Archive for January 2010

The Horn of Africa Hotspot Radiation - Just a Dream?

Wednesday, 20 January, 2010 2:46

Blessed be The Name of Jesus Christ, The King of kings and Lord of lords, even over Kenya and Eastern Africa. I wish to pass a message to all Christians, which I believe is from The Lord (with all due respect to all who may disagree, and a humble apology to those I may offend). I’m no big preacher or renowned prophet…I’m a simple, ordinary Kenyan, in fact I’m a rather private and shy person. However, I would not want to repeat the mistake I made in February 2007 when I failed to alert fellow brethren of the dream warning I received, which was replayed in early 2008 ( see at the bottom).

This is why I beseech you to read this, then pray asking The Spirit of God who knows and reveals all things to guide you… do not ignore this without seeking God’s confirmation. He’s ALL Knowing and able to confirm that which He’s authored… and He exposes liars and false prophets. If you get a conviction in your heart, spread this email with urgency to other brethren and take action. We are all watchmen…appointed to alert others so that we may be saved from satan’s destructive plans.

On Thursday 7th January 2010, as I slept, I got a very vivid dream. I was shown the map of Africa. It had an odd shape as though parts of the Southern and West Africa were missing. Whereas the rest of Africa was dark green (like a rain forest) the eastern part was markedly different. The horn of Africa, the entire country of Somali was red hot. Next to it was Kenya, part of Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda all deep orange – the sunset orange that’s approaching color red. I seemed to be conversing with the person showing me the map. I first of all asked why parts of the Southern and West Africa seemed missing.

The map was then zoomed-in and to my surprise the previously missing parts were there but in pale green, a color making them invisible from a distance. It seemed like a color of peace, as though they were not really a part of Africa. I was then returned to Eastern Africa, I asked why Kenya and all the other countries were deep orange. I didn’t get a clear answer but I got a message within me that they are being infected by the Horn of Africa, and before long if we do not step up prayers to fully possess them for Christ, they will be as red hot as the Horn of Africa (Somalia).

I was deeply shaken when I woke up and a strong urgency to begin interceding for Kenya was roused. I was quickened to share this dream out with other believers (Kenyans, Ugandans, Tanzanias, Southern Sudanese, and all brethren with a burden for Africa) to rise urgently in serious prayer and intercession.

This dream found me outside the country and I’d planned that upon my return I’d draw the map I’d seen so that I could email it with this message. However, to my shock, I learnt of the violent riots that followed in Nairobi last Friday and that several bombs were found in the country…I could not wait any longer. I had to release this message urgently.

I was reminded of the dream I had on 24.2.2007… it seemed out of place at the time, and totally outrageous to share with anyone. I only related it to a few close people, perhaps less than 20 (I deeply regretted my actions and had to repent before God when the violent events unraveled in January 2008). When I woke up in the morning of 24.2.07, I immediately recorded the events of that dream in my dream book which is on my laps now.

This is what I wrote then: “On 24.2.07 night. Dreamt of bloodshed in Nairobi. Riots on roads and certain hooligans attacking villages and innocent people with sharp objects…a lot of blood… gangs in different parts of Nairobi and rural areas…someone dispatching vehicles and lorries to take people to safety… I move to a safe house…there are riot police everywhere and road blocks erected in some places to deal with violence…”

That was the dream I got with similar vividness and urgency as the one of 7.1.10. In February 2007, there was no hint of violence in Kenya, even the Mungiki violence had not peaked until May 2007. You must therefore understand why I was shy to share that dream… and knowing what happened in early 2008, you can well imagine how horrible and guilty I felt for keeping silent. If I didn’t know the full meaning of God’s forgiveness after repenting, I would never have released myself from my guilt. But I know God forgave me.

Brethren, this is a watchman’s trumpet alerting us of the enemy’s onslaught. I know God has posted several watchmen both mighty and simple, we are all messengers. Once an enemy gains a toe-hold, it will soon become a foot-hold, then a stronghold… we cannot let that happen. But thanks to Jesus and the precious powerful blood that He shed we can war in prayer (and not in the flesh or with physical arms) and reclaim that which has been lost.

In 2008 we prayed reactive/defensive prayers, when massive damage had already taken place… our country is yet to fully recover. But a greater enemy army is at hand...much more violent than imagined. We all leant from our past complacency, and we know that should anything happen to Kenya, we all lose regardless of our tribes or denominations. When Kenya goes into the hands of a violent man, so does Uganda, Tanzania, S.Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi…we all know the role Kenya plays economically, spiritually and politically as a gateway in this region.

Brethren, as kings and priests of the Lord, lets rise up in violent prayer, to protect and repossess the land that the Lord has given us, and to be messengers of peace to those who still don’t know Christ. We have a more precious home in heaven, but while we are here on earth, we must do our part to reign and conquer under Christ. Without prayer, the best army cannot save us and neither can the UN peace keeping force. Let us run to Mt Zion… and possess our possessions.

An appeal to our beloved church leaders: let’s lay aside our differences this time around and gather urgently to start praying …NOW. To the simple man and woman at home, do not belittle yourselves, don’t wait until a call is made, intercede with the simplest words you know…A minute of prayer by a multitude can make a big difference. To the seasoned intercessors…you know what to do. To fellow Christians outside Eastern Africa, a loss of any part of God’s Kingdom is a loss for Jesus, stand with us and intercede for us.



(I’ve omitted my identity deliberately…I’m a messenger. If you’ve read this full text, I’ve done my part)..

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Jamia Mosque Riots: The Bigger Picture

The following disturbing happenings

  • Widespread buying of properties by Somalis (from Somalia ) in Nairobi , Mombasa , Nakuru, isiolo, kajiado and other major towns. Areas around the Eastleigh Airbase, Wilson Airport , JKIA and even near statehouse a priority. In Eastleigh and South C it is actual ethnic cleansing(or is religious cleansing) through buyout of all properties (including a chiefs office and a market)This happens despite muted complaints from Kenyans warning of a takeover of their country by foreigners.
  • Internal security permanent secretary orders an audit of all properties owned by foreigners in Nairobi .
  • This is followed by complaints of disapproval from some Kenyan Somalis including a nation columnist former LSK chair Ahmednasir Abdulahi and among others Billow Kerrow, former Mandera West Mp arguing that the Somalis work very hard. (Which hard work is this that other Kenyans do not know about? Why have they refused to work hard in Somalia instead?) Their hardwork has even bought some Kenyans! Maajabu!
  • Reports that the insurgency in Somalia is financed by cheap, duty free sugar imported through Kismayu before finding its way through porous borders and corrupt and inept intelligence and security apparatus to Eastleigh and then to other parts of Kenya. Also included are clothes, elctronics, gun running, piracy, printing of fake currency poaching and other criminal activities.
  • John Allan Namu and Mohamed Ali demonstrates how goods are brought to Eastleigh from The mombasa port and the Eldoret Airport by foreigners through corrupt networks. KRA is unable to detect this. Eastleigh is the only place in Nairobi where KRA staffs enforcing ETR registers have been chased
  • Unearthing of a syndicate in Eastleigh printing fake Kenya IDs and passports
  • Reports of recruiting of young Kenyans and Somali refugees in madrassas and mosques in Eastleigh and Isiolo town to fight for Al Qaeda (or is Al Shabab) in Somalia .
  • Census results withheld after it emerges that the Somali population in Kenya has grown from about 900,000 persons to 2,200,000 persons since 1999, a massive 140%. Other comparable areas such as Pokot, Turkana, and Marsabit come nowhere near a tenth of that.
  • A rocket propelled grenade capable of bringing down a building found in Maua town and another in a Nakuru-bound bus.
  • Al Amin Kimathi and Sheikh Dor announcing a muslim takeover of the country in 20 years.
Friday the 15th of January 2010. On this day daylong rioting by islamic extremists protesting detention of suicide bomber trainer Sheikh Al Faisal from Jamaica . The first time in Kenyan history for protestors to carry guns which are used to kill a GSU officer. Some even carried a flag belonging to Al Qaeda associate Al Shabab group from Somalia .

