Kacey: Ready? To get started. So I’m going to, I’m going to slowly fade out the music going to, ah, I can see both Tamara and Erica. So let me, right, this is my first time. I’m going to, I’m going to bring people in slowly. There’s Erica, there’s Tamara, and I think I can do this. Yeah, it changes the screen and we’re all together.
Oh my goodness. Hello, Erica. How are you today?
Erika Bornman: I’m so well, Casey. And it’s so nice to see your gorgeous face. And I’ve got Matilda with me, but I’m just gonna wave her tail because she’s shy. And, yeah, so apologies for the bad lighting. I’ve got an electricity blackout.
Kacey: Oh, so for anybody that’s not aware of this, in, in parts of South Africa, you have, you have, um, organized blackouts.
Erika Bornman: All of South Africa. Yeah, sometimes up to 10 hours a day.
Kacey: Yeah. Oh my goodness. 10 hours a day. So you have to hope that you have a device with good battery life.
Erika Bornman: Yeah. So, so I’m sorted for this evening. I hope.
Kacey: Oh, good. Good. Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed. I mean, it’s not a stream without technical issues.
Hello Tamara. Thank you so much for being here.
Dr. Tamara MC: Hi. It’s so wonderful to be here. Can you hear me through my mic?
Kacey: Oh yeah. You sound great and you look great as well. How are you today?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yeah, I’m doing so good, and it’s so nice to meet you, Erica, as well. I know we’ve only corresponded over email.
Kacey: Oh, have we lost you, Erica? Have you gone?
Erika Bornman: I can’t hear Tamara or you.
Kacey: Oh, well, we can hear you. Should I put it in the chat? We can hear you. So, here’s our first technical issues of the night, people. So, Casey Get this out of the way.
Erika Bornman: So, Casey, I can hear you, but I can’t hear Tamara. I don’t know if Tamara can hear me.
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, I can hear you, but I wonder if the Audience can hear me if you can’t hear me.
Kacey: Right. Can we get some information in the chat
about our audio? Here we go. I gave 15 minutes either side. Oh, everyone can hear everybody. So it’s just Erica can’t hear Tamara. Maybe, um, If we can’t, if we can’t, um, I’m trying to think of how we could do this. Is there, um, another device that you can open up, Erica, that you can listen to? It might be on a bit of a delay, but perhaps that’s a way we can, um, we can get every, everybody’s, I mean, I could relay the messages to you like an interpreter, but I think that might take away some of the, um, the reactions that you’ll both have to each other’s experiences and things that, um, are often.
Some of the most, uh, moving parts of, of these types of panels and conversations.
Erika Bornman: You know what, I’m going to try go into the restream on my phone. And if it goes, then I will close my. Browser on my laptop. Um, yep.
Kacey: So I will do an introduction with Tamara whilst we See if Erica can tinkle about with some things This seems to work.
Erika Bornman: Yeah. Hello. Can you hear me? Perfect. Can you hear Tamara?
Dr. Tamara MC: Can you hear me as well, Erica? Okay, great. Yay!
Kacey: Oh, okay. Okay, right. So, fantastic. We have confirmation for it. Thank you everybody in the chat and also to my partner downstairs who’s texted me to say yes we can hear you, Casey. You can probably hear me now.
from up here. Right. So, um, sorry about that, everybody in the, in the chat. Let’s get started. So Erica, um, who has been on this show a number of times, we’ve also recently recorded, uh, another talk that hasn’t gone out yet, which I’m looking forward to releasing, uh, in terms of some information that is coming out about Kwasi Zibuntu at the moment.
Could you please introduce yourself to the listeners?
Erika Bornman: Yes. Hello, dear listeners. Um, sorry. It’s always South Africa bringing the technical difficulties. Remember that first live stream you did Casey. Um, so I am a survivor of an evangelical cult called Kwasi Zapantu in South Africa. I, um, was there, um, not by choice, but because I was a child and I ran away at the age of 21.
And I have for the past, 23 years been trying to make the world aware of what goes on there, particularly because my heart really is with the children that are trapped there. Um, and, um, have had some progress in the last three years with that. I’ve also written a book called mission of malice, um, which, which details my story and some of the fight.
Um, and yeah, And it’s just amazing to be part of, yeah, that’s me when I was around, that was around the age I was when my parents joined Questies of Unto. Um, and yeah, I’m just delighted to be here. My mother and my sister and my sister’s three children are still part of Questies of Unto. And so that’s what I’ll be chatting about in this segment.
Kacey: That’s brilliant. Thank you so much for that introduction, Erica. Always so eloquent. Tamara, uh, we recently released our episode on the Cult Vault, so it may be that a few individuals have recently heard of your experience. And a little bit, Colty, your episode with Sarah and Nippy, I believe came out around about this week or last week as well.
So, um, usually what we tend to find is that when individuals are on like a circuit of telling their stories, we all seem to have the same release schedule. So it’s like indoctrination as well. We’re like, Hey, everybody, here’s an interview with tomorrow, which is awesome. Could you please introduce yourself to the listeners?
Dr. Tamara MC: Sure. Thank you so much. Yes. My name is Tamara MC. And yes, my, my episode with a little bit culty just released this week and it’s a two part episode. So the next episode comes out next week. And I grew up in a Sufi cult in Texas and my father joined the cult when I was five years old. And I. Kind of officially left or my body left when I was 20 years old, which is a very similar age to Erica Which I have found to actually be a very similar age for many girls to leave around Very in their beginning 20s not even in their teens So I have found that to be true and in the cult I was married when I was 12 years old and I was married until I was 20 years old and I then left when I Was 20 as I just mentioned And so I also grew up and I still have pretty much all of my family is still a member now, like all of my dad’s family.
So most of my siblings and my father and my stepmother. So they’re still very much part of the community.
Kacey: And it’s my understanding that you joined around about five years of age tomorrow. Is that, is that right?
Dr. Tamara MC: That’s correct. Yes. My father joined at that point. Yes.
