being with her two daughters, Irene and Maureen, and their children during the last years of her life.
Let us try and respect what decisions our parents have made in life,
even if we do not always understand them.
1963, First Meeting of Bruderhof Graduates!
Pauline Ellison & Linda Lord Jackson, 8/14/00: The first ever get-together of ex-Bruderhof people took place on Easter, 1963 in Shrewsbury at the Youth Hostel, as shown in the photo below, and at Jack and Annie Elision's House.
There were about forty people there, including: Jack & Annie Ellison; Pauline, Dot, Matthew, Frieda, Philip, Monica & Ruthie Ellison; Linda, Anthony & Aendel Lord; Joy & Susan Johnson; Bobby, Barty & Johanna Patrick; Colin & Hansi Chatterton; Gareth, Christoval & Sammy Wright; Daphnie & Roger Rimes; Klaus & Dieter Holz; Ian, Phlegon & Rhoda Cocksedge; Michael Caine, Raphael Davies, Philip Few (William Wiegand), John Holland, Kenneth Jones, John Jory, Heiner Kopschach, Lillian Marchant, Veronica Summner, Killian Zumpe. Some Welhams & Dorrells had also intended coming, but did not manage it in the end.
|During the weekend,
we visited Wheathill before it was even sold. On the Sunday we were joined
at the Ellisons' house by several more of our ex-Bruderhof friends on their
motor bikes, as seen in the picture outside the Ellisons.
At that point we were all still struggling to adjust to the outside world and missing our friends that we had grown up with. Renewing old friendships and getting to know others we only knew by name was a very happy experience, and many of us have been able to keep in touch ever since.
Those of us who came to this gathering were all children of the Bruderhof who had never actually become members, although many had not left the Bruderhof by choice, but some may have returned later.
German, Alfred & Ruth Pleil, 8/2/00: We are now back in Canada. My son Alfred and I were the only ones from Canada at the Europe gathering at Fulda, Germany. It was the first time for me to be at such an event. I call it 'friends circle reunion' that is what it was. Such a grand experience to meet so may old friends and make so many new friends! Sometimes it was hard for me to recognize them after 29 years and some even longer. I would not say they got older. No, they only 'advanced in years.' They all had a young spirit. Some even behaved like teenagers.
I myself felt in my twenties. I think I was with the most advanced in years under them, with my 70th. I met a lot with whom I was acquainted only by names or I knew their parents. It was a joy to get to know them. My circle of friends grew so much and the joy was so tremendous and incredible. It amazed me how free and happy everyone was, after what every individual had to go through in the past. It struck me very much how much I felt in common and unity with all individuals of that group. I nearly managed to have a good conversation with everyone. It was such a joy!
It was only a big shame that Ruth, my wife, was not able to experience this because of her hip trouble. She would have enjoyed it very much. I hope it will be possible next time.
I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for having such a beautiful time. Special thanks to Gottfried Holland who arranged our trip to Frankfort airport and also many thanks to Dieter Holtz and his wife who took us to the airport. Again, many thanks to the people that made it possible to have such a great time! Greetings to all,
7/21/00: The very first thing that comes to mind concerning Inno's report
in the Feb. and July KIT issues, is that it portrays a totally innocent
Palmgrove and points fingers that scream accusations toward the Bruderhof
for all their (Palmgrove's) many troubles. Let me be clear, I do not deny
that there may have been much tribulation in Palmgrove, however there are
always two sides to the story. All ugliness about the Palmgrove crisis
cannot be placed on the Bruderhof alone, as much as we dislike the place.
For one, since most of the report is concerned with the Bruderhof's obsession
with money, let me bring up one very large point. That is that we, at the
Bruderhof, worked extremely hard and diligently at ungodly hours of morning
and night to "raise money for Palmgrove." Houses needed to be built, food
needed to be sent, clothes needed to be made, school supplies and teachers
needed to sent so that the Palmgrove children could have a good education
equivalent to our own. We kids had to get up at 3:30 am about 2-3, sometimes
more, times a week to work in the shop until 7:00 am when we had to leave
to catch the bus for High School. When we returned home, we worked all
afternoon to "raise money for Palmgrove." We had little time to attend
to our studies what with work, school, and meetings, and even less time
for ourselves, although that time was limited enough.
