5 December 2013

Kenya: Church, What Would Jesus Do in This Jubilee Year?


Like most African Countries, Kenya is estimated to have a significant Christian population.

The challenge in our case, though, is the glaring disconnect between profession and practice which has culminated into a vicious cycle of chronic corruption.

According to a recently released report, the police service, which should be leading in law enforcement, instead leads in corruption.

Some sections of the church too have been cited more often as engaging in this shameful vice. This may perhaps not be strange, but it is embarrassing to a nation that has 80% of its citizenry passing itself off as Christians.

Those who indulge in and abet corruption are the same people who flock into our churches on Saturdays and Sundays. Where and what could be the problem?

Corruption has been instrumental in the poor delivery of services.

In our times, corruption has created a dangerous environment that is increasingly giving rise to cynicism, pessimism and skepticism when it comes to the nation's future.

The group of people mostly affected by this scourge is the youth, a development that appears to have made them shift into pornography and such other escapist hobbies.

Kenyans will recall that a few months ago, 12 girls in Mombasa reportedly entertained tourists by engaging in bestiality with dogs.

It remains to be known who, or indeed which forces, might be driving this agenda at the Kenyan Coast, where drug addiction and related businesses, is wasting an entire generation.

Stories of young people engaging in criminal groups are alarming, yet nearly always persistent.

Politicians in Kenya use young people to advance their ideologies, resulting in the poisoned politics that nearly cost us a nation in 2007/8, and which are still playing out on the international stage.

It should also worry us when young people who should be productive are reduced into propaganda tools for temporal ends, as may be seen in the ever vibrant online Kenyan community.

So, what is the future of a youthful nation that boasts of being an estimated 80% Christian, yet also reflects a decadent moral compass?

Firstly, we should not wait for the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to remind us that the vice is a moral issue. At its most basic level, it exposes both the character and behavior of an individual.

Secondly, we must never forget that it is an ethical issue, even as the politics of our times constantly invite us to lower the bar in much that goes for life.

In a sense, we must keep our eyes on how much those who have embraced the vice have placed an embarrassingly low premium on justice, the rule of law, and the good manners each one of us got from our mama.

Thirdly, we need to accept that the vice is a significant spiritual issue that violates the basic tenets of various religious beliefs.

Thus, there has to be a careful and critical evaluation of the system - and theology - that has given room to the thriving of this shameful vice.

While we celebrate all that the organized Church has done in our country since independence, she can do more on this issue

By making a total overhaul of the system that has encouraged this vice, and strengthening its teachings - supported by viable life examples - the Church could very well excite many in our nation to make amends this Jubilee season.

For instance, Church members should be required to do what Biblical Zacchaeus did, in the process returning what they have acquired falsely; that's what the spirit of Jubilee calls for, and that's what we should be hearing from various State and non-State actors as we head towards this Jamhuri Day.

The institutional Church also ought to be prepared to make restitution, particularly on the land question.

In thinking about this, am always reminded of my village of birth and upbringing, whose land situation was addressed in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation (TJRC) report.

Founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta visited the area in November 1972, allotting land to three farmers' co-operative societies in Trans Nzoia County, which brought together poor people from various Kenyan communities; my village constituted one such society.

The front-page of the Daily Nation for November 2nd, 1972, still screams: Mzee gives 8,293 acres to landless.

These peasants worked for nine years to repay the loan advanced for the purchase of the said land; what followed, however, is that the scions of Kenyan politics, military and the civil service ended up taking over much of the land.

In my village, part of the land taken over has since been donated to a leading mainstream Church, where locals are often invited for revival events.

Church, what would Jesus do this Jubilee?

The writer is an ordained Church minister and also a graduate student of theology in Taiwan.

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