Monday, April 12, 2010

This is not the first time Church leaders have misled Kenyans

By Joseph Lister Nyaringo, New Jersey, USA
Church leaders have failed to show leadership especially on matters of national importance. In 2004, they trashed the Bomas draft, even when the Pop’s representative to Kenya had supported it. In 2005 referendum, they advised Kenyans to vote through their conscience, a deviation of the Church’s role as the “conscience” of nation.

Before President Kibaki who is a Catholic took over from Moi in 2003, the Catholic Church fought with Kenyans for good governance as exhibited by retired Archbishop Raphael Mwana Nzeki. He fought for multipartism as well as being fir firm at the height of tribal clashes in the Rift Valley in 1992.
Ndingi, was in the league with the late Bishops Alexander Muge of Eldoret and Henry Okullu of Maseno South Dioceses.
What real went wrong with Church leaders after Kibaki entered the House on the hill when they kept former President Moi on his toes?
The role of Rev. Timothy Njoya, the late Archbishop Manesses Kuria, Henry Okullu, Kipsang Muge, and David Gitari will never fade from Kenyan memories. They stood against injustice, corruption, tribalism and political cronyism during Moi’s regime.
It’s should be remembered that the worst from the clergy was in 2004 when Bishop Peter Njoka, once embroiled on cash for prayers at City hall and Bishop Moses Njue, went a head telling Kibaki to act tough on dissenters in the Narc government whom they said were taking the President for granted.
As if this was not enough, they proposed the introduction of “Kibaki Day” as a national holiday.
Although they apologized for taking a tribal path in2007 general elections and the subsequent violence, Kenyans can’t forget how the Church failed its cardinal responsibility to bring Kibaki and Raila Odinga to the negotiation table. If they preached harmony, tolerance, love, peace and tranquility, these would have de-escalated the post election violence.
On the draft constitution, Church leaders should know that it’s only in heaven that we have a perfect constitution. Threatening to mobilize Kenyans to reject the draft is hypocritical.
That said, we applause the head of the Anglican Church Dr. Eliud Wabukala and Rev. Timothy Njoya for advising Kenyans to vote “yes” for the new constitution. The two have emulated the wisdom of Moses and David, both religious and political leaders who gave their people direction during challenging times.
The Secretary General of the NCCK, Rev. Peter Karanja should scale down his hard-line position on the draft constitution, failure to which, Kenyans will conclude that he is a sympathizer to the current constitution which is the source of Kenya’s current problems.
No wonder, the reverend has advocated before for an early election under the current constitution that Kenyans want to get rids off to quell squabbles in the coalition government.
The two contentious clauses in the draft constitution: the Kadhi courts and abortion do not make Kenyans lesser Christians. On abortion, women can’t be left in suspense when abortion is needed to safe a mother’s life. Also, to expung Kadhi courts, which is intact in the current constitution will portray intolerance from the Christian majority and this will augur badly for religious harmony and ecumenical cooperation between Christians and Muslims. There is no religion superior than another since God created Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Agnostics and atheists with equal rights.
If religious leaders played their roles as the nation’s conscience, former United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan will come to Kenya mainly to watch the “big 5” in the Mara and enjoy the breeze in our Coastal Beeches.
Kenyans are tired with MOUs which keeps our nation at ransom when they are not honoured. An MOU with Christians on the draft constitution will drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians.
After all, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been a victim of MOUs, the first one in 2002 with Kibaki, second in 2007 with the National Muslim Leaders Forum (NAMLEF), and in 2008 during the power sharing with Kibaki that cobbled the Coalition government.
In all MOUs, except the one with NAMLEF, Kenyans have been treated with theatrics of betrayals, enmity and disunity. Promising amendments after the constitutional referendum by the government will be a lie to the Church. In fact, President Kibaki has a history of dishonouring agreements. After all, the constitution will be in force when he is in retirement.
Let us vote “yes” to pass the new constitution. Any changes in the draft will be done as needed by tomorrow’s generation who may have more virtue and wisdom for a better document than what we want today.
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