Saturday, 15 December 2012

Kenya's Demonic Politics

Kenyan politics has become demonic, not in any esoteric sense of being possessed. But in the sense that it has lost its way. As Walter Wink says in his book 'The Powers That Be', "If the demonic is the spirituality produced when the angel of an institution turns its back on its divine vocation... and if the demonic arises when an angel deviates from its calling, then social change does not happen on casting out the demon, but recalling its angel to its divine task."

The angel of Kenyan politics has turned its back on its divine vocation and deviated from its calling to work for the greatest good of the greatest number. It has become captive to a handful of rich families and their retinue of praise singers, reducing the rest of us to helplessly watching from the sidelines. It is time to recall this demonic angel back to its divine task, not just by voting in March 2013, but by speaking prophetically to the Powers that be and telling them "Thus sayeth the LORD, let my people go."

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Kenya will be rebuilt and Africa shall arise!

3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love;

    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

4 I will build you up again,

    and you, Virgin Kenya, will be rebuilt.

Again you will take up your timbrels

    and go out to dance with the joyful.

5 Again you will plant vineyards

    on the hills of the Rift Valley;

the farmers will plant them

    and enjoy their fruit.

6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out

    on the hills of Cherangani,

‘Come, let us go up to Mount Kenya,

This is what the Lord says:

“Sing with joy for Africa;

    shout for the foremost of the nations.

Make your praises heard, and say,

    ‘Lord, save your people,

    the remnant of Kenya.’

8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north

    and gather them from the ends of the earth.

Among them will be the blind and the lame,

    expectant mothers and women in labor;

    a great throng will return.

9 They will come with weeping;

    they will pray as I bring them back.

I will lead them beside streams of water

    on a level path where they will not stumble,

because I am Africa’s father,

    and Kenya is my firstborn son.


10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;

    proclaim it in distant coastlands:

‘He who scattered Africa will gather them

    and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’

11 For the Lord will deliver Africans

    and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.

12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Kilimanjaro;

    they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—

the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,

    the young of the flocks and herds.

They will be like a well-watered garden,

    and they will sorrow no more.

13 Then young women will dance and be glad,

    young men and old as well.

I will turn their mourning into gladness;

    I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,

    and my people will be filled with my bounty,”

declares the Lord.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Abe Lincoln & Nelson Mandela: statesmen who did not forget to also be politicians...

 Photo: Me and My Baby, visiting Abraham Lincoln - Washington DC, June 2010
 Me and My Baby, visiting Abraham Lincoln - Washington DC, June 2010
I had to re-share this photo which Katindi and I took with Abe Lincoln when we visited him at his Memorial in the summer of 2010. My sister, brother and I have just come from watching the movie 'Lincoln' at the Hilltop Mall Theatre and it was just excellent!

The key lesson we learn from Lincoln's success in steering the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery through the House of Representatives in the wake of the Civil War is that a statesman must also not forget to be a politician. As Joe Klein points out in Time Magazine, the miracle of Abraham Lincoln the politician was that he pursued the high purpose of moving justice forward via the low arts of patronage and patronization. Klein adds, "Indeed, in a democracy, it is usually the only way great deeds are done."

This reminds me of that other man that I greatly admire, Nelson Mandela. A key lesson we learn from Mandela's own struggle for freedom is that one should have a core principle - everything else is tactics. According to Richard Stengel in a wonderful book I am currently reading, 'Nelson Mandela: Portrait of an extraordinary man', Mandela is a thorough-going pragmatist who was willing to compromise, change, adapt, and refine his strategy as long as it got him to the promised land of equal rights for all, regardless of race, class or gender. Almost any means justified that one noble end.

So, if Lincoln was willing to apply the low arts of patronage and patronization, and Mandela was willing to compromise, change and adapt his strategies, what is the difference from our own politicians who are currently making coalitions right, left and centre ahead of the elections?

The difference is that both Lincoln and Mandela did what they did in pursuit of a noble goal. Our politicians on the other hand will go to bed with the devil for the purpose only of capturing power and retaining status for themselves and their families, not for the greater good of social justice or the equal development of all our people. When it comes to the art of statesmanship and the science of politics, we have a long way to go.

Monday, 3 December 2012

A brief encounter with Uncle Sam.

It's 1.30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday when our Delta Airlines Fight 71 from Amsterdam lands in Terminal 4 at JFK Airport in New York. I make my way to the immigration desk where a young woman asks for my passport, takes my photo and fingerprints and then escorts me to the office for a further interview. I've done this so many times, I am used to the drill. So I sit and wait as I catch up on my reading. Shortly thereafter, I am called to the counter by an immigration official.

"Have you ever been arrested in the United States?" He asks the question I have answered countless times before, upon every entry I have made to the US since my arrest in California in 1993. "Yes," I tell him. "What did you do?" He asks. "It was such a long time ago, I no longer remember," I tell him knowing he has the whole record on the computer and he can read it for himself.

"When you come into our country, you don't come here to break our laws," he says condescendingly as if he is lecturing a five year old. "Well, as I have told you, it was a long time ago and I have been here over 20 times since and I have not broken any law," I say trying to ignore my fatigue and to be polite. But he doesn't relent. "Do you hear what I am telling you. We have the right to deny you entry if you are coming here to break our laws," He says. "I already told you that I am coming for holiday and work, not to break any laws. In any case, as I have told you, that was a long time ago. I was a student, and as I recall, at least two of your presidents (Clinton and Obama) have admitted to smoking pot during their student days and you still elected them President."

"They are American citizens and you are not," He says to which I retort, "Well, Clinton smoked pot but he did not inhale while he was a student at Oxford, so he too was breaking the law in a foreign country," I tell him. "What were you doing at the time you were arrested in California in 1993?" He asks. "I was a student on holiday from Oxford University," I reply. "So you are quite clever then?" He tells me. "Oh yes I am," I reply.

He stamps my passport giving me six months to remain in the US no doubt hoping it's enough time for me to be tempted to break the law so he can deny me entry next time round. We smile at each other and wish each other a nice day. He was clearly the type that expects you to scratch even where there is no itch and to beg and plead, but I have spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of others and I'll be damned if I let Uncle Sam's nondescript Immigration official bully me for the sake of his own afternoon entertainment.