It is thus apparent that we are our worst enemies. Where is our president when all this is happening? Which Kenya did he swear to defend? The highest integrity should not be that of the director of KACC but the heads of Immigration department and registration of Persons, KRA, Police Commissioner etc. Can the history and contacts of these leaders be thoroughly investigated?

For example: Who is Al Amin Kimanthi, Who is Sheikh Dor, Who is Abdullahi Abdi? Who are their parents? Who were their classmates?Has any one of them bought a Kenya ID and Passport?This is what will determine whether we will leave our children and our childrens children in the hands of Al shabab or in a free democratic country.

Once a country’s economy is taken over by foreigners who will not even integrate, we will have two states within one. A kamba will marry a Luo, a kikuyu marry a taita, A Luhya marry a Kalenjin etc. We drink in the same bars, go to same schools and churches, etc. But what of these Somalis whom we have allowed to buy our capital city.

Once the Alshabab is done with the TFG in their country, this is the second stop. Kenya is already under islamization through influx of Somalis (from Somalia ), buying of IDs and Passports, buying of land and control of economy through various criminal and illegal tactics. Who will save us? Kibaki? No way. Raila? No way. The citizenry will have to save itself.


We demand that the Army of Kenya take control of the border and checkpoints immediately and replace these APs and Kenya Police. We have just received shocking news that, 4,000,000 (four million) Somalis have crossed Kenyan border and are in Mombasa, Nairobi, Masai Land, Kisumu and are seeping like a bad smell deeper into the rural village communities in Kenya within the last one year.

The government must not only be worried of this cleric but also the Somalis who are entering Kenya in large numbers and buying not only the Masaais out of the Rift Valley but also turning Nairobi into a Somali city. Kajiado is filled with Somalis who run businesses who cannot express themselves in either English or Swahili. These are Al-Qaeda Fundamentalists imported to create chaos in Kenya and spoil the future of our children.

Kenya government must watch out on the Administration Police (APs) who are letting into Kenya Somalis through roadblocks, for example,on Dadaab and Garrisa roads on payment of $300 per person. All the 4,000,000 Somali that crossed the boarder illigally into Kenya must be weeded out of Kenya immediately. I am told this influx was allowed by the former Somali Police Chief who has a more bigger agenda to turn Kenya into Somali owned country through money coming from pirating as well as other dubious activities.

Somalis are put in senior security positions in Kenya: Police and Army by the government!

What do we expect to happen but to open gateways of the runaway kinsmen and to protect their political interests in the Leadership of Kenya from their failed country, Somalia ..

No wonder their bragging that the Muslims will rule Kenya next.

We are sitting on a powder keg as the government looks the other way!

Hey, this too must be brought to the attention of the World to step in immediately to bring this case to a halting stop.

We want an FBI interrogation, inspection and thorough investigation, all officials found involved with importation of these fundamentalists with the issuance of IDs must be got rid off, whether they belong to ODM or PNU. They are Kenyans enemies number one.

The Government and the Police must act now with urgency before a lot of debate takes a wrong direction from sobrierity. I am at a loss why the Minister for Foreign Affairs have not spoken......

Wananchi along with Prof. Saitoti must work hand in hand within an urgency framework, to get rid of this fundamentalists foreigners off the Kenyan Soil if the Government of Kibaki is playing dilly dally.......they must not be given one more day.......let the debate continue when they are already out of the Country.

Any one with slightest move like the drama we have just seen must be acted upon immediately.

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Francis Tome: Society must cull sex deviant teachers

By virtue of their profession, society has placed much trust in teachers. They are expected to inspire freedom of thought and expression and a rigorous pursuit of knowledge among pupils. In such a crucible, ideas are supposed to be wrought. Indeed each and every one of us is a proud product of teachers. The environment within which knowledge was churned gave each of us an equal opportunity to shine according to his or her gifts. However, this enabling environment has since then drastically changed.

There have been unfortunate reports that some students have been sexually assaulted, touched inappropriately or courted in suggestive manner by their teachers. It is also worrying that the cases so far reported may just be a tip of the ice berg given that many offenders are not reported because their targets do not want to alert their parents or relevant authorities. This trend spells doom for the children as well as the society bearing in mind that the children`s chances of achievement in life is seriously compromised from the first minute they set foot in the classrooms of these perverts.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has had to suspend, dismiss and even deregister such pedophiles in accordance with the code of regulations. The fact that there has been an increase in the number of teachers found guilty of misconduct should be seen as an encouraging sign that TSC has detection systems in place which are having an effect.

It must be noted albeit sadly that any occupation with children as its clientele will attract a proportion of people who are predators or simply morally weak. And, since these people do not have permanent tattoos on their foreheads, detection and prevention mechanisms will never be 100% effective. Hence, reports that TSC has tolerated endless deviance from sex pests are inaccurate. The day the mainstream media reports that no teachers have been interdicted, suspended, dismissed and even deregistered is the day the country should truly be worried!

Having said that, I must quickly add that there is genuine concern that the punishment meted to pedophiles by TSC is not deterrent enough. In my considered opinion such teachers ought not to be disciplined by TSC alone. After dispensing with them, TSC should then haul such offenders before the courts of law to be culled.

However, in calling for stiffer penalties, it must be understood that there are two sides for every story. So until and unless the claims have been corroborated beyond any reasonable doubt, it would be naïve for anyone to expect TSC to hastily take punitive measures (other than an interdiction pending investigations) against any of its employees. We have seen quite a number of teachers terribly suffer from false accusations.

Moreover, suffice to say that it hurts the lot of the over 240,000 teachers who are doing excellent work when the public and the mainstream media make unfortunate generalizations about teachers in entirety. Such ill informed comments will only serve the purpose of demoralizing the many diligent teachers.

We must accept the fact that individuals roused by pubescent desires are not only a preserve of the teaching profession. They are everywhere. We have seen priests, policemen, doctors, lawyers, businessmen among others. Rather than engage in selective criminalization, it is time that the Government and all stakeholders came up with far reaching policies to stamp out this malady in the society.

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Francis Tome: Please, not another flight to political incineration

Judging by what transpired in a political rally in Kipkelion this week, it seems as though the maverick brigade that presided over that rally is determined to once more put this country on a flight to political incineration.

Otherwise why would they be so much interested in taking the nation back to the painful memories of the post election violence?

Their incessant and callous talk about incited youths having killed, raped and maimed in the name of the Prime Minister does not augur well with the conscientious public that is reeling from horrendous post election violence. This brunt of politics is brutally dishonest and only serves to expose the brigade`s comprehensive incompetence.

It must be made abundantly clear to them that they cannot hope to gather public goodwill to propel them to the helm of this country`s political leadership in 2012 through such unfortunate emotional trickery. We have not forgotten that some among this servile brigade are today obsessed with misusing “truth and reconciliation" to evade justice. Some among them are probably fully responsible for the multiple debacles currently going on in the country.

The least we expect from them is remorse and for them to spearhead a genuine healing campaign. However, it appears as though hubris has defeated caution once again. We are again witnessing parochial politicians traversing this country on a mission to magnify distrust among the people of this nation. Do they think that Kenyans are too benighted to understand what is good for them!

I expected that since some among them have already declared their presidential ambitions, they would be prudent enough to preoccupy themselves with selling their vision to the electorate. Instead, it appears to me that their ambition to presidency is hinged on their venomous hatred against the PM and by extension other ethnic groups that seem to be gravitating towards the PM. Hatred alone can never be reason for one to seek the presidency of this country. The worst mistake that the electorate can do is to allow such an individual to take the mantle of leadership of this country. Rather than divine healing, expect revenge. Expect discrimination against certain individuals and ethnic groups in the country. Consequently, there would be skirmishes upon skirmishes ad infinitum.

It is also totally absurd they are squandering a tremendous opportunity of advancing their political ideology by using threats to try to buttress bovine obedience from a section of MPs from Rift Valley Province who are supposedly not in their camp. Inciting voters against a popularly elected leader just because he does not champion one`s political cause is a very shameful act.

Finally, it is pathetic for any elected leader to spend his every waking hour trying to get even with the PM instead of dispensing services to Kenyans. Such obsession will only make them dither and dither and finally self destruct themselves.