These 'pushes' went on for the for the good part of two years, slacking off for a month or so, and then continuing again at full force. Thus I have a hard time believing that the Bruderhof used up most of Palmgrove's funds. I worked, no, slaved for the "struggling Palmgrove Community." I am in no way defending the actions of Wardle and Meier for closing a Palmgrove account, if this is what they truly id. Neither am I defending the Bruderhof. I am only making a point.
The next item of question is Woodcrest's "maneuvering four young teenage boys" from Palmgrove to the communes in the States for "preparation for baptism." The baptism part is not in question. The "young teenage boys" is. When Aniekan, Ebong Ebong and Basil arrived in Pleasant View, fresh out of Palmgrove, they were hardly teenagers. The youngest one, if I remember correctly, was Basil, and he looked at least 20-something. But one thing is sure, they were definitely not "young teenagers." Now, whether or not these men were coerced into baptism and marriage, I do not know.
Another point: to complain about Dora going to a girl's college when the money to send her there could have been used to take care of 500 times as many children in primary schools is, to me, irrelevant. Meal times at the Bruderhof were very often eaten while listening to reports from various brothers and sisters who had been sent to Palmgrove. One sister's letters were read more often than others. She was sent to teach the children of Palmgrove. We saw pictures of the school house, the children, and were read great accounts of how well the children were doing in school, among other things. I do not remember exact details, but my point is that the education of the Palmgrove children was not neglected. Dora was in high school and, as customary in the Bruderhof, was sent to a public school. That Palmgrove funds were used for this I don't know, but I would doubt it.
It is quite possible that I was led to believe differently from what really went on at Palmgrove. The Commune has a way of letting one know only what it wants one to know. But, being in ausschluss a lot of the time, was not partial to any information other than the reports I heard at meal times on the money raised, and the progress in Palmgrove. There were even celebrations when we reached a certain goal.
Although I could not possibly know what really happened with the financial situation, the fact is that we did raise a lot of money for Palmgrove. Hours upon hours of work were demanded of us, and I would like to think that the money did go to Palmgrove. Of course if it did not, the Bruderhof once again made fools of all of us at the commune.
David E. Ostrom, 7/16/00: Regarding Palmgrove, the information provided by Woodcrest, the information provided by the Hutterites and the information provided by Inno was significantly different. There were some "agreed upon" differences between Inno and the Hutts, but the variance between the Inno/Hutts information and that of the Bruderhof(tm) was like being in Santa Rosa, El Slavador and being told one was in the heart of Santa Rosa California.
Where did the Palmgrove money come from? Woodcrest? If you believe the Broodies, the answer is an unqualified yes! But for me, the question becomes how much was Bruderhof money, how much Hutterite, and how much donated otherwise.
I have a piece of medical lab equipment (I used to be a biomedical engineer, consulting, providing equipment and service to third world countries) which if new would cost about $750.000. The fair used price would be about $250,000. I offered to overhaul that equipment, certify it and donate the equipment to Palmgrove, if the Broodies would split the cost of the overhaul.
Christian came back with the answer, "No way!" I would have to overhaul and certify it, donate and ship it free of charge to the Bruderhof(tm). Christian Domer's communications with me led me to beleive that I would receive no credit for this, the Bruderhof(tm) would receive the full tax benefit. Neat right? But I didn't fall for that. There were also autoclaves, sphygmometers, stethoscopes, exam lights, hemostats and retractors, amongst other things offered by me, but the same conditions were demanded by Christian Domer!
There have been efforts to track the finances of the Palmgrove support. At least Inno and associates left an auditable paper trail. It would be interesting to get an independent audit of the BC of NY Inc. books along with all the not-for-profits, associations, organizations, "wholly owned" "privately held" corporations and accounts held and controlled by Society of Brothers under all of the Hutterite/Hutterian aliases used by the Bruderhof(tm) and other "holdings" the group has. It would take a small book to list and itemize the convoluted trails and connections to and of these accounts and holdings. A CPA once looked at the public information available on the entire set up and estimated that it would take a company like Arthur Anderson's entire staff working two years just to get an idea of what was going on. Also, it would be an interesting starting point to know how much "friends" of the Bruderhof(tm) donated.
I have spent part of four years trying to trace a discrepancy of between 1.7 and 3.8 million dollars earmarked for "Palmgrove." I traced it as far as Darvell and a source in the U.K. tracked an equivalent sum from Darvell to Woodcrest in this same time frame. The trail goes cold between Woodcrest and Darvell; but apparently never did make it to Palmgrove.
