Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Not by race, tribe or colour; but by purpose...

God did not evict the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites and the Jebusites from their land merely because he favoured the Hebrews over them. No, the Hebrews were appointed to be the instruments of God's judgment over these peoples - for the sin of the Amorites had finally reached its full measure according to Genesis 15:16. And these peoples were being judged because of their detestable practices the worst being the burning of children before the fire god Moloch.
As I watch the brutal massacre of children in the killing fields of Gaza today, their sacrifice once more before the fire god, Moloch, I cry out to the God of justice and ask, how long before the sin of today's Amorites reaches its full measure? How many more children must die before you can remind us once again that no matter who we are, we are not special to you because of our race, our colour, our tribe, our creed or our even religion, but we are special to you because of our purpose? And that our purpose is to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Don't equivocate where you should lead.

Today I came across the following quote on page 314 of Gerry Loughran's book 'Birth of a Nation: The Story of a Newspaper in Kenya' chronicling the history of the Nation newspaper. He references an interview he did with me in London in the late 1990s and it has had me wondering whether our media has changed in its outlook or contribution to democracy since.
"It would be dishonest not to acknowledge 'The Nation's' occasional descent into sycophancy, its periods of calculated silence and its propensity to turn a blind eye. In a London interview with this writer in early research for this book, human rights activist Njonjo Mue used words that proved uncannily prophetic when he suggested that 'The Nation' sometimes equivocated when it should have led. Referring to the 1997 poll, he said:
""I read a number of irritating, almost patronizing editorials calling on all sides to come together and eschew violence and so on instead of taking a real stand, not for a particular party but on the side of justice and respect for human rights. In countries where the political opposition is undeveloped, the media find themselves being pushed into that vacuum, not to play a blatant opposition role but to set out the issues clearly for public debate. I felt 'The Nation' did not play the role it might have.""

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

God's Chosen People or the Synagogue of Satan?

For the longest time, ever since we were children, we were taught that Israel are God's special people, the chosen race, that as good Christians we should pray for the state of Israel.

Now I watch this genocide going on in Gaza. The murder of children, women and men; the bombing of schools and hospitals, the destruction of homes.... and this by God's chosen people.... in the name of self-defence against an occupied territory that has no army, no air force, no navy.

The death toll inflicted on the unchosen people on Day 15 is almost 700 against 20 Israelis. But Benjamin Netanyahu tells the world not to worry about the unchosen, because they are 'telegenically dead'. What does that mean???

The US and Europe ban their flights from flying to Israel over security concerns and there's an outcry from the chosen people. "Unfair!" they scream. Less than 24 hours and they are already feeling the isolation. And yet for a decade, they have blockaded the people of Gaza to suffocation.

I'm I the only Christian who is feeling confused here? My mother is no longer alive for me to ask her if I should continue to pray for the state of Israel for God to give them wisdom on how to respond to the dilemma of the 'telegenically dead', for God to protect their soldiers as they annihilate the unchosen children and destroy their homes, schools and hospitals, for God to rebuke the Americans and the Europeans for banning their planes from flying to the Holy Land.

And so this morning I have to part ways with the faith of my mother in God's chosen people. I have to remind myself that in the same scriptures that my mother told me to seek guidance from even in her absence, I have read somewhere that we should love our neighbour, that we should not kill... even 'telegenically kill.' And I have also read in the same scriptures in the third chapter of the book of Revelation the following promise of Jesus, words that I pray would bring comfort to the children dying in Gaza:

"8 See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you." 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

On activists, revolutionaries, the poor and the middle class

 A Facebook friend of mine tagged me on a post questioning the commitment of modern day human rights activists. After referencing great men who led the great struggles of the past - men like Mandela, Martin Luther King and Che Guavara - he went on to ask, "But do the current activists wear the shoes of those great men? There is a great disconnect between HR defenders and those they fight for. The underdogs live in Korokocho, Kibera, Huruma et. al as they (activist) live in upper class estates with tight security and up to date social amenities, activists eat in expensive hotels, drive and enjoy same status as the same people the fight (oppressor) which is the exact opposite of who they are fighting for. You see I habour no ill will against activist but it has puzzled me for a long time that their lifestyles betrays them. In Mandela,  Che,  Luther’s time activism was a calling, that inner desire to stand for a fellow man. Che fought, ate, slept with the oppressed in the forests and streets. They fought for no monetary value but today activism in an employment, donors are pumping money to activist groups for their own interests. Activism is losing meaning, Human Rights violation is rising who will stand for the less fortunate? We ought to redefine our priorities, let’s serve fellow man because its honourable to."

