Tama-Re, or the Egypt of the West

[Image: The black pyramid at Tama-Re, the Egypt of the West].

After watching a documentary about Ted Kaczynski—the Unabomber—I started looking into the supermax prison where Kaczynski is currently being held in the mountains of Colorado. And there have been a lot of bizarre people incarcerated there, including Andrew Fastow, former Chief Financial Officer of Enron, and Charles Harrelson, the (now deceased) hitman father of actor Woody Harrelson.

One of the inmates who particularly stood out, however, was Dwight York. York is “an author, black supremacist leader, musician, and convicted child molester,” Wikipedia tells us, and he built a colorful, Ancient Egyptian-themed instant city on several hundred acres of forest land in the U.S. state of Georgia.

[Image: Tama-Re photographed from above, via Wikimapia].

The Urban Dictionary’s description of Tama-Re is amazing; it reads like every race-based fear of the white U.S. middle class summed up in one surreal location.

When York and his Nuwaubians moved there and began erecting pyramids and obelisks there was much curiosity about the group. However trouble started when the citizens became aware of the fact that York was an ex-Black Panther and a convicted felon and statutory rapist who was preaching the gospel that whites were mutants and were inferior to blacks. There is also a foam rubber alien on display in the compound that causes problems with public relations. Officials have had problems with the Nuwaubians failing to comply with zoning and building permits that coincide with what they have created. The Nuwaubians feel that this is a racist attack.

It’s hard to top a “foam rubber alien,” but the fear-factor nonetheless gets ratcheted up a notch:

Many children from upper middle class cities have left college to live in poverty at the cult’s compound, Tama Re. This has caused a lot of turmoil in the lives of many families who can’t accept the fact that their sons and daughters have left them to follow an alien messiah. Throughout the grounds speakers everywhere emit the humming sound of Egyptian chants 24 hours a day. Inside one of the pyramids you can buy books and clothes as well as a Dr. York doll. The people who live on the land dwell in a trailer park full of double-wides. York claims his people are Moors who traveled by foot from Africa to what is currently Georgia before the continental drift. The only problem with this “indisputable” fact is that the moors were Muslims who existed way after the birth of Christ which was only approximately 2000 years ago.

Ergo, there was no way in plate tectonics that they could have walked all the way to Georgia.

In June 2005, after the compound’s governmental seizure, financial forfeiture, and ensuing sale for $1.1 million, outright demolition began. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time, the local sheriff was on the scene, “speaking with relish as he watched crews tear through the series of obelisks, statues, arches and buildings. Many of the dozens of structures were weathered and in disrepair. He said very few of the Egyptian structures or objects were worth salvaging. ‘It feels good to tear down the SOB myself,’ he said. ‘By the middle of next week, there will be nothing but a couple of pyramids.'”

How, though, could these sorts of messianic compounds be addressed by and incorporated into architectural discourse? How do tacky black pyramids full of Luxor references complexify or contradict something like Venturi & Scott-Brown’s ideas of pop cultural ornament discussed just this past weekend at Yale?

Put another way, when will religious compounds find a journalist willing to travel around the world writing an architectural history of these fringe religious environments and stylistically eccentric cult enclaves?

These are sites built such that their every spatial detail is not justified by some historically rigorous academic architectural code, but because they function, psychologically, as a piece-by-piece tuning of the built environment. Add enough ornamental references together, these spaces say, and some weird new Messiah might yet someday return. It is functional ornament.

[Image: The ashes of the David Koresh compound in Waco, Texas].

Of course, I’m fascinated by the idea that Tehran, for instance, has been analyzed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—who trained as a traffic engineer—for its ability to handle the crush of cars and pedestrians that will show up to greet the returning Messiah. And, spatially speaking, I would love to read more about the now-destroyed Texas farmhouse inside of which David Koresh once preached his Branch Davidian gospel. But what about the central headquarters of Aum Shinrikyo, where LSD-fueled physicists meditated in the dark, crowned with well-lit helmets of electrodes, or the mirrored room inside of which Heaven’s Gate cultists once strangled themselves out of fear of Hale-Bopp?