Now to us, that sounds like a lot of money. To the invisible advisor crew of Domers, Kiederlings, and some others, that is pocket change. They are looking at, by my estimation based on the public information available (as I interpret it), a total income well in excess of $100,000,000 per year for many years! I'm sure a lot of the financing at the time also came from Western Hutterites. I've heard somewhere (and I'm not sure what the source was, and therefore cannot vouch for the reliability) that much of the money raised through fundraising efforts went into buying the first jet.
|There is quite a bit
of correspondence I did not include when I transcribed Inno's manuscript.
Much of it deals with this dubious financing. The crux of the issue was
that Inno had set up a church, "The Hutterian Brethren of Nigeria." Woodcrest
was livid; they had intended to, and in fact set up a church, "The Hutterian
Brethren in Nigeria." The key wording is the difference between, "of" and,
"in". This makes all the difference in the world. Was the church to be,
as Inno and the Hutterites understood, Nigerian, or, was it to be
an extension of Woodcrest's enterprises? There are all sorts of legal and
financial ramifications. Bottom line, Woodcrest apparently had no intention
of working with the Hutterites in assisting Palmgrove to become a Hutterian
colony. Woodcrest saw an opportunity to expand their own enterprises by
exploiting the Nigerians. True, I have some reservations about Inno's accuracy,
but I believe, from the data available Inno was true to his culture, whereas
Woodcrest was true to corporate greed and exploitation! Sincerely,
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Lee Maria Kleiss, 7/26/00: Like Tim Johnson I spent some time in Nigeria, starting the science department at Egbado College, Ilaro, near Abeokuta, 1954-56. I too felt that starting Palmgrove was a disaster in the making. I joined the Bruderhof in Primavera and experienced sufficiently their inability to acculturate to another culture. Locals did not join because the Bruderhof remained 80% German culture and the remaining 20% was European culture, even though we had seventeen nations represented at the best time. When they couldn't control Primavera, Wheathill, or Bulstrode the leadership disbanded the brotherhood and had their own controlling meetings. When there was a strong natural leader, as Inno seems to be, they found some excuses to put him in Ausschluss. That's all been done before.
We expellees and escapees are all innocent and naive concerning the use of money by the community. Even though they are more than self-supporting through Community Playthings, they have from the beginning begged for money for any imaginable cause the hospital in Primavera, even after the hospital was closed. etc.; for support for anti-death penalty in cooperation with another group that never received this funding. It is clear to us now that simple brotherhood members had no idea where money was coming from and how it was used. There has never been an auditing system. If the money was raised to support Palmgrove, why shouldn't it remain with Palmgrove? I find it great that Inno managed to have it frozen.
Is the word 'teenage' perhaps a cultural mistranslation? Did Inno try to convey they were inexperienced young people? At college, all the students were supposed to be 18 or younger. I was in charge of the senior class. Most were in their 20's, having falsified their ages to get into the college. I have always said that even if I had a chance to teach at Harvard, I'd never have a class as brilliant as that. Some 25 students were chosen each year from some 1000 applicants. Greetings,
by The Rev. Inno Idiong
[portions were excerpted in the February and July, 2000, KIT newsletters]
Note To The Reader: For four years I have with reluctant and heavy heart withheld from publishing this already completed book, due to various interests and people within and outside the Bruderhof.
My obligation to those still in the Bruderhof outweighed my obligation to those liberated and freed from the stronghold and dehumanizing atmosphere prevailing within the Bruderhof. But, now that the Bruderhof is still spitting consumable fire against Palmgrove brothers married to Bruderhof sisters, I have no alternative but to publish. To share our side of the struggles and experiences with others who wish to know what happened between Palmgrove and the Bruderhof, or who wish to become missionaries in a nation or culture other than their own.
My people and I will never regret our separation from the Bruderhof, we consider it a divine separation and we remain grateful to the Lord.
We are praying that those trapped behind the Bruderhof spiritual gates would receive their deliverance and one day walk into their freedom. For those who would feel that this experience should not be retold for obvious reasons, please forgive me.
