10 February 2007

Kenya: Bishop Wanjiru Celebrates Love Without a Wedding

Nairobi — There was no spiced cake or a ten metre train bridal party for the besieged couple - Bishop Margaret Wanjiru and her South African fiance Pastor Samuel Matjeke.

The controversial preacher obeyed a court order barring any such celebration as Matjeke stayed away from the Jesus is Alive Ministries Church on Saturday.

But determined to minister to her congregation, Bishop Wanjiru conducted a service in the church. Thousands of her followers and friends, however, turned up with wedding gifts.

Outside, close to 50 security guards donning green uniforms surrounded the church ostensibly hired for any eventuality and to keep idlers at bay.

Adorned in a maroon dress, the tough talking preacher said her church was a law abiding organisation.

"We will abide by the law. There will be no wedding because that is what the order says, but we will not be intimidated by hooligans," said Wanjiru, amid chants of Amen.

Her admirers cheered wildly as she denounced court process servers who visited her premises on Friday.

"To those who pasted the order on the walls, I want to tell them there is a better way of doing things. They knew my lawyers and could have served the orders to them," said the embattled bishop.

She plunged into politics

She said that, although the order restrained her and her fiancÈ from celebrating marriage, she had not been banned from holding a church service.

"Today is a good day for witnessing what God has done for us," thundered the bishop.

She then proclaimed herself a soldier of love.

"There is no great thing in this world than love. Those who have never had it cannot really know how it feels," she said.

After leading the Church choir and followers in songs and prayers, she plunged into politics. She said she was confident of clinching the Starehe constituency seat and that all her allies would be elected as councilors.

"Whether the devil likes it or not, we are taking Starehe for Jesus," she told the congregation.

After service, the bishop emerged from her office to acknowledge cheers from some placard waving youths.

Donated an undisclosed amount of money

The youths chanted "Bishop ni Wetu, Bishop Wanjiru for Starehe," and others clutched placards that read, "Leave the Bishop's Family alone, she is a good leader."

They caused a traffic snarl up along Haile Selasie Avenue, which the traffic police had a hard time clearing.

She then drove to Kirinyaga Road and told the cheering Jua Kali artisans that the problems she was facing had nothing to do with her planned wedding.

"It is because I have declared my candidature for the Starehe seat. I promise my supporters that I will not play dirty politics. I appeal to the people of Starehe to support me," she said.

She also donated an undisclosed amount of money to assist artisans whose stands were gutted down by fire last week.

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