Somewhere between Spaced Out, Survival City, and Gomorrah, a seriously amazing book about the architectural design of religious compounds is waiting to be written.

18 thoughts on “Tama-Re, or the Egypt of the West”

  1. Excellent observations. It's in these fringe movements that we can break out of our everyday perspective and see the power of architecture revealed. Is the Mall of America with it's logos any less a temple chock full of cult symbolism?

    1. I’m tired of individuals lying on him. He is not a rapist or child molester, the proof of that is out there, actual documented court records that show who he really is and how he was forced to take that plea under duress (something that’s illegal) He’s also an African diplomat and a Yamassee Indigenous Chief to these lands. There were people that plotted against him with “those in power” to lock him away the way they did and if people helping to slander his name would take just as much time to actually look into who he is and what REALLY happened instead of accepting fake news you would see the truth! There are videos out where the victims are speaking out one of them is actually his son and he admitted that his dad didn’t do that and that the person who’s name is really that name that the government falsely placed on him/misnomer him to be, was actually one of his older children that was the one doing that with another woman that lived there in Eaton Georgia! They know they have the wrong person locked up but it’s because he is speaking on things that has made many religious sects get pissed because with his truth out there those that have created the chaos on this planet can no longer hide who they are! Another lasting thought for you hypocrites and racist, when they kidnapped him and put him in jail (breaking an international law by locking up an diplomat, they did that with the intent and hopes that the inmates would kill him! Everyone knows what happens to rapist in jail! But I ask why and how is it that when he got to Colorado how is it that he had skin heads who know who he is and they LIKED him! There are videos of this man telling the interviewer out of his own mouth that EVERYBODY in jail knew he was innocent after they talked to him! There was an AGENDA to him being locked up that’s being covered up!

      1. Left Menu

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        Women say York molested them, fathered children
        Macon Telegraph/Janury 13, 2004
        By Wayne Crenshaw
        Two women testified Monday that they were molested by cult leader Malachi York

        “We were told not to put his name on the birth certificate,” said one of the women, who is now 28. She said York first molested her when she was 13, and she later recruited and groomed younger victims for him. The paternity of her son by York was confirmed by a DNA expert who testified.

        Investigators have previously said York is believed to have fathered about 100 children.

        The other woman to testify, who is now 26, was a last-minute addition to the trial. She said she was praying a week ago when a news report about York’s trial came on television, and she contacted investigators.

        “I had to step up,” she said. “I’m the victim here. I’m not the bad person, and I wanted to let the world know that what he did was wrong.”

        She said she started having sex with York when she was 14. After she gave birth, she said, she decided to leave the compound, but had no money and no place to go, and had to leave her son behind.

        “I was just distraught in my mind,” she said. “I couldn’t do it no more.”

        She said she was told as a girl that it was “a privilege” to have sex with York, and she felt that way even after she grew into adulthood.

        The 28-year-old woman testified that York once told her why he liked to have sex with young girls.

        “His purpose for doing it was to keep the girls loyal to our culture,” she said. “He said if you have a girl when she is a virgin, she is more likely to remain loyal to you.”

        The woman was identified in the defense’s opening argument as one of the government’s key witnesses. She formerly handled the finances for York’s group, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.

        She gave the first significant testimony in relation to the racketeering charges against York, saying that he ordered her to split up bank deposits so as not to exceed $10,000. That order, she said, came after she tried to make a bank deposit over that amount, which requires a transaction report.

        She described how a chain of stores in several cities – including Macon – sold books and products developed at the compound, generating from $20,000 to $70,000 every two weeks.

        The money would come in from the stores every other Wednesday, she said, and all $50 and $100 bills went directly to York, which he kept in a black brief case. A black brief case containing $279,450 was recovered from York’s bedroom during a search of his property.

        The rest of the money, she said, went to the bank account for Holy Tabernacle Ministries. She identified a series of deposit slips, on consecutive days, which she said showed the split deposits.

        Also Monday, a 19-year-old man testified that York began molesting him when he was 13.

        Eight alleged victims have testified, and all have said the molestations began when York’s group was located in Sullivan County, N.Y. Most have said the molestations increased after the group moved to a 467-acre tract in Putnam County, where they constructed Egyptian-themed buildings, including two pyramids and a Sphinx.