Kacey: And Erica, you would not have been too much older than that.
I was around eight years old. So it’s, there’s already some interesting parallels between both of your experiences, even though they happened in different parts of the, of the world. And I remember speaking tomorrow about how strange, almost, it seemed to have such a prevalent Sufi group in Texas, of all places in America.
Um, Erica, would you say it’s typical for Christian? groups and religious practices to be focused on that major religion, or is that something that’s a bit different in South Africa?
Erika Bornman: Um, yeah, I think it’s South Africa. Most of the cults that I know of and I’m aware of are kind of of the Christian variety, various iterations of, um, fundamentalist evangelical Christian.
Um, but, but a lot, I think, also then bring in. spiritualism and that. Um, um, but yeah, I have to say, I know just about nothing about what tomorrow I went through and nothing about that.
Kacey: I think it’s. Also quite interesting to consider the Zulu nation’s impact or influence on KSB’s teachings or at least the justification of certain teachings and beliefs through appropriation of the Zulu nation, which is probably something that that we can talk about as we go on.
Um, I just wondered Tamara, if you would be able to give the listeners an overview of your experiences and how you ended up where you are today, so that we can talk about looking back on loved ones that are still inside these destructive groups.
Dr. Tamara MC: Sure. So I also wanted to say that. My father joined when I was five in 1977, so most of this went on in the late 70s and during the 80s and 90s.
So it was quite a while ago. So things have changed a lot since then. And. After my father joined, the community was very nomadic and was constantly moving. The leader would have visions during the middle of the night that everybody had to pack up and go, and suddenly there would be a caravan and people would have to leave within the middle of the night, leave homes behind, leave children behind, pretty much leave anything that was in that place behind.
And my father ended up leaving me behind as well after he joined when I was six years old, one of these. Caravans began. Actually, I was still five years old. So soon after, and he left and didn’t even know if he would be returning. And those were the words that he told me. So I was already very much abandoned at that age.
He then traveled through the East Coast with the community and they went to many places. Eventually, The community settled in Texas and it was on a least 150 acre farm in the middle of the hill country of Texas. Very isolated. We now had a 2nd leader who took over and the 2nd leader built to this property and it was built very much.
Is a dormitory for men to come and study, but the school didn’t end up working out. So then families moved in. So it wasn’t even a space where children and women were supposed to live. And all of the families were then separated. I lived, my father remarried almost immediately. And I, I had four step siblings, so we all lived in a room and like that was across the courtyard from my father and stepmother and the children.
didn’t live with their parents. We didn’t have a kitchen where we ate together or a living room in that way. They were all communal spaces. At the height of it, there were probably maybe 150 people, but the numbers were always changing. The rules were always changing. So nothing was ever the same, just as I thought that I kind of understood how things function, something else would happen and there would be a whole new system that would be brought into place.
So that’s pretty much it. The property, uh, was probably 30 minutes away by car from the nearest sort of, it wasn’t even a town, but there was a dairy queen like on the highway that was about a 30 minute drive. So there really wasn’t anything. There was no way out. We were behind a gate. Nobody knew what was happening.
The children were homeschooled. And by homeschooled, I mean schooled whenever. A woman chose to school and we were only schooled in religious studies. There, there was not traditional education in terms of mathematics or English, or very sparingly, at least. So I hope that’s a little bit of an introduction.
That’s a huge story. So
Kacey: it is, and it is a huge, I don’t even think, you know, I imagine that after you finished Mission of Malice, Erica, you were still thinking, Oh my God, there’s so much that has not got into this, that I just, and I’ve cut it down already. You’re nodding and agreeing with a lot of stuff that Tamara has, has told us about her experiences.
Does any of this happen to sound familiar to you?
Erika Bornman: Yes, it’s really interesting tomorrow because I, um, with us, uh, children were often separated from their parents as well. My parents actually left the three of us there when I was nine years old for a year. Um, and they went to Europe, uh, to learn French. Um, but the communal eating and the, and the, just the, the breaking of family Bonds.
Um, and I believe that’s quite deliberate. Um, so at quasi Sabantu children and married people are taught that you don’t speak to your parents or your partner first, you go speak to your spiritual counselor, the person that you have to confess all your sins to. So they really insinuate themselves first.
into the family bonds. Um, that, that certainly sounds very familiar to me.
Kacey: The, the changing of, of rules and how things, uh, tend to, to happen seem to be a strong, uh, agreement from you there as well.
Erika Bornman: Yes. So you never really, when you were called in because you’d done something wrong, you couldn’t always, Point to what you’ve done wrong because you’d often only discover it in the meeting.
They would have public meetings where children would be beaten in public for these things that they did wrong.
And the rules would just change all the time. Like you wouldn’t know that you weren’t supposed to look at something in a certain way, uh, but then you discover it. And that would add another rule to your, to your rule book.
Kacey: When you were in your group tomorrow, and you were living in this, uh, this different home. I wondered if you could just talk the listeners through your experience of, of becoming a child bride in terms of, um, how it, how you remember it. Um, and, and how it felt because it, it, it, it dictated your, your life going on for, for the next, um, for the next, uh, number of years and the marriage ceremonies that they have in KwaZulu Bantu are.
not traditional either and, and seem very, um, very strange from the outside looking in.
Dr. Tamara MC: Sure. And yes, and also in our community, There were, there was a time where there was a children’s school and the children’s school was in a completely different state, like, I don’t know, maybe 20 hours drive away. So the kids were always sort of being like completely separated, which kind of sounds a little bit similar to Erica.
And at that point there was no contact with parents. So the children were completely alone with these adults. They couldn’t mail letters. They couldn’t have phone calls. So there were a couple of years where there was no contact with what was going on with the children. So that is also an incredibly common practice within cults is to completely separate family ties and bonds and to isolate children and to keep parents away from them.