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Francis Tome: Absence of guiding and counseling in schools portends disaster

The public relies entirely on teachers and educational institutions to provide the basis for a fully functional society. Schools have therefore to constantly grapple with providing for a diversity of cultures and learning styles. The physical, social and emotional needs of students have to be effectively addressed. These accelerating social and cultural dynamics within the educational system continue to have a huge impact on the working lives of teachers. Amid all these changes, the parents` “magic touch” on the lives of their children has increasingly become a missing link. Once parents literally damp their children in school; they heave a sigh of relief and from there on they become absentee parents.

Even after schools close for the vacations, parents will hastily arrange for their children to be enrolled in various private centers offering holiday tuition thus limiting the chance of spending quality time with their children. They mistakenly think that more classroom instruction would some how make up for their absence. This behavior is observed in both boarding and day schools. In day schools for instance, there is not much time for the children after the parent(s) arrive home from work. They are tired, and therefore the homework and other concerns of the child are often neglected or done in haste.

This is trend is obviously doing a great disservice to our youth. Given that they will be the future of this nation, many of them will be ill prepared for the real world of work, bills, and household duties and responsibilities because of a poor education and poor role models. What parents and teachers fail to understand is that classroom instruction is just but a piece of a jig saw puzzle in the provision of a holistic education.

As for teachers, very few of them have received essential skills in guiding and counseling. A look at the education courses offered in the leading public universities and primary teacher colleges reveal that the graduates in education do not take guiding and counseling as a core course. This means that when they are absorbed as teachers in schools, the child is no doubt expected to struggle alone to find a footing amid the numerous vulnerabilities. Indiscipline and the resultant underperformance in examinations cannot be avoided in such an environment.

Cognizant of this challenge the government must quickly come up with a tailored programme that will see to it that all teachers are trained in guiding and counseling so that they can in turn reverse this trend and encourage parental involvement. This will be the first step towards creating a more positive attitude towards teaching and learning. In so doing, teachers, parents and students will ultimately be helped in achieving their goals of a top quality education without unnecessary distractions such as excessive indiscipline. Some diligent teachers are already going back to universities and other colleges to horn their skills, but most of them are struggling with families and high costs of living and cannot therefore afford this essential course.

Suffice it to say that no amount of policy reforms in education will effectively work without first addressing the component of guiding and counseling in schools. The Government should therefore commit itself to putting proper money and time into training the existing teaching workforce in both primary and secondary schools in guiding and counseling. It should partner with universities and primary teacher colleges to offer this course through school based programmes that can be offered in selected centers countrywide.

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Francis Tome: PSC`s procedural cynicism is catalytic of the country`s constitutional imbroglio

A couple of weeks ago, I was satisfied with the fact that the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitution (PSC) regarded with great respect the guaranteed constitutional rights of the electorate. However, going by what is transpiring in the Naivasha grand retreat, I have now modified my position, changing it so slightly so that "satisfied" becomes "dissatisfied," which is just a difference of three letters, but of course with a gulf between them.

In its hurry towards the thrill of a “breakthrough” it has left the public in a catatonic stupor. PSC is exhibiting its arrogance and malfeasance by brazenly frittering away the draft constitution. We have seen it arrogate itself the power to determine the number of MPS that this country needs. (I am informed that PSC is wagging hopeful on a figure of 325!). It is also ominously aiding the miscarriage of article 35, to mention but a few. Shifting attention to that which is beyond its mandate is exactly what is making the public gripe about.

Given that it has allowed political fiefdoms to hold it at ransom, it would have been difficult for it not to dither. That is why it is not surprising that after the counterfactual discussions and concessions it has come up with a Hobson’s choice; a pure presidential system of governance. That is democracy- the PSC style.

Whereas I have no qualms with those who support the pure presidential system, I feel that an equally large section of the electorate has been terribly disenfranchised by being denied the constitutional right to vote for a pure parliamentary system. It would be naïve of the PSC to try to buttress bovine obedience in the electorate when it is very clear that their over- the- counter prescription is unconstitutional. It smacks of dictatorship.

According to the constitution, national sovereignty belongs to the people; not a 26 member PSC. Not even to the 222 members of parliament! Under the principle of universal suffrage, the constitution gives the electorate the right to exercise their political will in periodic elections and referenda.

Therefore, in order to avoid this unfortunate disenfranchisement, parliament should vouch for a “Yes- Yes” referendum. This will ensure that either a parliamentary or presidential system of government is adopted by the country depending on the outcome of the referendum. This will of course mean that parliament amends the Constitution of Kenya Review Act, 2008 to allow IIEC to present two draft constitutions to the electorate; the pure presidential or pure parliamentary systems of Government.

The argument that presenting two draft constitutions to the electorate would paralyze the country flies in the face of logic. A referendum, whether based on a single issue or multiple issues is not a wedding ceremony. Acrimony and even paralysis is not unexpected. However, the worst form of crime is the deliberate disenfranchisement of a section of the electorate. This will create a perfect flight to this country`s incineration. We must refuse to be made the butts of PSC`s procedural cynicism. Neither should we allow it to leaven its strategy of gerrymandering. It is now time that the conscientious public repudiated their PSC`s actions.

What pray thee will happen if we fail to garner the necessary threshold on a single draft that would have been subjected to the much awaited referendum? It would mean that we head to the 2012 polls without a new constitution. It would mean another round of an acrimonious election. We must avoid this pitfall at all costs. We can't get this halfway right or three-quarters of the way right. We have to get this really, really right. Unless this is urgently and meticulously done, I have no doubt in my mind that the unsuccessful decades long constitutional imbroglio will persist. We must as a country learn from the 2005 referendum.

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Francis Tome: Hon. Wamalwa and the art of spinning tales that are an abyss of mystery

With 2012 nigh, the electorate should expect many a politician to spin tales that are an abyss of mystery even to a seasoned psychologist. In fact, I do not think that there will be an appropriate scale available with which to weigh absurdity in Kenya`s political theatre.

Already politicians have begun spinning strange tales to the electorate to win their favor. Never mind whether such tales are invalid, illegitimate or absolutely meaningless. One such politician scrambling into this political gravy train is honorable Eugene Wamalwa.

Not only has he joined the rank and file of those who have placed their faith in creative imagination rather than reason, but he has also fast and furiously outdone the rest. You see, it is understandable for him to discard gentility and embrace opportunism in a bid to remain afloat rather than risk going to the bottom with his burning political ambitions and principles hanging around his neck. Nonetheless, his modus operandi to State House is hilarious as it is wanting. As part of his scheme to endear himself to the electorate; he dresses, walks, talks and even smiles like his late brother. But more importantly, he now wants to inherit a political pact ostensibly made between his late brother and the incumbent as his most valuable ticket to state house! And therein lies the rib cracking humor.

It is hilarious for a person of his stature to entertain the notion that he is his late brother`s heir apparent. (Perhaps, it is time the electorate demanded to see the last will and testament of his late brother. It would be interesting to see whether such a claim is part of the will or is codicil). The will and testament aside, I can bet with certainty that the much hyped pact is not binding to the electorate. For if it were then it would presuppose an end to democracy!

It is with this in mind that I have to be brutally honest with him. I wish to remind him that such rhetoric is likely to ruin his reputation. But I am also not oblivious to the fact that one has a democratic right to talk himself out of reputation. As one among the few youthful politicians whom the electorate thought to be a transformational leader, I am surprised that he is unaware of the fact that the Kenyan electorate is itching to break out once and for all from the discredited straight-jacket of the past.

He must therefore know that no amount of cajolery nor seduction can eradicate the deep burning hatred that Kenyans have developed against political pacts and ethnic liaisons. The electorate will view anyone with such vile intentions to be as “intelligent” as one who thinks that hanging the baby on the clothes line to dry rather than changing the diapers, is a worthy innovation..

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Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki's biography: A Voice Unstilled

In this second part of the serialisation of Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki's biography, A Voice Unstilled, read about how the retired clergyman confronted the issue of celibacy

Up to this day, there is nothing that pains Ndingi more than the willful violation of priestly vows and the failure or refusal of those who cannot keep on with the priestly vow of celibacy to seek dispensation in the normal, accepted ways.