Finally, every reader is entitled to their own personal opinion and judgment. Sincerely speaking I appreciated the Hutterian Brethren East's (Bruderhof(tm)) positive influence in Palmgrove, but, I could not condone their negativity in Palmgrove for posterity reasons. Once again, the aim of this book is in no way to attack the Bruderhof; but a chance to be heard and to make others see the other side of the coin. Thanks a lot, Yours, signed Inno Idiong
Personality Profile of Inno Idiong
by Ruthie Decker
Rhetoric Essay 095 December 12, 1999
Inno Idiong is the founder of Palmgrove Community in Nigeria, Africa. The first time I saw Inno, he was handsomely dressed in a white shirt, black vest, dark pants, and dressy shoes. His stance was one of selfconfidence; energy sparked in the air around him; he seemed ready for action. A slight smile was playing on his lips, and his eyes sparkled with a sense of peace that seemed to radiate from within. As I got to know him, I saw that his eyes flickered with a deep understanding of human nature, a discerning realization that human nature is powerful enough to bring itself to destruction in the process of unsettled wanderings in pleasure. When I looked into his eyes he seemed to see right through me. I noticed that Inno is an amazingly knowledgeable person. His comprehensive outlook on life has proven that he is in no way narrowminded.
Inno Idiong was born in Africa to the family of Chief Anthony and Ma Rita Idiong. Inno's parents were married in 1954. Ma Rita was Chief Anthony's first wife. During their first twenty-five years of marriage, Inno's dad married three more wives. When I ask Inno, "What did your mom say about that?" He replies calmly, "My mom did not have any voice in the matter. My dad's excuse was always the same, 'I come from a polygamous background my grandfather had twenty-seven wives and forty-seven children'."
Inno was the third son in a family of four boys. As Inno contemplates his childhood, in a soft voice he tells me, "My dad did things that you could not imagine. He was not a good father. He never told me that he loved me. All he ever showed me was anger and strife. I grew up a disappointed child, a child that never knew peace and love, a child that never even knew the difference between love and hate, a child that witnessed many times his father abusing his mother." Even though these were sad memories, the expression on his face as he shared his childhood experience was one of peace.
Inno struggled all through primary school. In 1974, he graduated without any kind of support from his father. In 1975, he began his high school education. He maintained first place in his class and was awarded a fiveyear scholarship. This scholarship gave him the chance to study without assistance from either of his parents.
In 1978, Inno graduated from high school and gained admission into the University of Uyo in Nigeria, Africa. Inno wanted to study law, but his mom wanted him to be a Catholic priest. While the scuffle between mom and child went on, Inno missed the deadline for admission to law school. So he took on studying sociology rather than giving in to his mother's wishes.
He graduated from the University of Uyo in 1986. In 1987, he gave his life to Jesus Christ, started a new life, and forgave his father. Due to God opening his eyes to the magnitude of disease, enormity of crime, and scourge of poverty that "sandwiched" his people, Inno was motivated towards community development. With a note of persistence in his voice, he says, "I vowed to work hard to elevate the situation of my people and to restore confidence and sanity to make a better society."
|Consequently, Inno started a Christian
organization called Rural Christian Fellowship International (RCFI). This
was a visionary project to coordinate wayward youth who had nothing to
do. The program was based on Christian principles, values, and norms, with
a main objective of teaching the youth to support themselves when out of
the program. It was also set up to teach the youths respect for constituted
In 1989, the RCFI broadened its scope and outreach; it metamorphosed into a Christian community. In the beginning, 15 people lived together caring and sharing. They based their way of life on the teachings of Jesus Christ, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," Matt 22:39, and the Christian beliefs from Acts of the Apostles, "And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." Act 2: 4445.
That same year, Inno started corresponding with the Hutterites in the United States and Manitoba, Canada. Hutterites also live their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ with Acts 2:4445 as part of their life. In July 1990, he paid a visit to a Hutterite Colony in Manitoba, Canada with one of his brothers. They spent six weeks in Crystal Springs. They loved what they saw and were amazed to see that such a community had been in practice here already for such a long time. Before Inno and his brother went to Canada, they had the concept, but there they saw it in reality. After eight weeks, they went back to Nigeria, and established a community similar to what they saw in Canada.
Today, the Palmgrove Community has grown into an amazing size. Over four-hundred people live together and another two-hundred depend on the community for their livelihood. Under Inno's leadership the community has been able to establish a nursery school, a primary and high school. The three schools have an overall population of six-hundred students.
The community also has constructed a pig barn, a chicken barn, a fish farm, a tile factory and a multi-skills center for carpentry, auto repair and welding.