So that’s, so that’s incredibly common. In terms of My marriage, I had a very unique marriage that most people have not heard of. It is called a temporary marriage and a temporary marriage is in opposition to what we called a forever marriage, which both of them sound very silly when I say them out loud, but that’s what they were called within the cult.
And a forever marriage is a more traditional ceremony where two people get married and they live in the same house and supposedly they stay together forever. Which of course never happened, but in the temporary marriage, it’s a marriage where there are no witnesses needed and it’s for a temporary amount of time and the man sets the amount of time.
So the marriage can be for an hour, it can be for five days, it can be for three months or 20 years. So the time is really up to the man. When I was 12 years old, the Adopted son of the leader snuck into my room where I was working as a child domestic servant for the leader. I was living in his home with his three wives and I was taking care of his four Children under five years old.
There was a six month old baby at that time. I had just completed seventh grade at that time because I went between my mother and my father’s house. So I was in a public school, during the school year and then I was in the cult about four and a half months of the year with my father. So I had completed seventh grade.
I came to visit my dad and the cult leader told my father that he wanted me to live with him. I was considered the special child, which just meant that I was the obedient child that would pretty much do anything that I was told to do. And so I just followed rules and I was very responsible. They were just qualities that I already had and.
Cult leaders are very good at finding out what people are good at and then using that against them. So, I moved into the house, I was watching the children, and this person snuck into my room in the middle of the night, began raping me, and then within a few days came back and said that He had to marry me because we were part of purity culture and you couldn’t be with someone without marriage.
And so in the middle of the night, it was about midnight. He conducted this temporary marriage, which was in a different language that I didn’t understand. I didn’t even know what was happening, but he said the words that the translation of I marry myself to you for this amount of time. And I had to repeat after him.
And probably within less than 60 seconds, I was married to this person and the marriage would continue for another eight years. We would have multiple marriages because also in this marriage, there is no divorce. You are married and then it just sort of like disappears after the time period is up. So, I was never divorced, but I was probably married at least three dozen times by the time I was 20 years old.
Kacey: Would be the motivation for somebody to Uh, to, to tie you into a temporary marriage, the, the, the change in status, uh, allows through the belief system, um, certain boundaries and, and rules to be lifted.
Dr. Tamara MC: I mean, the only thing it allows is a man to have sexual contact with a woman or a girl. That’s, that’s all. Because in a temporary marriage, the man does not have to support the woman either. And in our community of forever marriage, the man did have to support the woman and give her housing and take care of her.
But in a temporary marriage, they don’t have any sort of responsibility. So this person was not at all involved in my housing or taking care of me in any way.
Kacey: I can’t even begin to imagine how confusing and difficult that would be to navigate as an adult, let alone as a, an extremely vulnerable child. Um, so thank you for, for sharing that piece of information with us tomorrow. Um, how did you go about beginning to understand what, what had happened in, in that experience?
Was it something that you had feelings about at the time thinking something doesn’t seem to be right here or, or were you unable to understand? The, the, the, the gravity of the situation that this person had, had forced you into.
Dr. Tamara MC: Right. So I think there’s so many things that are happening at the time.
First, I’m 12 years old. I’ve never kissed a boy. I’ve never even thought of having a boyfriend. I was not at all a type of girl that was interested in that way. And. It was also a fasting time, so I wasn’t eating at that time, and I wasn’t drinking water, and I was working between 12 to 15 hours a day, so I was being overworked, and just as my workday would end, my workday was between either 10 to, 10 p.
m. to midnight I worked until, and I had to wake up by 4 a. m., so already I was getting about 4 And then this person would sneak into my room as soon as I was able to go to sleep. And then I’d have to be with this person. So I was virtually not getting any sleep. So I was being sleep deprived, food deprived, not having any water and being a child.
So you can only imagine that I wasn’t really thinking about what was happening. I was. surviving. That’s the point where a person is surviving. And so, and I was also disassociating. So it wasn’t until much later that I was able to put together the pieces. But that being said, I feel that regardless Each of us knows deep down inside when something’s not right, and we don’t have the words.
I didn’t have the words. I didn’t have the vocabulary. I couldn’t explain it. But something inside of me said something is terribly, terribly wrong. And that’s the feeling. That all of us need to latch on to because that’s the only true thing because on the outside, it was having this husband telling me, Oops, you just went viral, Erica.
There’s an echo. There’s an echo. There we go. I’ll just mute
Kacey: Erica’s microphone for a second. I think there’s, there we go.
Dr. Tamara MC: Can you turn your camera?
Kacey: You flipped, Erica. You flipped on your side. You flipped on your side.
No, it’s still flipped. It just kind of took, oh, now you’re upside down. Oh, now you’re back to the side.
Should we? Okay.
Should we turn? Oh, now you’re upside down again. Yeah.
I don’t know why you’re just like this way and instead of this way. I don’t know how to fix it. Um, maybe you might need to pop out and come back in again.
Dr. Tamara MC: Maybe pop out and come back in.
Kacey: Sorry, erica. Um, sorry.
Dr. Tamara MC: It feels kind of funny speaking to somebody that’s upside down.
Kacey: Yeah, that happened all of a sudden.
She just kind of went off to the side. Um, so that feeling of recognizing that something is deeply wrong. Might be the only thing that we can really hold on to in those experiences to not lose ourselves completely. What would you say the function would be to really grasp onto to that feeling if you ever have the horrible situation where that occurs?
Dr. Tamara MC: It’s to trust that feeling because like I think I was getting ready to say all the voices around me were telling me first of all in the community I lived in. I was the first child marriage, but there would be. Most of my girlfriends would be married by the age 14. So this was happening all the time. So all around me, I was seeing that girls were getting married early and we were told that that’s what we were supposed to do.
That was how to get closer to God, et cetera, et cetera. I also had a husband that was much more knowledgeable than me and the religion and the practices. So he was also telling me so many things. So, so regardless, there’s all these voices happening on the outside. And all of those voices are generally, oh, that’s perfect.