On many occasions, Ndingi spoke about this issue at length. At every priestly ordination, he exhorted the priests to uphold the vow of celibacy and live up to their calling as the Lord's servants.

It is a personal burden that is light if we take the adequate means to protect it," he told a congregation at a priestly ordination at Tangaza College on November 28,1992. "We see its beauty in prayer. It is the pearl of great price that we have found."

Ndingi believed and still does, that celibacy was possible even in the most outrageously difficult circumstances. But he also acknowledged that a celibate life is for the brave few, "for those who can accept, for those who can lead a disciplined life." A key component to leading a fullsome celibate life was prayer.

This is something he affirmed repeatedly when he met priests or delivered homilies at their ordination, "We cannot serve God and the world," he told priests at the Hekima Jesuit School of Theology on February 17,1993. "If we look back once our hands are on the plough we are not fit for the Kingdom, for the mission entrusted to us, for the call we have answered."

Yet the Archbishop believed that even those priests who were not able to keep up with their priestly vows were in need of help not condemnation. But before help was offered, he demanded honesty and forthrightness among those who genuinely sought it.

"A priest," Ndingi once told an audience of rectors, "remains human and is beset by temptations like any other Christian. A priest is liable to fail and to fail badly?' But this does not mean that he does not have a vocation. "St Peter," he stressed, "was not removed from among the 12 after he denied Christ One who is obviously trying to respond to God's love is to be encouraged."

Many priests are forever appreciative of the help they got from Ndingi. Fr Kanja says, "Ndingi was especially helpful to those priests whose vocations were threatened and sought help from him. He never condemned. He tried to help."

But what he could not countenance were priests who refused to acknowledge that they had a problem or did not attempt to seek help for it. He stressed continually the need for church leaders to listen to those in need of guidance.

Before priests can be ordained, proper choices must be made, vocations must be nurtured in the correct way and the major seminaries must inculcate values in the seminarians which would enable them lead celibate lives as per the requirements of the Church.

"When there is doubt about a candidate's suitability, he should be advised and helped to find his vocation in the world," he told a meeting of vocation promoters in Nairobi on October 24,1993. But a candidate thus advised should never be made to feel rejected or useless. Every assistance, he urged, should be given to make them adapt to their new environment.

Only the best and mature priests in the diocese should be entrusted with the pro-motion of vocations, those whose lives mirrored the life of Christ. He thus expected his priests to set a good example to those they led. Though he never voiced it publicly he expected priests in the Nairobi Archdiocese to always wear their clerical collar as was the custom in Nakuru. Though it was not a hard and fast rule, the donning of the collar was, to him a testimony to one's pride as a servant of the Lord.

In his first days as Archbishop of Nairobi, many priests admit thinking that they were offending to the archbishop if they appeared before him without the clerical collar. They later got used to the idea that their bishop was more concerned about how they lived their priestly life and carried out their pastoral duties than what they wore.

While addressing a seminar for rectors and spiritual directors of Eastern and Southem Africa at St Thomas Senior Seminary in Langata on July 28,1989, Ndingi stressed the need for priests not to set themselves apart from the communities they serve by way of dress, titles or living facilities, saying this may be a hinderance to their work.

But he also acknowledged that there is a subtly calculated, maybe diabolical, tendency to secularise the priest Too often, too many priests who have succumbed to the trend have become "one of the lads" in dress and recreation and overall behaviour. Thus, his belief has been that the priest's attire must befit their priestly office and purpose, even on their off days.

The priest by tradition is a "signum ek-vatum" (elevated sign), a beacon to beckon others to follow safely on. If the sign that should stand out is lowered and no longer seen, then it has failed in its purpose. The young Church in Africa needs priests - an authentic few committed to Christ and his values rather than a shiftless many who bend to every permissive breeze and are grateful to be "with it".

Priests, he insisted, must remain priests all the way. But what, even as he entered the last decade of his episcopate, saddened him was that some priests did not want to be priests in that sense of totality. "Some have already succumbed to a level of compromise between sacred pledge and sad performance," he says, "they want to be priestly, not sana (very much) but kidogo tu (just a little) as if there ever was a 'no-man's land' between the commitment Christ demands and the compromise man commends."

Yet, he was always appreciative of the fact that priests also led a difficult life in their efforts to uphold their vows. He was especially sensitive to anything that threatened priestly celibacy but those who ever had an opportunity to lay bare their lives to their bishop recall that Ndingi was always supportive.

He tried to help them in the best way he could, sometimes even transferring them to far away places just to separate them from the women threatening their priestly life.

In the early 1990s, Father Peter Mbuchi, an up-and-coming, young intelligent priest, was stationed in Nakuru Diocese. Mbuchi had had his measure of problems since his seminary days.

He was a seminarian in Nyeri when he was accused of leading a strike in the seminary and he was expelled. But some of the priests there had faith in him and still believed he would make a good priest.

His spiritual adviser, Fr Remigio Dalsanto, believed that a young man endowed with exemplary talents should not be let go off the seminary because of an infraction he probably had never intended. There was only one bishop he knew who could be willing to listen to the young man and even offer him a chance. He called up Ndingi in Nakuru and explained the situation.

"Let me see the young man," he told Fr Dalsanto, even though a letter sent by the rector had already damned Mbuchi to almost irredeemable levels.

Arriving in Nakuru one morning, Mbuchi met the bishop. For close to an hour, Ndingi listened to Mbuchi. Somehow he was struck by the young man's sincerity and determination to become a priest. "This is my candidate," he heard him say.

From then onwards, Mbuchi became a seminarian in the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. After being accepted back, Mbuchi wrote Ndingi a letter expressing his gratitude "Sooner or later," he wrote, "you will realise that I am not the kind of person you have been told I am."

From then onwards, Ndingi and Mbuchi were one. "I believed my personality and his danced to each other," Mbuchi was later to say. When Mbuchi became a priest, the chemistry between him and Ndingi continued to flourish. Mbuchi found himself undertaking tasks that required full trust of the bishop. When Ndingi wanted something done, he sent for Mbuchi. When he wanted to replace white missionaries with Africans, he always sent Mbuchi to take over.

In many ways, Mbuchi was able to execute Ndingi's will and plans almost faultlessly. Ndingi thought he had found his man in Mbuchi. He trusted him fully and saw him as his son to the extent that the other priests thought that Ndingi favoured him.

So much did Ndingi trust Mbuchi that in 1986 he made him a representative of all the diocese priests in Moshi at the General Assembly and 25-year anniversary of AMECEA. In Mbuchi's own words, "the bishop had fantasies about what I would become. He saw me as his spiritual son, as someone to whom he would pass the mantle." Yet, much as he trusted the priest, Ndingi was afraid to let Mbuchi know how he felt about him even as he told everyone else what a wonderful priest Mbuchi was.

At one point, he wanted Mbuchi to go to America to study sociology. But Mbuchi was too in love with his work and was not ready to go. Instead, the bishop sent Fr Patrick Kanja. Fr Mbuchi was, however, to find himself in some inauspicious circumstances. In the course of his work, he met a nun with whom some intimacy developed. The nun was in charge of schools in the area that Mbuchi was administering. The relationship blossomed and in 1990, the nun got pregnant with Mbuchi's child.

When Ndingi came to know of it, he sent for the priest and they discussed the matter openly.

Mbuchi told the bishop that he wanted to quit priesthood on account of what had happened.

"Why?" the bishop asked in consternation. "Because of the relationship?"

Clearly, Ndingi did not know the whole truth. Then Mbuchi dropped what he thought was a bombshell: "You see," he told him, "the lady is heavy with my child."

Ndingi looked up as he is wont to when in deep thought He looked at the priest and said, "Yes, you have done wrong. But you are not the first one to fall into that kind of problem. You are still a priest"

The two continued debating the issue. According to Mbuchi, Ndingi talked to him as only a father would, in many ways, he believed that the Church should not be denied the services of such a priest because of the sins of the flesh.