Water and electrification projects for the neighboring villages is under way as well as small-scale factories to produce soap, bottled water and ram flour. With all these enterprises, Palmgrove is helping to strengthen the Nigerian economy and also improving the living standards of the people by creating jobs.
Palmgrove is expected to employ not less than three-hundred people in the near future. Inno is also a consultant for the United Nations Development Program on Community Development in Nigeria; he has helped the UNDP to establish two Pilot Community Programs for training that enhances participatory and sustainable living. Inno has won many national and international awards for his work in Community Development including the national "Best Practice Award" from his country Nigeria and a Ph.D. degree in the humanities.
Inno has had many positive and difficult experiences. In a recent heart-wrenching experience in Palmgrove, he says, "This woman and her husband have seven children. Because the husband was kicked out of his job, they couldn't feed their children. He couldn't stand his children's crying for food so he left. Then, someone directed the woman with her seven children to me. On the way to Palmgrove, two of her children died. When the five children that were left and their mom came to Palmgrove, the children were starved, all that was left was skin and bones. Their bodies were full of rashes. Three of the children were unable to walk. I looked at them and I could not contain my tears. To help them in their plight, we gave them food, clothing, and money and took them back to their village. We also helped them set up a small business making and selling coconut oil. When the woman's husband heard that they were receiving help he came back to his family." When Inno tells me this story, I can sense the compassion deep in his voice. I get the impression he'll do anything within his reach to help each individual that comes his way.
Because the gracious mercy of our God's revelation, and the teachings of Jesus practiced in Palmgrove, we know that His words are still true today. Inno reflects these values in his own words, "I know I could never have achieved anything without God's support and love for me. I know he loves other people too; that's why he gives me the opportunity to serve them. I am only His tool for His mercy and compassion for the poor. He can use me any way he likes. The Lord supplies and I pass it on." He continues, "All my work entails struggles and sacrifices, but then, it's very rewarding when I see someone who survived, who would have passed away as a result of poverty being liberated." In his words I feel a genuineness and truth, and I sense that he takes each step of selfsacrifice for the sake of Christ.
Inno is an amazing person. His life has been full of challenges, and
that is probably the reason why he understands human nature so well. A
strong character emerged as life sent struggles his way, a character of
faith in God. Although he is confident, he is not proud or boastful when
he tells me about himself. When I asked him to write an essay about himself,
he tried to avoid me by telling me to interview my dad. I did not give
up on him. As our interview went on I found out what a dear Christian brother
he is to all who are open to listening to a heart that is so led by God.
Whether pondering or sharing I can see that he does all with a sense of
not being alone, that there is Someone Higher than he is Who is helping
him. Because he knows this, he is not afraid to take as a challenge anything
that life throws at him.
Joseph Idiong, 7/5/00: Dear Ramon, and all the loving people of KIT, my trip to Australia was a very memorable one. It was a chance in a lifetime and I am very glad I did not let the opportunity pass by.
We left Philadelphia on the 1st of June and arrived in Crains, Australia, on the night of the 2nd after an exhausting flight which, according to some of us who kept track of time, was twenty-six hours. My group consisted of twenty members, with me as the only male. Our interest focused on the social issues in Australia with regard to the aboriginals.
We visited over thirty government and nongovernment agencies including recreational facilities that deal directly with aboriginal issues in little less than two weeks, so it was like a break for me when I was given a day off from the group to meet with Alex McLeay.
When we arrived Crains, I had called Alex and found out that he was in South Wales while I was in Queensland, a distance of over 2000 km. It sounded like we would not be able to meet, but to my relief Alex asked me where our next destination would be after Crains. When I told him that it would be Brisbane, he told me that Brisbane was a distance of 6 hours from his home and that we would be able to meet because he had business in Lismore, a town of about 3 hours from Brisbane
When the big day arrived, Alex showed up and I was very happy to meet with him. Alex is a wonderful man and very kind He spent the whole day with me and gave me a tour of NSW which made me the only member of the group to visit NSW because our studies were centered around Queensland.
It was wonderful to talk with Alex about his concerns with the Bruderhof. We saw ourselves as two victims of the Bruderhof power of money. Alex stands to lose his future right as a farmer, while I stand to lose my right as a father from the Bruderhof
It is amazing to see how fate can bring two people from different backgrounds and culture together. Alex wants to leave a legacy for his kids and this will not be possible if the Bruderhof is allowed to settle in that community. It is not like the Bruderhof is going to Australia to preach the gospel to the people for the people's benefit, and they are not going there to sell the Community Playthings or their handicap equipment which, according to the Bruderhof, is too expensive for the Australian market. This therefore leaves a big question mark on their intentions in Australia.