You’re back. I hope you can hear us. Okay. Good. Good. Um, yeah, let me just think real quick. So it’s just knowing. That deep seated feeling and maybe like, I know that I did the best thing I could do then, which was to survive. And so at that time, often there’s nothing we can do. We have to get married. Like what can a child do?
There’s nothing I could have done. And there’s so many women and children that are in situations and there’s absolutely nothing that they can do at this moment. But that’s okay because they’re actually doing something even though it doesn’t seem that way. So everything is like within ourselves and it’s all that building up and kind of taking that feeling of this is wrong.
And just knowing that like each of us is correct in that feeling and then knowing that one day we’re going to be able to get out of this. And it’s not today, and it may be a year, it may be 10 years, we don’t know how long it’s going to be, but we can still be building ourselves up within, even when our external situations are dire, completely dire.
Kacey: That’s really powerful. That’s, that’s a really powerful sentiment that I think needs to go into the collection of things that people can do to help them heal and recover. Sometimes people come up with things and I’m like, that has to go down somewhere so that it can be in the ether in as many different forms as possible.
Thank you for, for sharing that with us, Tamara. Um, something you missed while you were gone, Erica, was Tamara saying that in the Sufi group that she was a part of, um, or that she was, um, put into, I should really say, um, girls are under pressure to get married early, which I feel is a sentiment that is echoed in, in Kwazii Zibuntu as well.
Perhaps not, um, so young. Um, but there were, well, not as children, but there are definitely some questionable practices at KSB that make me think, um, that children are still being sexually exploited. Um, the, another thing that Tamara said that I feel, um, echoes with your experiences that I wondered if you could talk to us about is Those in positions of power and leadership, recognizing obedience and rule following and, and things like curiosity and being responsible individuals and, and recognizing those traits in people and taking advantage of them.
Erika Bornman: Yeah, absolutely. When Tamara was saying that she was the good girl who was so obedient, well, One of the ways that causes a bunch of gets Children to be that way is by using when I was there by using violence and the threat of violence. So all these public beatings that I witnessed turned me into the most obedient child ever.
Like it. And, and also any adult can parent any child in the compound. So you could get a hiding from any adult. Um, it, it didn’t have to be your parent or your counselor or your teacher. It could just be anybody could see you doing something wrong and give you a beating, you know, so you. I literally feared every single adult and I also feared the other children because we were encouraged to snitch on each other because we were told that if you know of a friend’s sin and you don’t confess their sin, then you are as guilty as them and you are going to go to hell because we fully were indoctrinated that God could confess you at any time.
And if you have one unconfessed sin in your life, you go straight to hell, you know, so lived in fear of hell. We lived in fear of the rapture. We lived in fear of God of people. Like it was just a fearful environment. So that made us very, very compliant in terms of Um, marriage, um, I got my first marriage proposal two years, two days after I wrote my final school exam.
I don’t know where I got the guts, but I said no three times in two years, in less than two years. Um, at least I was allowed to say no, but the pressure is enormous. You know, the pressure that I felt to say yes, I’m just glad that the guys were dweebs and not one of the hot guys, you know, because then I’d be married.
But, um, yeah, the first guy who asked me, I mean, it was such a dweeb. Like, I couldn’t imagine, I really couldn’t imagine that, you know, I, yeah, thank God. Anyway, um,
Kacey: the, the, the beliefs around the marriage proposals is it’s, uh, quite an integral part of the, the way that KSB functions. And that’s why it’s poignant that you said no, whereas most.
Women and young women would have felt pressured into saying yes.
Erika Bornman: My sister said yes to the most vile human being ever. Um, uh, yes. So we are not allowed to talk to boys. Boys and girls are not allowed to talk. Um, if you’re not married to someone, you’re not allowed to be in the, in, in a room with him, unless of course you’re a counselor and then you can be in a room alone with young girls who you’re counseling, you know, but for, for girls, it’s, it’s very strict.
And I mean, Casey, you saw that video from Earlier this month where the preacher was talking to teenage adolescent girls about the way they walk and how they are trying to entice men and make men sin, um, from the pulpit today. So, um, in my case tomorrow, I’m afraid nothing’s changed at that place, except they no longer.
apparently beat Children in public, but everything else, they still believe you have to break the spirit of a child by the age of three. Um, but back to the marriage. So the man has an epiphany from God. Um, and he goes to the leader of the mission and says he feels it’s God’s will to marry Erica. The leader of the mission then comes to me, tells me this, tells me that I’m not allowed to share it with anyone.
So I can’t ask my mother for counsel. I can’t ask anyone for counsel on this. I have to make the decision on my own by myself. Um, and I have to pray about it, but I mean, God had long since stopped talking to me or he never talked to me. So I knew that praying was. It’s stupid for me, you know, because I never got these answers that everybody else said they were getting.
And then I would go back and I would say yes, um, and then we would get engaged in front of the whole church. The pastor would stand between the two and he actually puts the engagement ring on the girl’s finger, which now when I watch it, it’s just so it, um, And then the same happens on the marriage day, and then on the day of marriage, um, is actually the first time these two people are alone, and it’s also the first time they get any sex education whatsoever.
So Kwesi Zabantu actually in 1986 started a school because the government wanted to introduce sex education into public schools in South Africa, and they were like, not our children. So, I mean, I have a friend who, who, who got married there, who told me what the sex education was, and it is really perfunctory.
Two minutes, basically the girl is told, submit whenever he wants it, and he’s told, if you don’t want to get her pregnant, these are the ten days that you ejaculate into a towel that you put next to her. I’m sorry, I’m going to get graphic, but he was also told, at first you might have trouble finding the hole, but don’t worry, you’re going to get it right, eventually.
Um, he wasn’t given any education about lubrication, about turning it on. They were not allowed to kiss anywhere except on the mouth. And, um, so it’s really very restrictive. Interestingly, in the past few years, there’ve been very few marriages because the head of the mission is on his deathbed. Um, Just recently, since I, since my book came out, um, two of my nieces got married last year and the one is getting married, um, I think next week.