Soon after, Mbuchi took some time off to spend 30 days interrogating his soul in an exercise called Ignitian Exercises (named after St Ignatius). The exercises were conducted under Fr Cecily Mc-Garry SJ, Mbuchi's spiritual adviser.

He spent the days reading the book of Job. Perhaps equating his tribulations with those of Job.

Afterwards, Ndingi, determined to save Mbuchi's priesthood sent him to a remote parish in Mombasa where he had to work with very difficult missionary priests. But despite these efforts the relationship between Fr Mbuchi and the nun continued.

Ndingi, who had thought that Mbuchi would forget her, got to know that the relationship was continuing. He had a perfect intelligence network. Ndingi had maintained a close relationship with the masses and with his priests. He would drop by a convent here and a parish there. That is how he got to know that Fr Mbuchi had not broken off the relationship.

He called him for a chat and encouraged him to leave the woman and continue with his vocation.

He could see the will in the priest yet there was a weakness that prevented him from acting. Ndingi hoped to act on that weakness and eventually prevail over the priest

Later Mbuchi went to America to create distance between himself and the nun while lending her support.

But none of that was working. Defeated, Mbuchi felt he had to quit "There was no way I was going to abandon that lady" he says. "I felt the Church expected me to reject her and the child" Ndingi still believed that Mbuchi should not quit

Even after Mbuchi wrote to the Vatican explaining his circumstances, the bishop advised him not to send the letter. When Mbuchi finally wrote to the Vatican asking to be laicized, Ndingi felt betrayed.

Ndingi's position on celibacy was quite strong. While he would encourage priests to rise above temptations, there were some things he was unequivocal on: "Priests who have fathered children should never be allowed to live a double life. It is either celibacy or family but not both," he maintained.

His insistence that Mbuchi go on with his ministry was therefore a contradiction. But it showed how much he believed in Mbuchi, his transgressions notwithstanding.

Upon Mbuchi's decision to leave the ministry, Ndingi underwent a period of turmoil. Those who worked with him say, "It was as though something died in him," recalls Fr Mirango, "as though he had lost a son."

On February 19, 1994 Ndingi wrote a heart-rending letter to Mbuchi expressing his regret at his leaving the priesthood.

Dear Peter,

It is with deep regret and sadness that I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 8th February, 1994. I have read your letter and I see the unfortunate decision you have reached to leave priesthood. With effect from the moment you receive this letter, you cease to practise your priesthood except as stated in Can. 976.

The obligation for celibacy remains until such time as laicization is requested and dispensation granted. I take this opportunity to assure you of my continued prayers and will always be available to assist you in any way I can.

On February 23,1994, Ndingi wrote to all the parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, all Kenya Catholic bishops and the Apostolic pro-Nuncio informing them that Fr Mbuchi "had decided to resign from the priestly ministry"

At the time Ndingi was writing this letter, he had seemingly given up on saving Mbuchi's priesthood. A number of letters had been exchanged between the priest and his Ordinary and despite Ndingi's best efforts, Mbuchi had decided to leave.

In his letter to Rome asking for laicization, Mbuchi stated that "for over six years I have been tormented by the conflict between the official teaching of the Catholic Church on the priesthood and my own experience as a sexually active person."

He went on to say that after parenting two children and having always preached responsible parenthood and against discrimination and suffering of children and single mothers, "I feel it a requirement of guilt shame or fear."

I felt that I should not preach water and drink wine. I have therefore publicly accepted my parenthood and wish to identify myself with these children and their mother, Mary Gertrude Kasiva, without remorse, guilt, shame or fear."

Even as he left the priesthood, Mbuchi wrote one last letter to Ndingi, lamenting a few incidents when he felt let down by the Ordinary but acknowledging that the bishop was "an honest man who would never intentionally say or do anything to hurt another person"

The letter was personal in nature but it also underscored the kind of relationship that Ndingi had with his priests, even those with whom they differed fundamentally. Like Mbuchi, they acknowledged the "atmosphere of openness" in which the bishop sought to ferret out matters.

Mbuchi was eventually granted laicization after 13 years of priesthood and left the Church in 1994. He married Mary Gertrude Kasiva at Mwangaza Spiritual Jesuit House on December 31, 1999 at a low-key ceremony presided over by his spiritual adviser, Fr McGarry.

Ndingi was evidently in agony after this. Had he invested too much in Mbuchi? Couldn't his ministry have been saved? Ndingi believed that celibacy should not be used to deny the Church the services of such priests. Ndingi still beheves in his heart that Mbuchi is still a priest even though he left the Church.

The case of Mbuchi revealed a man who was fiercely loyal to the Church but who, at the same time, was still rooted to his African roots.

Ndingi's initial refusal to let Mbuchi go, his frantic efforts to save his priesthood and his perorations about the need to uphold celibacy and the importance of waking up and walking when one stumbled upon the hurdles of one's vocation, reveals a man who not only deeply cared about his priests but who also felt that African priests were operating in peculiar circumstances.

In his reign in Nairobi, he accepted back a priest who went to the USA to study but failed to return after his studies. One day Ndingi was shocked to receive a call from the priest. "If I came back, would you agree to see me?" the priest asked.

"Come back and see me," he told him.

"Will you accept me back?" he sought assurance.

"Just come and see me. I'm your bishop and father."

The priest came back and after he listened to him, Ndingi accepted him into the archdiocese and posted him to a parish in the eastern deanary. As this book was being written, the priest was happily carrying out his pastoral duties at a parish in the Nairobi Archdiocese.

Ndingi was a firm believer, as the Mbuchi case amply demonstrates, that the Church must harness priests. In fact, he wrote a letter to the Nuncio on November 28,1983 outlining the possible causes why diocesan priests were leaving the ministry and offering suggestions to help the Church ring-fence them.

"It is so hurting to see a good priest and who is sincerely seeking help from those who should give it getting turned down. Is it better to keep a priest who is not happy in his own diocese and eventually see him leave the ministry or is it better to let him transfer and keep happy and in the ministry. If this option was or is given, there are some priests who would have remained in their ministry", he said.

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Archbishop Ndingi Mwana Nzeki Biography: Ndingi's plan that saw 'bui bui' clad Maathai beat tight police cordon

Archbishop Ndingi found like-minded allies in the person of Maina Kiai, who was to become the chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights at the turn of the decade and Prof Wangari Maathai, who was later to be awarded the Nobel Prize for her fight against social injustice.

Prof Maathai, the environmentalist-cum politician, was one of the most vocal politicians at the time and one who was constantly in the government's bad books. The government could not condone any occasion where Prof Maathai was present or where she was addressing people. Her pairing up with Ndingi was particularly seen as hair-raising and the government constantly kept her in check.

On March 3,1993, there was a meeting to discuss the rehabilitation of the displaced people at the hall of Christ the King Cathedral in Nakuru and Prof Maathai was invited.

The embassies of Canada, Germany and Netherlands had also sent representatives to give views
on how best to resettle the people. There were many people gathered at the gate of the cathedral.

As the bishop and the professor walked from the bishop's office to the cathedral, they were met
by an astonishing sight.

The cathedral had been cordoned off. There were General Service Unit (GSU) and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) personnel all around. The police were fully armed, "as if they were at war" and they were stopping people from entering the compound. Priests were required to identify themselves before they could be allowed entry into their church. Though they put up a strong resistance, the police were not in any mood to compromise. They stopped the meeting but the publicity it gained was more than enough to arouse the sensibilities of the nation as to what was going on in the Rift Valley.

Wangari's crusade did not have the benefit of awe and fear as that of the bishop. She was a marked person in a way that the bishop was not. The bishop, however, lent her every kind of support. Her relentless battle with the government had started a little earlier when she mounted a serious campaign against the construction of Kenya Times Tower (KIT) in Uhuru Park.

Wangari's view was that the construction of the complex would ruin the city and turn it into a concrete jungle. Almost single handedly, she waged a war against the development, drawing the anger and earning quite a number of enemies but also admirers.

Members of the ruling party, Kanu, were never comfortable with her. They railed, and threatened her so many times that she was in constant fear for her life; she was constantly in need of protection.