All the expenses I incurred that day were on Alex and he took me to a macadamia-processing factory where we bought nuts for me to take back to my friends in Brisbane at the end of the day the only thing I could offer him was my prayers and to remind him that the Bruderhof never give up, that they only gave up Palmgrove because of Nigerian law systems, but in his own case the Australian system is similar to the U.S. system, which so far is in favor of the Bruderhof manipulations.
I told him about this because I remembered that Andrea Meiers once told me that the Bruderhof never leave any stone unturned whenever they want to move to or from a place. We can see this when they sold off their communities in Paraguay, Germany, and recently in Connecticut. This revealed to me that the Bruderhof do not only break up families but also people's businesses and means of livelihood, just to satisfy their greed .
Though it was raining from the moment Alex showed up to pick me until he dropped me off, it was wonderful to spend the day with him and I hope to do it again one day.
By the time I woke up on the morning of 6/11/00, it was already raining, and by the time I finished my morning rites it was almost 9:00 am. I went to the front of the hotel where we were staying to wait for Alex. When I got there, the receptionist told me that Alex had called to say that he will be running late because of the weather, so I decided to have a cup of coffee while waiting At about 10 am he came to where I was sitting and introduced himself. Before this, I had gone to the men's room and while I
was coming out I passed a man coming in and we said 'good morning' to each other without recognising each other. When he come out, he walked straight to where I was sitting with the other members of my group and offered me a handshake. His identifying me I think was due to the fact that I had told him over the phone that I will be the only black man in a group of women. When we walked past each other, he was not sure if I was the one he was looking for until he saw me sitting with the group.
After initial introductions, he told me that he intended to take me on a ride to New South Wales so that we could talk while he took care of other business. I went to my group leader and got her permission to go with him. This made me the only member of the group to visit New South Wale, another state in Australia but it shares a boundary with Queensland.
|We left Brisbane and
headed south on the Pacific Highway under the rain, towards a town called
Gold Coast. From Gold Coast we arrived at another town called Tweeds Head.
Tweeds Head is the border town between Queensland and New South Wales,
therefore it is a very beautiful, busy town, full of tourist attractions.
We passed a lot of Macademia plantations, a plant that is said to be native
to New South Wales.
After Tweeds Head, we continued heading south. Alex told me that be grew up in the Tweeds Heads area in a town called Etallina, with a population of about 25 thousand people. At Ballina we stopped at a Kentucky Fried Chicken and bought lunch, then went to a beach with a beautiful ocean view to eat while watching the waves.
After lunch we headed for Lismore, where Alex had some business to take care of. In Lismore, Alex introduced me to some of his associates, showed me the place where he and his family lived before they moved to their present home at Inverell, which is about three hours drive from Lismore. One of the guys I met was Bruce, a retired school teacher now a farmer who is taking care of Alex's Lismore property. He told me that any plant that sheds its leaves in the Australian winter is an imported plant, because basically all Australian trees remain green all year round. From this conversation I saw the similarity between the trees in Australia and Nigeria. This is because of the type of rainfall both countries have. I also saw a lot of trees that we have in Nigeria.
Alex is one of the nicest person I have so far met in my life. To be able to meet with me and return to his home, he had to drive twenty-four hours non-stop in his wife's truck. When I asked him his interest in me and what he hopes to get out of his meeting with me concerning the Bruderhof issue, he said that his interest was in trying to protect his farming business, his rights and his children's rights to continue farming after him if they so wish. The Bruderhof's coming to put a community of 400 people in the little town of Inverell will kill that dream in the years to come. Seeing what I saw, that is, the fact that Inverell and the surrounding area is entirely agricultural, I could not help but see where he was coming from.
I believe that if the Bruderhof is allowed to settled in this part of Australia, the Bruderhof will do more damage than good to the people of this town in the future. My reasoning is based on the fact that they (the Bruderhof) are not farmers and this is purely an agricultural community. Already as I heard the farmer they bought land from had crops, sheep and cattle. So far Bruderhof have gotten rid of the sheep because they saw that they cannot make a profit from keeping sheep. To my layman's understanding, and based on how they operate on two faces, they will get rid of the original farm set-up and then will set up a Community Playthings factory. This will not be good for farming, and the farmers who happen to live around them. So the question I kept asking Alex the whole day was why did they decide to move to Australia? Because I would hate history to repeat itself. From my experience with them and what happened in Palmgrove I cannot see the Bruderhof moving to Australia with genuine intentions. Why are they leaving the USA when they are closing communities like Deerspring. Anyway, my problem with the Bruderhof is personal, so I told Alex he should not have the Bruderhof within 1000 feet of his property if he can avoid it.