So all three of my nieces will now be married off. And I just think I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I just think it’s very significant that with this, there’s hardly any marriages, but suddenly, because I state in my book that I really want to save my nieces, suddenly they’re all three married off.
Kacey: Yeah. That leads us really into talking about the implications of still having loved ones in a, a, a, a cult, an extremist group, uh, an authoritarian group, all number of different little titles that, that people might apply to, to these types of environments. There are situations where, um, marriages take place.
where the individuals have not had a chance to speak to each other. So there could even be a case of somebody marrying an individual who is, um, perhaps has, uh, disabilities or difficulties that you might not know about and you’re then kind of contracted into a situation where you almost become a carer for that individual.
Um, and I, I know that there are situations that are precarious, Erica, but I wondered how much you’d be willing to share with us about the difficulties of finding out information about your nieces and the positions that they are being placed into.
Erika Bornman: Yeah, so when my second niece, she’s the youngest of the three, when, um, I, I heard that she was, um, getting engaged, um, I heard from other people who had left that this man that she was engaged to was severely intellectually disabled, um, and that it is a genetic condition.
And, um, I, I tried, but unfortunately, by law, I couldn’t intervene. Um, and she got married, and I found out just two weeks ago she had their first baby. Um, I don’t know what care they have taken in terms of this, uh, genetic disorder that, that, that he has. Um, but, but, It’s just the hopelessness you feel because she’s now bound, you know, for her to escape is just become so much harder.
My brother is allowed to have contact with them. Um, oh the lights have just come on. Um, and um, he actually had a conversation with them about this, but it was the day before the marriage and I don’t know that she knew that the extent of his disability when she married him. I can’t speak for it. Um, but, but yes, and, and there’s a lot of violence that happens as well.
Um, And of course, a lot of marital rape. Um, you’re marrying a complete stranger. You’re not allowed to get to know them. You know, I’ve spoken to a few survivors now who the one woman is still married. They have something like five or six children. So they’ve both left now and they’re in this marriage and they don’t think that they would have married each other outside of Corsi Savanti, but they don’t really know what to do with this marriage that they’re in and the children that they have.
Kacey: Thank you for sharing that with us, Erica. I know it’s difficult, and I know that you’re in a very highly emotional position right now, um, this week, uh, with the passing of a, of a friend who also managed to escape KSV. So when it comes to quasi Zubontu, there are really like four or five people that have come out to talk about their experiences, um, that I, that I know of, um, And so the loss of one of those voices is, is monumental to the world, um, as well as to, to people that, that know those individuals personally.
Um, so I really, really appreciate you still being here and sharing your experiences with us, Erica, at this time. Um,
Erika Bornman: there’s actually a lot more. Okay. Casey, sorry. In the beginning, they were about. five or six of us, but now our numbers are probably in the 30 40s.
Kacey: Yeah. Yes, yes. I mean, that is, there’s not a lot of good news that comes to us about certain groups, but that is, that is in, in the grand scheme of things, a wonderful number, which is, it’s, that’s just great to hear.
Um, anybody that wants to contribute, who has experienced KSB in either South Africa or Europe, get in touch because we’d love to hear from you. Tamara, with your experiences of being a part of this group, leaving the group, uh, you mentioned physically you left the group, but you, you didn’t separate yourself entirely.
Uh, could you explain to the listeners what you mean by that?
Dr. Tamara MC: Yes, I think it’s a complicated question, but my whole upbringing was the group pretty much and So my childhood my teenage years my young adult years were part of that group So that’s all that I really knew So even though I left physically and I began a new life in a way I was still today struggle 30 years later.
I still have Thoughts that run through my mind. I still have guilt that goes through. There’s still so many things that are still so much part of my identity that was so ingrained so early on that I didn’t have another identity before. That was my only identity. So where is somebody who joins. As an adult, they have an identity to return to somebody such as Erica and myself, we don’t have an identity to return to.
That is our core identity. And there is like a deeper core identity that hopefully we can access later in life. That is just that, like that human will to survive that is within us. But all the trained behavior of who we’ve become and how we think is still there. So it’s still something that I struggle with today.
And when I left, my family was still part of it and they still are today. So when I speak with them, I still hear the same rhetoric that I heard 35, 40 years ago. It’s still in my ear because they haven’t changed. So I can never really separate because They’re still there and they still have those beliefs and there’s still the very, very problematic beliefs that now I so disagree with.
So in that way, I feel that I’m sure it’s, it’s always going to be part of me. I don’t think that I can ever fully separate myself, which is very sad, but it’s also this acknowledgement that, that it’s also okay that this is part of me and I can move beyond it, but I’m going to catch myself at certain times, but it’s that awareness.
It’s so important
Kacey: when you communicate with your family members who are still within this group. Do you have to monitor what you say or do you set boundaries where you say, okay, we can talk, but we’re not, I won’t talk about this and you, you can’t talk about that. Or do you just allow yourself to have them espouse their beliefs to you.
In order to maintain some type of relationship, you’re I know tomorrow is like, give me concise questions and I’m like, I really can’t do that. I’m so sorry tomorrow.
Dr. Tamara MC: No, no. Um, so they are who they are. They’re never going to change. I, I’ve come to this understanding and if they do, maybe there’s a 0. 01 percent chance that, that maybe they’ll change, but I have accepted that they’re not going to change and really the way that they think and the things that they say.
It’s who they are at this point. Like they couldn’t even speak in a different way. They don’t even know how to speak in a different way. So if I choose to be in their lives, I have to accept them like they are. Does that mean that I have to cover up a lot of who I am? Yes, I do. But that’s the choice that I’m making because in other aspects of my life, I can be myself.
And so I’m able to say to myself that if I want to have a relationship with these people, I’m going to listen to them say all of this rubbish that they’ve been saying forever. And I know what’s wrong within me, but I’m not out there to change them. Like that is not who I’m going to change. They’re like, they’re not able to hear.