Here's my response:

My brother, you make a good point. Activism should not just be another job, and certainly it is wrong to get rich on the backs of the poor, whether you are a capitalist or an activist.

But your statement over-generalises and oversimplifies history. It is true Che Guevara 'fought, ate, slept with the oppressed,' but Che was not an activist. He was a revolutionary and he was a soldier, and as a soldier, he had to live a soldier's life. All the other people you refer to including Mandela and Martin Luther King lived typical middle class lives.

We should not be fixated with the idea that to help the poor, one must share their poverty. That is a romantic fallacy. Most revolutions in the world have been started and led by the middle class, not the poor. And it is not necessary for me to move to Korogocho in order to stand up and fight for the rights of the people of Korogocho.

Most of us have already been there and done that. We were raised in poverty and endured deprivation. That is why we fight for a better life for all. And most of us have paid and continue to pay a high price for our activism. Many of my classmates that chose safer paths are now judges, principle secretaries, heads of commissions and CEOs of companies. They drive big cars, live in leafy suburbs, holiday abroad and have their children's fees in international schools paid for as part of their employment benefits. Even more painful, once you have taken the route of activism, you constantly pay the price as you are denied government jobs and opportunities you qualify for.

So, yes by all means we should call out those who have made activism a mere career and we should criticize those who are in it to enrich themselves at the expense of standing up for 'the least of these', but we should avoid the trap set by those who spread propaganda that modern day activists are no more than mercenaries feathering their own nests at the expense of the poor.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Echoes of Injustice

Gaza Ukraine Malaysian Air
Pain and tears here and there
Anger agony and despair
Echoes of injustice everywhere
Can anyone hope on a prayer?

Is there really anyone out there?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

My All in All

You found me merely living
And made me discover life
You found me a mere man
And turned me into a real human
You moved into my house
And transformed it into a home
You took hold of my dying heart
And made me into a living soul
You found me merely successful
And made me truly significant
Thank you my faithful Friend
For showing me beyond doubt
That you're more than a Jewish carpenter
You are Jesus the Christ
My Lord and my Savior
My All in All.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Saba Saba Ina Wanyewe! (Saba Saba Has Its Owners!)

Politicians should stop playing football with #SabaSaba Day. It is NOT their day. It is OUR day; it has always been our day.

Saba Saba 1991 marked the start of the first 'Kenyan Spring'. At a time when we could barely breathe a word without looking over our shoulders or have a birthday party without a licence, Kenyans dared to look the beast in the eye and say 'enough!'

They may have been led in this call by two brave Kenyans who also happened to be politicians, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia. But after the two leaders were whisked away to begin many months of detention without trial, it was ordinary Kenyans who deigned to tread where eagles dared.

It was ordinary Kenyans who bore the brunt of the bullets and the batons. It was ordinary Kenyans who choked on the teargas, who lost their lives, who buried their dead, but who nevertheless stood up and confronted the forces of tyranny. And it was ordinary Kenyans who spoke in no uncertain terms that day and told Moi 'thus far and no further.' Their stand led to the reintroduction of political pluralism and the first competitive elections in 1992.

On Saba Saba 1997, the second 'Kenyan Spring' dawned as Kenyans took a stand once more, this time demanding a say in the making of their new constitution as Moi insisted that only a Parliament that he dominated had the mandate to discuss the constitution, dismissively asking what 'Wanjiku' understood about constitution-making. But once again the voice of Wanjiku eventually  carried the day. However, as in the previous Saba Saba, many had to fall and we still have many walking wounded in our midst as a result of daring to speak truth to power in love, the price we have always had to pay for the freedoms we enjoy.

And so as we approach #SabaSaba 2014, let not the politicians mistake our silence for ignorance, or our calm for indifference. Let them not think that spreading rumours and propaganda about insecurity or Mungiki or Taliban or MRC will scare us and silence us into submission. But let them know that when these hard-won freedoms are threatened, we shall stand up and defend them. And we shall not do so for Raila Odinga or against Uhuru Kenyatta. We shall do so for ourselves and for the future of our children. We have always done so in the past, and we shall always do so in the future.

Amkeni Ndugu Zetu!