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Title Nuwaubians - Thousands Gather for Nuwaubian Event

Nuwaubians - Thousands Gather for Nuwaubian Event Web posted Jun. 28 at 12:43 AM Associated Press EATONTON, Ga. To the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, this rural middle Georgia town is the Little Egypt of the West. Locals are more likely to tell you it s the birthplace of storyteller Joel Chandler Harris, creator of Uncle Remus, and of Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. But this weekend, thousands of Nuwaubians some wearing Egyptian garb and Mardi Gras beads are getting the attention. They are gathering for an annual reunion at the group s 476-acre compound, which moved to Eatonton five years ago. It includes pyramids, a new Sphinx statue, obelisks and colorful flags. The five-day celebration is called Savior s Week. The sect is led by Malachi York, who claims he is an incarnated being from another galaxy. The Nuwaubians, also known as the Ancient and Mystic Order of Malchizedek, expected 50,000 people to visit this weekend. But local authorities think the number won t be that high. Putnam County sheriff s office secretary Teresa Flade said 5,000 to 6,000 people had arrived for the celebration by Saturday afternoon. She said the festivities were running smoothly in the county of about 15,000 people. Sheriff Howard Sills said if 50,000 people show up there might be some traffic problems, but so far there have been few. We went out and put up some signs that said `congested area, but there are far fewer people here than there were last year, he said. Ms. Flade said the bands scheduled Saturday were expected to attract the largest crowds of the weeklong celebration. Alicia Chester of Connecticut said she had been counting down the days to make her pilgrimage. In the world you face prejudice and racism, she said. Here we are meeting different people and getting a broader view on life. Mr. York, 53, greeted the crowd wearing a Egyptian robe and dark Fendi sunglasses. `In ancient Egypt they would have celebrations like this, and the Pharaoh would run all over the village greeting people, said Mr. York, who says he was schooled in Cairo, Egypt, and Sudan. I m not going to do that, though. I d get too tired. The order s publications and its Internet site claim that one day a chosen 144,000 will be whisked away via spaceship to experience a rebirth. The five-day event is focused on families, some of whom traveled from as far away as London, Mr. York said. We re celebrating being in the family of Right Knowledge, said Angela Reed of Atlanta. It s a time for us to get together and meet with people from all over. Motels in Eatonton and nearby Milledgeville have been filling up with the Nuwaubians. Every room is booked up, said Vinod Patel, a clerk at the Western Inn, a 30-room motel in Eatonton. It s crazy. The people keep coming, and they all want rooms. Usually we don t have this business. It s good to make the money. A Milledgeville motel rented out 60 rooms to London Nuwaubians, according to Renuka Patel, manager at the Days Inn. Others camped in motor homes and tents. It s amazing how information has gotten around about this, said Hannah Smith, who came from London with her 6-year-old daughter. There are 200 people here from England alone.