Together with another crusader, Fr Ndikaru wa Teresia who had also waged an environmental crusade against a company called Kel Chemicals in Thika, they were people on the run.

Kel Chemicals was emitting harmful gases into the environment; endangering the lives of those living in the surrounding.

In 1992, Wangari was at the peak of her crusade. This was also the time that her life was totally threatened. She was followed everywhere and was never sure of where she would be the following day. Where could she hide from the seeming omnipresence of security people? As they say, it is in the middle of danger that those who are threatened find the best refuge.
Ndingi even though a marked man, arranged to house Wangari.

How Maathai teamed up with Ndingi to fight for the rights of victims of ethnic cleansing in R. Valley

On March 2,1993, he arranged with Fr Ndikaru wa Teresia and Fr Francis Mirango to assist the professor go into hiding in Nakuru. This was a risky and almost impossible mission. Every one knew Wangari and the route to Nakuru was full of roadblocks.

Besides, Fr Ndikaru himself was also a marked man. But this was a time to take risks and it was better to try out the mission than wait and get caught unawares.

Fr Ndikaru was to meet Wangari at Uthiru, 10 kilometres from the city. The location was ideal because the place was teeming with people. No one seemed to notice a sickly looking lady, dejected to the core, wearing a buibui and gazing into nothingness as if she had lost all hope of living. Those who saw her must have dismissed her as another Somali lady probably looking for her kin in the densely populated and cosmopolitan suburb.

Fr Ndikaru arrived at 9.35am. The scrawny lady recognised the white Toyota Corolla car, registration KAA 203G and ambled towards it. She opened the door and got onto the back, slumping down like a patient. The car started off at a steady speed. No suspicions aroused, it got onto the highway and started the 140 kilometre journey to Nakuru.

At Kamandura-Limuru road, they came across the first road block. The car slowed down, the police peered in and saw a Somali lady. They waved the vehicle on. The next road-block was at Delamere in Naivasha. The police were not interested in a ragged looking man wearing a cap and a Somali lady seated at the back. They probably thought it was a taxi, so they waved it on.

But in Gilgil, tougher luck was awaiting them. The people manning the road-block were not regular police but GSU personnel. These would be more difficult to fool than the others. They waved down the vehicle. At this point the occupants of the vehicle said a prayer in Kikuyu, "Mwathani utugitire na utuiguire tha" (God protect us and have mercy on us).

"Where are you going?" a burly GSU man asked in a rude and abrasive voice, all the time training his eyes into the vehicle and the figure slumped at the back. Fr Ndikaru thought that the officer would recognise Wangari and his heart raced with terror.

He was cold and full of fear. "I have never felt that kind of fear in my life," he was to later say. He was nearly responding when the officer cut in; "Kwani Mama ni Mgonjwa?" (Is the old lady sick?) "Eee ni mgonjwa sana" (yes, she is very sick). It was a holy lie and "God would forgive me," Fr Ndikaru recalled.

"Haya basi kimbia haraka umpeleke hospitali pale Gilgil (then hurry and take her to hospital in Gilgil).

"That was the Holy Spirit at work," Fr Ndikaru told Maathai who also could not see it any other way.

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A Voice Unstilled: Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki: Bishop who took on a brutal regime over Rift Valley killings

Fearless Catholic Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki' tells His story with the first installment of his new biography, A Voice Unstilled: Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki'.

F or people residing in some parts of the Rift Valley, the period 1991-1992 was a time of living dangerously. At that time ethnic clashes had broken out around Kipkelion, Olenguruoni, Molo and some parts of Bomet.

The government preferred calling them land clashes, attempting to convince the masses that what was happening there was just simple clashes but there was more than met the eye. Houses were being torched and people were being killed senselessly.

Neighbour was rising against neighbour and communities where people had lived peacefully for years became veritable tinder boxes, hi spite of this, the government still wanted people to believe that the clashes were about land. In fact, the term tribal clashes disappeared from the media and the softer 'land-clashes" became the denning term for the atrocity happening in the Rift Valley. It was largely seen as a Kikuyu-Kalenjin affair where two tribes had turned against each other with dreadful consequences.

Two things made this conundrum puzzling. First, it was coming at a time when the clamour for multipartyism was at its peak Kami's hegemony, as a political party that had ruled the country since independence, was being fiercely challenged by a rabid opposition. The supporters of Forum for Restoration of Democracy (Ford) were mainly Luos, Luhyas and Kikuyus and some of them lived in Rift Valley. To ensure that they did not vote, they had to be uprooted from the province.

Police protection

Second, there was what was seen as government lethargy in dealing with the problem. When the clashes first broke out, the government did nothing to stop them, hi some cases it was claimed that the raiders were receiving police protection and even as the fighting continued no one was getting arrested for the atrocity. Some believed that ethnic-cleansing was at work.

As the atrocity continued, the allegations that some of those actively involved were members of Kami, were rife. In just five days, 20,000 people had been displaced and were now gathered in open areas requesting intervention from the government.

On the Sunday morning of November 3,1991, a group of armed raiders invaded farms belonging to non-Kalenjins in Kokwet, Chepkechei and Mtaragon areas, set houses ablaze, shot people with arrows and raped women. Consequently, the displaced families ran away and sought refuge at a nearby school, leaving their farms at the mercy of raiders and looters.

Sitting in the bishopric house in Nakuru, Ndingi received the news with shock A number of priests, stunned at what they had seen, took the bishop through the entire episode, giving him a blow by blow account of what had happened. Desperation, anger and helplessness permeated the atmosphere. Ndingi reclined in his seat and listened much more carefully.

The priests who knew him well also knew that he usually acted on his feet when a burning issue was brought to his attention.

But on this morning, he just sat dazed and listened like one in a trance. Then he took out his pen and started jotting. As the moral disgust of the entire problem receded in Ndingi's mind, its political and historical contours became visible.

"Something has to be done," he told one of the priests,"we must make the whole world aware of the goings on. The Church must play its role."

Unbeknown to the priests, Ndingi's statement that "something has to be done" was the start of a long and bruising moral crusade against what was to clearly emerge as one of the biggest crimes against humanity to be committed in that part of the country.

Catholic priests

That very day, the Catholic priests of Nakuru Diocese crafted a strongly worded statement on the clashes, calling on the government to protect the lives and property of the communities living in the Rift Valley.

"These are people who acquired their land legally and are ready to be issued with title deeds...their future is now unclear to them. Though they have been promised security and a return to their land they feel- that this guarantee is too little; too late," the statement read.
The priests wondered if the government was trying to balkanise the nation. "The torching of houses and property appear to have been carefully planned and orchestrated.

In Kunyak, eyewitnesses stated that Kami officials were actively involved...there is no doubt that these events have caused great damage to trust and confidence among different ethnic groups.
Is this majimboism in action?"

The statement was endorsed by Ndingi as the bishop. It did not, however, make the screaming headlines that other stories from Ndingi had previously done. Still, it was a handy warning shot and a declaration that the Catholic Church was not about to take a backseat while people were dying and their houses being burnt.

The clashes had now spread to areas bordering Kisumu, affecting three dioceses: Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret. The bishops of the three dioceses, Archbishop Zacheaus Okoth of Kisumu, Ndingi and Cornelius Korir of Eldoret, Archbishop John Njenga of Mombasa, John Njue of Embu and Father Ndikaru wa Teresia, the editor of Mwananchi magazine got together and visited the affected areas. They were horrified at what they saw.

Hordes of people walking along the God-forsaken roads of Olenguruoni and Molo, stunned them.

Dead bodies were strewn on the road and warriors armed with arrows were spoiling for war.

They saw cows, mooing with the pain of un-milked udders; heard the agonised bleat of goats which, like their human owners, had been displaced from the familiarity of their pens; saw lost children crying for their parents, some unaware that their parents had been killed or seriously wounded and they saw the charred remains of what used to be peaceful homes; the scorched expanses of what used to be fecund earth. They beheld the unrepentant, bloodthirsty faces of the killers of Molo.

The picture was horrifying. Bishop Njue could not contain himself and he shed tears. Njue, was so enraged that, as those who were there recall, it was difficult to know if the tears were out of pain or anger.