Like I couldn’t even extend what I thought to them because, because they’re not accepting in any way. So I think it’s just that recognition and just being accepting that these are people that I still love. These still are my family members. and I’m deeply saddened by it, but I also have to live a life that is separate.
And some people go no contact, which is a choice. Everybody can make any choice that works for them. But I still want to have some contact with my family.
Kacey: What are the difficulties of having family members inside a group? When you think about traditional experiences that you have, that you might not get to have with your immediate family and your loved ones?
Dr. Tamara MC: Is that for me? Sorry.
Well, my family didn’t believe in Western education because everybody was homeschooled. I, after I left, I got a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a PhD, and I even have more education than that. But, My family didn’t come to my graduations. I invited them to my PhD ceremony and they weren’t there. And that was really one of the only times that I really wanted them there, but they weren’t there.
And there’s just so many things like my family didn’t believe in birthdays or birthday parties. So I have two boys who are now in their mid twenties, but they never wished my boys, their grandsons. Like a happy birthday or sent them a present. And that’s just like, that’s painful for me because I didn’t have birthdays in my growing up.
But with my boys, I, I gave them huge birthdays. Like that was so important, but it’s just knowing that like they’re just not going to show up. Like they’re just not going to show up in certain ways. And they also show up in really beautiful ways too, that maybe other people can’t show up as well. So it’s just, it’s, it’s both sides of it.
And it’s just, I think it’s just this deep, radical acceptance of like, this is my family. This is how it is. I was born into this. I can’t change it. I can change so many things in my life, but we can’t change other people. And that’s like where it ends. And so the only thing I can do is keep learning and keep being curious and keep questioning systems in my own life.
Kacey: Erica, in terms of your experiences of leaving Kwasi Zobuntu and having the experience of being disowned, um, what would you say are some similarities and differences between what Tamara has said and what you’ve experienced?
Erika Bornman: So, you know, my, my mother disowned me, but she maintains it’s my choice because I knew that, um, I was turning my back on God and therefore she cannot be my mother.
Um, my sister’s, uh, husband and my sister forbade me to have any contact with my three nieces because it’s their God given duty to protect, um, their children from Satan. Um, And so, but for many years I would phone my mother on her birthday and on mother’s day, um, her birthday is actually coming up, um, next week.
I won’t be phoning. And she would sometimes phone me on my birthday, those first few years. But then, then that
stopped. Um, it’s
just, it’s, it’s kind of in my book, I have a chapter called the ache that doesn’t go away or the ache that won’t go away. You know, it’s, you learn to live with it. And in a way, in the way I’ve come to understand who my mother is and what kind of a person she is, I’m actually glad she’s not in my life.
I don’t like her very much. My sister and my nieces are a different matter though. Um, but it’s just, you just learn to live with it. And my friends are my family now, you know, I have, I have an amazing brother that I’m very close to and wonderful aunts and uncles and, and, and, and that, but, but that core family, you know, I see a mother and daughter and I see a beautiful relationship and it just hits you in the gut every single time.
Kacey: Do you feel like. There’s always a small spark of hope that you might get that phone call on your birthday even though part of you says I don’t, I don’t want that communication. Do you feel like you’ll always have a part of you that, that, that will hope for, for that phone call?
Erika Bornman: You know, Casey, I think for a long time, yes.
But, um, now that I’ve written my book, when I, when I wrote my book, I knew that this was, this was it. They will never speak to me again.
I kind of squashed out that, that bit of hope. Um. I mean, the only way that we would reconnect is if one of them left.
Kacey: Gosh, these places don’t make anything easy, ever.
And they also don’t make telling your story easy. They, it’s so difficult to do something that seems so small, I suppose, to, to people without the experience or education to just I’m going to tell you a story about my life. And, and, and just to some, I imagine that sounds like no, no big thing, but to individuals that come and speak on this show, it’s everything.
It’s everything. It’s everything from, from taking back power and language in a way that you would never had access to it before to understanding your experiences to also potentially jeopardizing forever. Relationships that you have not done anything wrong in to begin with. So it’s a big convoluted and messy thing.
Um, but it is the thing that all of us have the ability to tell our stories in the way that, that we see. best for us, which, interestingly, is the panel that I’ll be doing with Mike Losh later on. So you can come and join in with that and listen to us talking about telling your story. So we’ll move on to some of the things that people have said in the chat, and then perhaps we can see if anyone has any questions for the last 12 minutes or so.
Paul has said, um, Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences, um, which I echo, thank you so much for, for sharing that with, uh, with us, uh, continuously as well, uh, coming back here onto the show and, and, and allowing individuals to hear those experiences, um, Sue said, uh, temporary marriages occur in extreme Islamic groups, all the fun and none of the responsibility of marriage, so I, maybe Sue missed Uh, the, the beginning where we talked about this being a Sufi group, um, which might make a lot of sense there where we, we speak, think about extremist, uh, Islamic teachings.
Um, Samantha said, do you know how many people are still in the community? I suppose both of you could answer that question.
Erika Bornman: So for me, it’s thousands, but a bit less now than there was in 2020. So, yay.
Dr. Tamara MC: So we had three separate leaders and everybody’s gone in so many different directions that it’s not in the same way, but the leaders do have influence. They left the United States. They’re living out of the country and they do have like. cells of people in different places. So I don’t really know, but probably, I don’t know, 500 perhaps.
I haven’t even thought of this as a number. So.
Kacey: It would be interesting to know. And also when I was listening to you talk tomorrow about the, um, the idyllic environment that this group was based in, it sounded absolutely beautiful, like, like, like paradise. And sometimes when I was reading your book, Erica, parts of KSB with the, with the kind of, um, homestead, uh, aspect of it, it gave me that vibe as well, which is so unfortunate because these, these beautiful places exist and these monsters just happen to live on those bits of, on those bits of land.
