Three weeks into a possible future…
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.
KAYE: The island nation of Sri Lanka was transformed literally overnight as an obscure deity claimed rulership over the country and its people. The reactions of those left behind, as well as our continuing coverage of the ends of the world.
And, in Cameroon today, President Paul Biya has officially requested the intervention of the African Union and NATO in dealing with a spate of possessions which threaten to destabilize the nation. What all this has to do with an extinct witch-cult.
And, along with the ascension of Zuhhak and death, it's one of the unavoidables of life. That's right: taxes. But one Silicon Valley entrepreneur is looking to gameify filing tax returns, giving us something to look forward to come April 15th.
It's Friday, March 22th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Clifford Schwab is currently on indefinite medical leave due to severe locust inhalation. We wish him a speedy recovery.
We start today in South Asia where an obscure island nation, best known for one of the longest-running civil wars in modern history and its many varieties of tea, has become a literal heaven on Earth thanks to the efforts of an obscure deity.
On Thursday morning, Afanam, the Great Creator, Lord of All Wisdom and Holiness, was almost completely unknown outside of a small group of followers.
By Thursday evening, he ruled over the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka, where he had struck down all tyranny and injustice and instituted a new quote "free love and love-all" reign.
Correspondent Gunavati Mahale brings us more.
MAHALE: Sri Lanka. The pearl of the Indian Ocean. Despite heated fighting in Bangledesh, the country was relatively untouched by the ongoing religious battles in the region. Until now. At approximately 12:15 PM, local time, Afanam, an almost-unknown god materialized in the offices of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and claimed sovereignty over the country, demanding that Rajapaksa immediately relinquish control.
Rajapaksa refused and was destroyed by a glance from the deity. Afanam then proceeded to proclaim the entire nation to be his domain, dissolving parliament by erasing both the building and its 225-person membership from existence.
Over the next six hours, numerous radical reforms were enacted, including an end to all violence and inequality, the execution of all tax collectors, the elimination of clothing and all forms of currency.
Next, the god-ruler joined with his subjects in one mind, reportedly informing them, quote "your days of suffering are at an end. Gather around my throne for all eternity, in free and communal love and free from pain and suffering, and sing my praises unending."
The eccentric deity then materialized every one of the twenty million Sri Lankans to the capital city of Colombo, where it allegedly instructed its assembled subjects to, quote "go at it." Early reports suggest that nearly a thousand Sri Lankans died from the initial shock of sudden materialization.
When asked for comment, the spokescrystal for Afanam said the following.
ARANDRALCASE LUBRUSANTIOPALIU, SRI LANKAN PRESS SECRETARY: All is well. The Sri Lankan people have happily begun worshiping the light, perfect and unimpeachable, that is Afanam, as they will do for the rest of time. There is nothing more to be said.
MAHALE: When pressed on how these developments might impact efforts at reproachment between ethnic Tamil and Sinhalese, Lubrusantiopaliu emitted a high-frequency humming that melted all plastic in the vicinity. Immediately afterwards, all journalists found themselves returned to their cities of origins.
Gunavati Mahale, CNN, Mumbai.
KAYE: Thank you, Gunavati. If you are currently in Sri Lanka, tweet your situation, along with the hashtag #afanamcnn, and give us your take on the events of today.
While Afanam might have come down in Sri Lanka, his most devout, and indeed, only followers were a small group known as "The Followers of Light." Scott O'Hara brings us the other side of the day's most shocking story: that of faithful left behind.
O'HARA: It's a bright sunny day here in Pollensbee, Texas. The perfect day for a picnic or tree climbing or a nude love-in. But the atmosphere here at the "Righteous Light" compound is anything but sunny.
SISTER MENSYIA, ANAFAM DEVOTEE: It's just like, a bummer, y'know? Why not us? We're all Afanam's children and whatever, but, like, really?
O'HARA: Despite being the only followers of Afanam, the "Followers of Light" found yesterday morning that the paradise their leader had prophesied had come about. In Sri Lanka.
Starting in 1978, Charles Garrison, a miner-turned-drifter, claimed to have revelations from a god he called Afanam. Despite several run-ins with the IRS and local law enforcement, Garrison, who in 1985 legally changed his name to "The Beloved," continued to attract a following with his message of simple communal living, communion with nature, and free love.
At the time of his death in 2009, Garrison's movement had over two hundred followers, most choosing to live in the "Righteous Light" compound here in Pollensbee, Texas.
However, with the revelation late last night that Afanam had chosen the people of Sri Lanka for his heaven, the fate of the compound and its inhabitants has become unclear. Some, such as Father Leisabu, de-facto leader of the movement, are optimistic.
FATHER LEISABU, SENIOR ANAFAM FOLLOWER: We'll keep soldiering on, definitely… definitely. We didn't stop when the wicked world invaded us in '89 for sharing our love, or when they tried to take more from our old lives. It's like… if Afanam doesn't find us worthy, we'll keep purifying ourselves until he does.
O'HARA: However, others are less sure of themselves.
MENSYIA: I mean, I've been here for, like, ever. And I've lived on the earth and I been simple and I let go of my ego or whatever. So if Afanam doesn't want to choose me, screw 'im. I been doing right according to lots of religions. Wiccans, some 'a the Quakers, Unitarians, probably, all the Buddhists. Hell, I heard the Northern Fifthers are taking anyone they can find. It's a seller's market, man. Unless there's a sign or something, I might just move on.
O'HARA: While the Path of Light claimed to reveal the questions of the cosmos, it hasn't been able to answer one just yet: "What now?"
Scott O'Hara, CNN, Pollensbee, Texas.
KAYE: Thank you, Scott. Later tonight, be sure to catch Fareed Zakaria GPS tonight at 7 PM, where he'll be asking Kalki, final avatar of Vishnu, what this means for the eschatological conflict raging throughout South Asia.
And, after the break, we'll be taking a look at Cameroon, where a gang of minor deities has been causing chaos through mass possessions. Stick around.