MOVE's Guinness record riles survivor

The Philadelphia Inquirer/November 1, 2007

MOVE's Ramona Africa is fuming at the new Guinness Book of Records. Under a list of "modern mass suicides" assembled by the London-based Cult Information Centre, the 2008 edition identifies "The Move" while citing the deaths of 11 members in May 1985.

"Suicide?" asks Africa, the sole adult survivor of the May 13, 1985, inferno started by a bomb dropped by the city. The fire also leveled a block of Osage Avenue in West Philly.

Africa points out that the city paid millions to the so-called back-to-nature group to settle civil suits. "Why would they settle if it was mass suicide?" she says.

She also bristles at the "cult" tag.

The Cult Information Centre and Guinness have not responded to my requests for comment. Africa said she reached the center and received an "arrogant and uncooperative" response. "The point is," she said, "if they are an information center, how can they do that without even talking to anybody in the organization?"

Topping the Guinness list were the 924 members of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Uganda, 2000). "The Move" falls between Heaven's Gate (39 dead in California in 1997) and the Symbionese Liberation Army (six dead in 1974).

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