        The alleged victims also said they were among the first members that York moved to Putnam County, with the rest of the group coming later. The federal child molestation charges against York accuse him for transporting children across state lines for sexual purposes. Some have als

  2. right on…. also don't forget the 'yearning for zion' polygamist mormon compound in texas. lots of rich material there…

  3. Good call Geoff, I came across the above the same way via wikipedia reading about lifers at the federal pen in CO.

  4. great article! this is a great website i linked to from wikipedia that shows the eerie egyptian monuments in greater detail: http://www.nuwaubiaholylandofthenuwaubians.com/

    another topic that this article could generate is a discussion of kitsch architecture in general, or more specifically ancient egyptian kitsch architecture (i.e. graumann's egyptian theater in hollywood and luxor hotel in las vegas). what do you think?

  5. Moors with pyramids??, haha it's the funniest thing I ever heard!!! where these people come from??? they should inform themselves before believing whatever….

    1. Moor means dark person or Black coming from the word moros and black originally meant pale and only a 500 year old word.Blacks were called moors in fact all melaninated people were called moors in all languages muur Dutch called us Moro the Philippine called us it goes on and on throughout the world.Also the word Mu’ur or Mo’or comes from Mu or Mo in short for LeMuria and the indigenous people there would be called lemurians or simply Mu’urs vowels are interchangeable do the research even the word Nuwaupian translates to Muur

  6. Some "religious" beliefs are whackier than others, or at least follow a logical structure. I'm not saying that Yorkland would've weathered well over another half-century, but there are currently some very well established religious communities that started out in a similar fashion whose foundations are now semi-forgotten because there's so much stuff and investment and time piled up on top of them. The article did make very interesting reading and the PUP idea is a good one–I'd read the book. THanks again.

  7. Don't you think that Tehran being planned for a "returning of a messiah" very useful for reacting in a situation of war or natural disaster?

    Iran often gets Earthquakes and is by far the most threatened with war country in the World.

    Ahmadinejad really isn't a stupid or loony cult leader. He's very smart and pragmatic.

  8. you could see the pyramids off the interstate state driving into and out of macon, behind razor fences and 10 miles north of the air force base.

  9. For something on this line, I recommend A Visionary State by Erik Davis and Michael Raumer, a large-format book on California spiritual groups' buildings and other constructions.

    The Federal Correctional Complex at Florence, Colorado, by the way, is not in the mountains but on the prairie.

    You can see mountains from there though.

  10. The Nuwabians also had a wonderfully curious building in Athens, GA, NE of the campus of the University of Georgia. A converted storefront, restaurant, or club (not sure which), it had a gaudy, complex stucco facade with a similar aesthetic to their compound outside of Macon. Unfortunately, that building was sold back in Fall 2008, and the facade was torn down in February 2009.

    See a great image here/.

  11. Wikipedia (wicked) tells many things and is not 100% fact. Most of your facts about Dr. York and Egypt of the West, is based on third hand information. Dr Your was never part of the Black Punters Group nor is he a black supremacist leader he was a Master Teacher. People from around the world used to come to TaMaRe Egypt of the west. He’s Doctrine is based on Right Knowledge and Facts. He Speaks 19 ancient languages and wrote over 400 books. As a humble human being do apologise to your readers for giving them information which is based on believe not fact.
    Ignorance kills

    There are more than 3 million Nuwaubian around the world from every walk of life and the doctrine of Dr Malachi Z York is growing more than ever.

    1. A tad late but there’s a ton of video evidence of York being a full-on black supremacist. Quit lying.

  12. There is a pretty good coffee table book called "In Advance of the Landing" that deals somewhat with the architecture spawned by the post-war UFO boom, and the folk-art that came out of the fascination & paranoia of the time. Yes, mostly crackpots building non-flying saucers in their yards, but also some more elaborate cult compounds.

  13. Wrong, wrong wrong. Your information is totally backwards. If you never studied Nuwaupian culture not cult then you're probably not credible to write blogs based on the internet slander perpetrated by the media.

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