Will ACK ‘cast first stone’ to drive out neg­a­tive eth­nic­ity?

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Society - OTIENO KENY­ATTA

Once upon a time, churches were voices of rea­son, but to­day trib­al­ism is part of the gospel. As the Angli­cans seek Wabukhala’s suc­ces­sor, Kenyans are watch­ing to see if lean­ings to­wards colo­nially-as­signed re­gions of dom­i­nance will be chal­lenged

The sad­dest thing about neg­a­tive eth­nic­ity in Kenya is that it has in­fil­trated and reared its ugly head deep in the church. The naïve as­sump­tion is that the church will al­ways rise above trib­al­ism, but the re­al­ity is the same peo­ple who spew hate in the streets are the same ones who wor­ship in the churches. This comes against the gen­eral un­com­fort­able re­al­ity of a church that will go to any lengths to wa­ter down any tribal talk within its ranks just to keep the boat afloat.

An Angli­can friend of mine once joked that you will never get the right can­di­date in an elec­tion in Kenya be­cause even his arch­bishop was a com­pro­mise can­di­date. He then ex­plained to me the in­trigues that led to Dr Eliud Wabukhala win­ning 75 per cent of 162 Angli­can Church of Kenya Elec­toral Col­lege votes. He beat Maseno West Bishop Joseph Wa­songa in the fourth round af­ter see­ing off Taita Taveta’s Bishop Samson Mwaluda and Bishop Stephen Ke­wa­sis of Ki­tale in the ear­lier rounds.

The fire burn­ing un­der the ash was that ma­jor­ity of ACK con­gre­ga­tion felt that the Mt Kenya re­gion had given Kenya two Arch­bish­ops in Manasses Kuria and David Gi­tari who led the church for a to­tal of twenty-three years un­til 2003. It was thus agreed that the Mt Kenya re­gion bish­ops with­draw from the race.

At a glance, Joseph Wa­songa was the strong­est can­di­date to clinch the seat. He had lost to Nz­imbi in 2003, so peo­ple thought he was go­ing to be the next arch­bishop un­til mur­murs were heard in Cen­tral Kenya about their dis­com­fort with him. This led to a search for an­other bishop who would be ac­cepted by cen­tral Kenya re­gion in place of Wa­songa. It is Cen­tral Kenya del­e­gates who tilted the votes in favour of then lit­tle known Bishop Eliud Wabukhala of Bun­goma to avoid a split, thus the “com­pro­mise can­di­date” tag.

Made ap­peal

Even be­fore the ink that wrote the memo ask­ing in­ter­ested can­di­dates for the arch­bishop seat to pick nom­i­na­tion pa­pers dried up, Bishop Wa­songa de­liv­ered a strong ser­mon at St Peter’s church in Si­aya. Typ­i­cal of to­day’s clergy, he urged the Elec­toral Col­lege to elect a younger bishop in a process that should be de­void of trib­al­ism. If that call had come from the late Bish­ops Henry Okullu, Alexander Muge or Arch­bishop David Gi­tari, it would have shaken the Angli­can Church. To­day, the clergy pre­fer to shoot from the hip when tack­ling con­tro­ver­sial mat­ters.

It is also re­ported that the late David Gi­tari once told the late Bishop of Maseno South Henry Okullu that a Luo will never lead the Angli­can Church in Kenya. This was cap­tured in one of Okullu’s writ­ings and was high­lighted be­fore Gi­tari was buried, to punc­ture his im­pres­sive hu­man rights de­fence record. Look­ing at this with the mur­murs from Mt Kenya, one gets the ele­phant in the room that the ACK will do its best to cover in evan­gel­i­cal drap­ing.

Once upon a time in the 80s, many Kenyans were afraid to speak against the abuse of hu­man rights, loot­ing and grab­bing by govern­ment of­fi­cials in the Kanu govern­ment. Apart from a small group of rad­i­cal ac­tivists who propped up their head once in a while, the voice of rea­son came from the church.

Upon the open­ing up demo­cratic space

Clergy at a meet­ing.

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