Amidst sobs, he took out his camera and took some pictures of the warriors armed with arrows. He had underestimated the tempestuous nature of the moment because at that point, some young men approached them menacingly.

"Why did you take our pictures?" one of them asked.

Brandishing pangas, they demanded that the bishop gives them the camera. Bishop Njue hesitated and the men closed in.

Sensing serious trouble, Ndingi implored Njue to acquiesce.

"Let's not cause a commotion by taking photos," Ndingi pleaded with a frustrated Njue. "These people can even kill us."

They took the camera and unspooled the film, then furiously stomped on it.

Archbishop Njenga recalls seeing planes dropping arrows in the area, which were then hastily collected by the locals. For some time, he thought he was wrong but it dawned on him that the situation was not as it had been reported in the media. People were not fully aware of what was going on in the Rift Valley.

Land clashes

The whole issue had been made to look like a case of simple land clashes between warring tribes. But there was more to it. This was a war by one heavily backed set of people against another unarmed, hapless lot. It was a war full of fire and rage and in many ways, devoid of sense.
After this scaring episode, the bishops continued with their fact-finding mission. At one point they met an old woman on the road and stopped the car.

"Where are you going?" Njenga asked the old, haggard and scared woman. "I don't know?" she replied.

The bishops consulted and decided to take the woman in their car. They went all the way to Olenguruoni parish where they left the woman under the care of the parish priest.

"We as pastors must speak out," they proclaimed, quoting the book of Luke (19:40) "I tell you, if these keep silent the stones will cry out."

Getting back to the Kenya Catholic Secretariat, they crafted a statement challenging the government to break its silence and bring the clashes to an end. Then they cobbled together a collection of other bishops from other denominations with the intention of seeking an appointment with the president.

In Nairobi, they called the Head of the Civil Service, Prof Philip Mbithi, and asked him to arrange an appointment for them to see the president. Prof Mbithi was reluctant, probably sensing that the bishops were up to their rabble-rousing activities again. "If we do not see the president
today, we will demonstrate at the Holy Family Basilica tomorrow," they told him.

Mbithi realised that things were serious and that the clerics perhaps meant every word they said. He hastily organised a meeting for the bishops. All the ecumenical bishops met the president at State House that day at six in the evening. The meeting, Njenga recalls, was tense.

After Archbishop Okoth read the statement prepared by the bishops, Archbishop Njenga addressed the president. "Your Excellency, people are dying, we saw planes dropping arrows in the area and the situation is serious."

Moi hit the roof. "Bishop Njenga, I think you are exaggerating," he thundered. "The pilots you are referring to are Kikuyus. How can they drop arrows that would kill their people?" he asked.

"Your Excellency, given money they will do anything, even if they are Kikuyus."

Things were hotting up. The meeting was tense. The bishops were angry. The president was also annoyed at the audacity of the bishops. Silence descended on the room; no one wanted to speak and no one knew who would speak next and what they would say. The president fixed his gaze on the bishops.

All of a sudden one of the bishops rose to speak. He began to thank the president for the good deeds he had done for the country, pouring profuse praise on the Head of State.

"Your Excellency, I came here to thank you for the help you have given my church," one bishop said, "we have been able to do a lot with your generous contributions."

Another one would thank the president for helping his son get a scholarship and suddenly a few others chimed in with praises and panegyrics.

The whole course of the meeting changed. Moi sat there enjoying the whole drama and the sudden move some of the bishops had made to change the course of the entire conversation.

What had been, only a few minutes ago, a matter of grave national and public concern, was turned into a circus of praises. The Catholic bishops were seemingly isolated as the others chanted praises for the president and ignored the topic for which they had sought an appointment.

Needless to say, when the meeting ended, some of the bishops were assailed by a fierce sense of betrayal, a feeling that the meeting they had so painstakingly sought and issued threats over had miserably failed.

Perhaps unbeknown to some of the bishops was that the coterie of bishops was divided down the middle. There were those who were fierce loyalists and there were those who were genuinely searching for justice. The former are the ones who changed the course of the conversation.

Ndingi was crestfallen. He felt betrayed by some of his colleagues and as they left State House, he was almost in tears. He knew then that nothing would be done, that the president had not taken them seriously and that the appointment had come to nought.

In the following three months, the clashes continued. A litany of anguish and woes loomed large across a section of the kaleidoscope of Rift Valley.

Kamwaura area in Molo experienced some of the most vicious clashes with a hundred houses belonging to non-Kalenjins razed. About 2,000 homeless and displaced people sought refuge in St John and Paul churches in Kamwaura. Eight of them were killed.

In Elburgon area, 46 houses were burnt on March 16,1992, while during the same period, a group of about thirty youngsters from the Kalenjin community started burning houses belonging to the non-Kalenjins. They were doing this while guarded by elders armed with bows and arrows. Over fifty houses were torched.

On March 18, some houses were burned in Njoro area, some primary schools were shut down and several people were killed in an area called Larmudiac, near Egerton University.

Charged meeting

Sensing that the clashes were not about to abate, Ndingi gathered his priests for a meeting, the charged meeting, statistics on the death and suffering of the people of Rift Valley were put on the table.

On the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19,1992, the priests and the bishop, once again released a statement expressing concern at the killings and destruction of property and just fell short of blaming the government for the violence.

"Our analysis leads us to conclude that there is reluctance among our political leaders to contain the situation and this reluctance depicts a certain lack of confidence in those empowered to guide and protect us."

The government was sending no help to the many victims strewn all over church compounds in the area. To make matters worse, no government officials visited the area.

Ndingi felt that matters were reaching intolerable levels and decided to take on the government personally, once again.

He released a statement, this time written and signed by himself as the Bishop of the Diocese of Nakuru, squarely blaming the government for the clashes:

How is it that, after so many assurances by the president that people can live anywhere and own property anywhere people continue to get displaced? As recently as 13th February, 1992, the president had assured people that anyone burning houses would be punished but houses continue to burn in Eldoret today and any policeman on duty in these clash torn areas who tries to defend the innocent and shoots or kills an attacker is transferred. How is it that nobody has been prosecuted for burning houses or shooting people with arrows? Our conclusion is that the government of Kenya - Kanu government is behind the clashes.

Those killed

This was followed by a documentation of all those killed and the places where the atrocities were committed.

The government did not do much in the way of exonerating itself. Around that time, the clamour for multiparty democracy had reached fever-pitch with the main opposition party, Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) presenting Kanu with its toughest challenge yet.

The Kanu diehards continued threatening those who were seen to oppose Kanu or embrace the opposition.

"Those who do not sing the Kami song," a Kanu politician proclaimed in public on February 27,1992, ''will be chased away"

By this time, Cardinal Otunga was getting increasingly wary of the situation. The government never really worried about him as the politicians knew him to be an extremely guarded clergyman who eschewed controversy. Whether they ignored him or just kept him at arms length was sometimes hard to tell. His manner contrasted sharply with that of Ndingi and other senior clergymen who were known to fly off the handle whenever they sensed injustice. The government sometimes praised him for his silence and sobriety.

But this time, the cardinal too could not keep quiet. On January 24,1991, he invited Ndingi to his house in Nairobi.

He was in a pensive mood and he went straight to the point. After voicing his distress at what was happening in the Rift Valley, he told the bishop: "We must do something to defend the people."

© Waithaka Waihenya & Fr Ndikaru wa Teresia 2009, Published by Sasa Sema, an Imprint of Longhorn. Available at leading bookshops countrywide. Price: Sh500

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Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki Biography: A glimpse into the life of a pioneer priest

By Tom Odhiambo

The biography of retired Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki probably would never have come at a better moment.

Caught in the crosshairs of the politicians' threats and innuendoes about 2012, the country is in a moral conundrum. And maybe, the story of the 'little boy" from Mwala in Ukambani who became a pioneer African priest, bishop and archbishop will provide some inspiration.

Ndingi's journey to priesthood can best be summed up as a journey of trials and tribulations that saw him attend seminaries run by no-nonsense rector-fathers in Kenya and Tanzania. Ndingi persevered through the hardship but not by simply conforming.