Dr. Tamara MC: well, well, I think, I think that they purposely find these beautiful pieces of land to attract people. So it’s actually like, I know that our leader found this beautiful place and I’ve heard many other communities, they find these idyllic settings because they’re really recruiting to utopia. And so it’s this, it’s this amazing environment.
And naturally I find that so many of these places are just stunning. And so there is always, I feel that aspect or it can be that aspect. There can also be really ugly places too. So. Yeah,
Kacey: like, like just one house, one random house on a terrace street somewhere in the world with about 30 people living inside that nobody knows about.
Oh gosh. People come and go out of that house quite a lot. I wonder what’s happening in there. Um, which is, which is interesting and also gives me a chance to say that escaping Utopia is one of the books by y Lulich up for grabs today in the raffle. So we have John here, John Verner. Hello John. Oh, thank you so much for tuning in.
John Verner, everybody, of the Cult of Christianity podcast. Such a coherent and retrospective voice in the community. Um, I need to ask you, John, actually some questions about why the world goes by the BCAD kind of thing. Like, how did that happen? I keep having these religious questions that I, and I’m like, who can I ask?
I think John. I,
Erika Bornman: John, thank you. Hi. And I owe you an email. I will write to you. Promise.
Kacey: And then Nicola Ranson, who is also going to be doing a panel with us later on the stream says, thank you for sharing your story. And. And Nicola has her own book coming out soon, A Slice of Orange, based on her experiences following Bhagavan Sri Rajneesh.
It’s an incredible book. I’m very lucky to have read it a while ago now, long before other people have had a chance. So I’m going to show off a little bit about that. I’m really looking forward to it. Samantha says, don’t feel obligated to answer if this is inappropriate, but is there any type of incest within your communities?
Just hearing Erica’s story about her niece’s husband with severe mental issues wasn’t sure if maybe that was a product of potential incestual reproduction.
Erika Bornman: I’m, I’m happy to answer that. Um, Samantha, this particular, um, genetic thing, he, he actually is transmitted from his mother. Um, I, I don’t think it’s that, but they are certain families that are very prominent.
Um, and there has been, I don’t think. incest necessarily, but certainly maybe second cousins getting married. And then of course, there is incest because there are pedophiles there. Um, but, um, not that results in pregnancies as far as, uh, as far as I know, however, there was one person who testified at the commission of inquiry that they were abandoned.
babies. Um, so who knows what happens, but I don’t have enough information on that to be able to talk about it.
Kacey: Thank you for answering that question, Erica. I imagine that comes with the territory of discussing the difficulties around access to Western medicine and, um, and, and trained midwives and medical teams and, uh, the difficulties of living in isolated environments where women are treated like reproductive.
Chattel, cows, cattle and, and, um, and, and kind of gives me 12 tribes in the news right now vibes because if anybody is keeping up with the, the, the 12 tribes movement, they’re selling off all their properties because people are finding burial grounds on those properties, um, because of what I’ve just mentioned.
Um, so it’s, it’s always like, um. Everybody’s story is very different, but the earmarks and similarities are just so, so strikingly similar. Um, and Daniel says, Hi Daniel, VIP in the chat everybody. Sorry if I’ve missed this in the discussion. Tamara, have you written a book about your experiences too? Very good question, Daniel.
Dr. Tamara MC: Hi, Daniel. So I am writing my book. I’ve been writing it for quite some time. So far it’s called Child Bride, My Marriage at 12. And I’m currently revising it, but I have many agents interested. So I’ve been, I’m just, I’ve been actually honing my craft of writing for 10 years. So I have been focusing, I’ve been in many, I went to Columbia University for an MFA.
I then did a couple of different memoir incubators. So for me, like my writing. It has to be really good before I come out with it. So that’s, so that’s where I’m at right now. And just to go back to the incest, I just wanted to say that I think incest can be very common in these communities only because they are so close knit and they’re so small and within our community, we didn’t.
Go to the outside world. Like we were only like this small community and there were only a certain number of men, a certain number of women, and then these people, then two people would have children. And so eventually they were very incestual and it’s not necessarily, I mean, it can be linked to like a cousin or whatever, but for example, My first husband.
Well, anyways, it’s all very confusing, but all of, everybody’s somehow related through marriage in my community, it seems like, like there is a link somehow.
Kacey: I find that is very prevalent in plural marriage environments as well, or forced polygamy environments as some people may say, um, I would be inclined to also say it that way, but, um.
I don’t know if that is Kristen Decker rubbing off on me, uh, but anybody that’s aware of Kristen Decker and her work, oh, just what an incredible woman she is. Um, Escaping Polygamy, another amazing memoir you could go and check out. Um, and, so anybody that is
Dr. Tamara MC: Sorry, I was just going to say, my community was polygamist, and so that’s probably, and I also, so I think that that also makes sense.
And just, just, I didn’t say this, but I love I left my marriage because my, my husband at the time married another woman so I wasn’t a polygamous marriage so I am a survivor of polygamy as well.
Kacey: And, and forced polygamy because very, very against your wishes did that arrangement take place.
Dr. Tamara MC: That’s correct.
Kacey: You wanted to add something, Erica?
Erika Bornman: No, I wanted to add something about, about books.
Like, um, yeah, tomorrow I’m super excited for your memoir, but Casey, um, I’m happy to add one of my Audible or Kindle books to your giveaway. I know last time I did, and I completely forgot this time. Um, I’d recommend Kindle or Audible. You’re the one I can decide which one because like South African Post Office is appalling.
So I’d rather just make sure that you get the electronic version.
Kacey: Oh, that’s amazing. Thank you so much, Erica. Everybody’s just, I get overwhelmed with just the outpouring of support from, from everybody and, and, and people’s willingness to come and, and talk in this capacity. Tamara, you do have writing published.
out on the big world wide web that people can go and read. Um, can you please let everybody know, um, some of the things that you’ve written and I will put a link in the episode description. Also, anybody that’s interested in finding out, um, more about every guest, their websites. Their, their publications, their writings, um, their own podcasts, their Patreons, everything can be found on, uh, Coltvaultpodcast.
com. There’s a page that has links to everybody’s works, their, their biographies and everything. So there’s Tamara’s website. Um, please Tamara, let everybody know where they can find some of the things you’ve written.