Alex took me a macadamia nut processing factory and bought me some nuts for my group. He wanted to show me some beautiful sights, but it was raining like cats and dogs.
On our way back we stopped at Byron Bay, one of Australia's top surfing areas that is featured in most surfing magazines. Alex told me that there use to be a whaling station in Byron Bay. We then drove towards Brisbane where we saw the Olympic torch on its way around Australia in the rains, and arrived back at my hotel about 7 pm. I had to meet my group where we were dining at Mt. Coot-tha, a very beautiful mountain top where one can see the whole Brisbane. Australia is a very beautiful country, compared to the countries I have been to, including the USA.
Alex then had to drive six hours back home after dropping me off. He
is a real good man, and I pray to God that he will succeed in his fight
against the power of the Bruderhof, which is trying engulf him. They even
are trying to buy him off his property which he only has had for the past
five or so years. After dinner we went to the performing art theatre whom
we watched the aborigines perform their cultural story- telling dances.
We finally got back to the hotel about 12:30 am and after a hot shower,
I went to bed. All in all, an amazing day!
Augusto Pleil, 8/26/00: In the Bible it says, " If someone asks you for your jacket then give him your coat as well." "Have no enemies, love your enemies and do good to them."
When I quoted to a commune member about the jacket, this member said, " Oh , we cannot go on doing that forever." About love your enemies and do good to them, I ask why does the commune have enemies, if they do as the Bible commands, and they profess to do so, then they should not need to make or have enemies!
From their actions today we see that the commune is not, non-violent anymore. They instigate lawsuits, that is one way they retaliate. They do not let relatives visit their loved ones. The commune calls the Police if one of the X-members does dare to visit.
The commune has gone far astray from the vow of poverty and from the fact that the Police should not be called in, and lawsuits against others were absolutely taboo!
|"I Sang In My Chains"
by Hannah Goodwin
Of 'cherries ripe or strawberries red ful-didee' down the road to Cleeton Court, turn left to Silvington and then left back up past the chickenhouse across to the double slide and swing set, there was a chickenwire run for captured hedgehogs; there was a goldfish pond in the school garden and a horse corral at the top of the next meadow. Even the newly equipped kitchen and heavy-duty laundry machines were perishing wares.
The roads on which I may yet find my way past the old farms belong to the Clee Hills. I thought the rows of onions and feathery carrot tops, the red and black currant bushes and so much more would be perpetuated in the lower garden as long as I could know. Grape vines under the glass roof needed extra care. I will always admire the camaraderie that planted and harvested and managed to produce milk, eggs, wool, and set up a welding shop for Bromdon Products.
The fern-covered Roman bridge has been there and, fern or no fern or foxglove, probably still will be there long after whatever I remember. What I like best about the Italians is the five-line-written music codes they came up with in the millennium after the Romans had left England and road-building. The Germans wrote music I like, and in English I learned to sing and write this strawberry fields forever.
Sam Arnold, 8/31/00: For the past three months I have been working on a songbook of rounds that I am publishing myself. The title is Rounds For All. At first I thought that twenty-five rounds would do, but the final total somehow ended up at fifty-six!
The rounds are all German ones, which have been translated into English
as well. Many of them would be familiar to former Bruderhof singers. I
have included five of Wolfgang Loewenthal's rounds, which he has graciously
offered to be included, as well as two of my own. What is unique about
this book of rounds is that they can be sung and also played on a variety
of instruments. There will eventually be five books, each transposed to
different keys, to allow for any combination of voices and instruments
to play together. However, the instrumental books do not contain the lyrics.
The price of the vocal book is $12 (Canadian), while the instrumental books
are $10. Add $2.00 for shipping. The books can be ordered directly from
me. Remember, to stay healthy one needs to sing daily! (At least this much
the Bruderhof has done right.) Sam Arnold · 110 College Street ·
Woodstock, N.B. · E7M 1K6 · Canada
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