Dr. Tamara MC: Oh, sure. Um, Oh, gosh, I don’t know exactly where to say, but just find me on my socials.
Tamara MC PhD or Tamara MC. And there’s many links, but I don’t have them right. There’s, there’s a few on my website. And also I don’t have a book yet, but I didn’t realize there was a raffle, but I am absolutely willing to put something into the raffle. If I would like to offer like a one on one session with somebody in the raffle that they could.
I could have like a one on one with them and we could chat, so whatever, however you want to do that, that would be wonderful.
Kacey: Amazing. Thank you so much, Tamara. That’s, that’s so kind of you. And, and I, these people keep offering things and I’m like, oh man, I just want to keep that one. I might just keep that one for myself.
When Alex Tate sent these amazing books, I was like, oh, I’ll just keep a copy of that.
Erika Bornman: I want to ask if you can rig the raffle. Like,
Kacey: no, I can’t break the raffle. Why Erica? What is it that you,
Oh, that is, wouldn’t that be amazing? Maybe, maybe you, maybe you’ll get it. Maybe you’ll get it right. So that is, um, that brings us to the
Dr. Tamara MC: Sorry, just real quick.
I just wanted to say, I wanted to really dedicate this episode. Like there are women and girls right now that are not able to share their stories and who are still imprisoned. And I just really wanted, like where we’re able to be here today. And that’s so incredible, but it took me so many years to get here.
So if for some reason you’re on the other side of this and you’re not able to speak yet. Like, I don’t see you and I can’t hear you, but I can still feel you somehow. And like, we’re a community and we’re all here and I support like all of you. So please like, like, just know that there’s going to be a time where you’re going to get out and you’re going to be able to like, use your voice.
Erika Bornman: Yeah. I echo that. Thank you Tamara. And if, if anybody is listening to this, um, my DMs are open always. So yeah.
Kacey: Thank you both so much. Thank you. People can grab copies of Mission of Malice. I know that my camera is mirrored before somebody says, Casey, you’re, have you got that book? Yeah, that book’s backwards.
I have my camera mirrored. But Mission of Malice, you can grab that. There are links on my website. You can, you can go find it on all the big stores. And then Tamara has written for Salon, I believe. Um, and also, um, has a review published on, uh, Daniela Mestianek Young’s Uncultured, which I think includes an interview with Daniela herself as well.
So everything’s interconnecting. Everything is beautiful. I appreciate both of you so, so much for being here with me today to share your experiences of cults, coercive control, and the implications and difficulties of having loved ones still remaining inside those groups. We are a person short today. So just before we finish today, I did just want to say that we are thinking about you.
We are sending you our strength and we are here to speak offline. Um. Whilst we can’t speak online. Much like Tamara’s just said, echoing everything Tamara’s just said. Absolutely beautiful. So thank you, thank you both so much. And I hope that you enjoy the rest of your day, Tamara, and the rest of your evening, Erica.
Erika Bornman: Well, I’m going to see how much of the 12 hour I can stay awake for, Casey. And I would just like to end by giving you a big shout out. Um, because you are an amazing advocate for all of us and you’ve become a friend and I’m, I appreciate your friendship so much. And please tell your listeners, um, I almost want to say, please introduce yourself to your listeners, but please tell your listeners about the award that you’re up for.
at CrimeCon next weekend.
Kacey: Oh, yes. Oh my goodness. So on Friday, I will be attending the True Crime Awards in London to, um, to be, I’m shortlisted in the category of best independent true crime podcast, um, which is amazing in, in so many ways, because first of all, people refer to Colts as true crime adjacent.
Um, which, uh, if you ask me, and I think I’m a bit biased, I would say that cults are the most true crime of all true crime because they are happening right now in, in every single capacity that you can think of psychologically, physically, um, and I think it’s incredible that the podcast is being recognized, but most especially because the 10 minute segment that I submitted for the proposal was, um, made up of Erica’s testimony on the podcast.
So, um, I sent off 10 minutes of Erica telling her story and people have. Really esteemed judges have, have, have, people that have worked for, um, the BBC for, for 30 years have listened to this audio and felt that it, um, deserves a spot in the, in the top six, uh, best independent true crime. podcasts. Um, so I’m going to be having fingers and toes crossed next Friday.
Perhaps this time next week, I will be a mess, a crying mess because, uh, well, we would have won the award. Um, no, and I can go to every single person that’s been on the show and say, your stories are being heard. They’re being listened to. They matter. They count. People are recognizing that, um, that, that.
this, this, this podcast and your stories are making a difference.
Erika Bornman: Well, I already have Babli in the fridge for next Friday. So.
Kacey: I’m excited. Thank you both so much. I will chat to you both soon. Take care.
Oh, what a wonderful first panel. I’m all emotional now after that. So, let me just have a look at what’s going on in the chat. Thank you for sharing. Excellent session. Best wishes Tamara for the forthcoming book. I can’t wait for that. I can’t wait. And Erica’s book is an excellent read. It is, John. It is.
You said you’re already a fan of Erica’s. Me too. We have that in common. Um, and Juco’s here. He’s on Twitch. I’m glad to know that Twitch is working. That’s excellent stuff. Um, John says, incredible accomplishment, Casey. You’re a winner in my book. Thanks, John. The book of, of the most, um, alliterations anybody’s ever put in the title of a book.
I love that. Thank you so much, John. Congratulations, Casey. Wonderful achievement to be nominated. Thank you, Daniel. Bye. I agree. A huge, huge accomplishment. Um, now we just have to win. Um, for every guest that’s ever been on the show. Um, they, they said that at the awards, there’s wine on the table. So I think that.
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