He would challenge authority whenever he felt that those in administration were a bit too hard on the seminarians. It is this streak, the ability to stand up to authority which actually marked Ndingi out and probably defines his life in the service of the church.

Colonial rule

Ndingi joined the church when the country was still under colonial rule and even the Church hierarchy was largely white. Racial tension between white priests and their black counterparts formed part of his early experiences. The biography notes many instances when Ndingi would put his foot down and confront white priests whose pronouncements and actions towards black priests like Ndingi were racial and condescending.

For Ndingi and the early African priests the challenge of starting life as celibate men was both personal and communal. Their communities frowned on the idea of unmarried adult men yet the Church demanded selfless service to God. This conundrum remains with the Church up to now as recent debates in the media attest. The question of celibacy has been at the foundation of the Church for many years.

The writers of the biography detail a case of a priest who had a relationship with a nun when he was serving under Archbishop Ndingi. The bishop still thought of the fallen priest as a child of God who needed to be treated with compassion.

His time as the bishop of the Nakuru Diocese was probably the most trying; what with the monster of ethnic clashes that broke out in the early 1990s in Rift Valley.

Many battles that Ndingi fought and won, on behalf of his congregation, Christianity and Kenyans in general are well documented by the two biographers.

Many questions

Yet many questions shadow the biography. For instance, why he was never made a cardinal (though an explanation is offered by the biographers); his position on the 2005 Constitutional Referendum and his mellowing in the face of a corrupt Narc government will deny the cake its icing. We hope that maybe one day the good old archbishop will "tell his own story"; and that we shall then have some answers to the lingering questions.

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Maitha Mugucu: The more things change..the more they remain the same!

At the current pace, a referendum, new constitution, a complete review of constituency boundaries and new constituencies before end of 2010 or 2012, is a mere pipe-dream. Kenyan legislators did not know what they were up against, when they passed the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill 2008 en-masse.

With the disbanding of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (E.C.K), two bodies were formed: namely, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC). The two bodies major tasks were: compilation of a new voter register, carrying out a referendum for a new constitution, conducting elections, drawing up administrative, constituencies and local authorities boundaries and creating(by way of proposals to Parliament); districts, constituencies and local authorities (electoral areas).

One of the urgent tasks was delivery of a new constitution by June this year. Key blocks stand in the way of this process: One, the personnel that will be recruited and in particular the Secretariat staff which actually does the spade work, will have no prior experience in carrying out a referendum.

In Kenya there is no other body that has been carrying elections where a pool of experienced and trained personnel can be sourced. Giving electoral greenhorns such a mammoth responsibility is simply courting disaster. They will not have the capacity, unless we source the manpower from Electoral Commissions of other countries.

Two, politicians are still divided on what type of constitution is suitable for Kenya. Is it parliamentary or presidential system? Majimbo; based on tribes or administrative regions? The list is endless. Before these political persuasions are addressed and harmonized, a draft constitution to be subjected to a referendum cannot be achieved in the next eighteen months (the life span of these interim bodies). And as the politicians drag their feet, the 2012 Elections will be beckoning. Eventually, interest in a new constitution will wane to be replaced by angling and jostling for strategic positions for the 2012 General Elections.

Three, mass voter registration is mandatory as the voter register with 14 million voters, was invalidated by the disbandment of E.C.K. For the referendum to pass the credibility test, the registered voters should be more than 15 million. This represents at least 50% Kenya’s population of over 30 million. Achieving such a registration threshold cannot happen this year or next! But if we must have the referendum in 2010 with a new voter register, then the Constitution will be decided by a paltry minority; a sad scenario indeed. Participation by all or majority of Kenyans during the referendum should be of paramount importance if not mandatory!

Four, before registration of the envisaged magnitude is contemplated or implemented, the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) must first complete its work. The tragedy is in thinking that the two bodies can work simultaneously. Absolutely not! Re-drawing (harmonizing) administrative and electoral boundaries and creating new constituencies and electoral areas, will necessitate change of the current registration codes; namely constituency, local authority and polling station numbers. The same changes will have to be effected in the computer software that will be used to compile the registers, which is a lengthy process. If voters are registered before constituency and local authorities boundaries are established, some voters will find themselves with invalid voter cards having been ‘misplaced’ due to re-drawn boundaries or change of registration codes. Registers and voter cards will have to be amended to reflect the correct particulars of the voter; which will be voter registration all over again and a waste of time and scarce resources!

The Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission(IIBRC) mandated with drawing of boundaries, creation of new districts, constituencies and local authorities, faces a plethora of almost insurmountable gridlocks which cannot be solved in the next one or two years. The current constitution does not allow for more than 210 constituencies. For new constituencies to be in place, the relevant constitutional clause has to be amended. When will this happen and what will be the maximum? What if the Commission proposes more than the stipulated number?

Political interest will feature quite prominently in determining the number of constituencies, where to create them and where the boundaries will lie. Most politicians will be looking at how all these will be of advantage to them in the 2012 General Elections and if the politician(s) will not be satisfied and this is one of the mostly likely factors that will stall the process of creating new constituencies. Also there are ongoing boundaries conflicts across Kenya, where administrative, ancestral and electoral boundaries conflict. These differences cannot be solved overnight. Worse too, during the re-drawing and creating of new electoral areas, more conflicts will crop-up and old rivalries will be ignited either by ancestral/tribal or political interests. Once again, the process will be bogged down. 2012 is too close for completion of such a complicated and tedious process.

It still begs the question why the two institutions were mandated with such sensitive, mammoth and onerous tasks on an interim basis. They should be permanent to instill a sense of belonging and thus dedication in those who are engaged by them. Alternatively, they will keep on asking for extensions to complete their assignments. But folks, brace yourselves for 2012 elections under the current constitution and constituencies!

Maitha Mugucu.

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The Star Corridors of Power Political Gossip

What is it about the planned Simama Kenya rally in Bungoma that is generating so much heat? Local politicians are divided on whether the rally should go on with some even threatening to disrupt it. We are told, however, some people are planning to hijack the function and make it look like part of the Kikuyu Kalenjin and Kamba alliance.

Did the Coast MPs give a bouncing cheque to the Coast Investment Forum? We are told the forum which is organising a major meeting in Mombasa this month is now stranded after the MPs failed to provide Sh500,000 cash equated to the cheque as they had promised recently.

Officers in the Ministry of Justice have for the second time disregarded directives from their Permanent Secretary. The PS seems to be issuing instructions which no senior or junior staff adheres to. The latest is a directive to Human Resource department of the ministry to advertise the position of a director of a commission under the ministry. We have information that they have ignored the PS, who first issued similar instructions two months ago and his deputy dismissed her.

Constituents of Amagoro are unhappy with their MP Sospeter Ojaamong. They claim since the man was appointed Assistant Minister for Labour he has not only gone mute but has also stayed away from the constituency. They accuse him of not attending functions including funerals as much as he used to. Even those who used to be close to him now claim that the man has avoided going to his rural home for reasons best known to him.

A top journalist received unexpected honours, during a weekend function held at the home of an ambassador to Kenya, when an Asian businessman mistook him for Information minister Samuel Poghisio. The tycoon walked humbly and sat at the same table with the "minister" and started thanking him for appointing his wife as a board member of a key parastatal under his ministry. The businessman went ahead and introduced the journalist to the ambassador and other dignitaries as "the very humble minister of information." The tycoon further called his wife and passed the phone to the journalist to speak with his wife. Playing along, the journalist was paid many glorious compliments by the businessman's wife before being invited for dinner whenever available.

The behaviour of a senior public relations officer who is associated with a top level politician has baffled both his friends and enemies. The man, considered by many as very arrogant, has formed the habit of enlisting a female colleague to foreign trips whenever the boss is travelling outside the country. The officer then gets the perfect opportunity to make merry with the female colleague.

All is not well at the National Campaign Against Drugs Authority headquarters at the NSSF building. We are told that some of the staff members have now resulted to alcoholism as a stress reliever-talk of preaching water and taking wine. The source of their stress is said to be from a senior official whom the staff accuse of not only being too high handed but also very tribal.

The wife of a city-based MP has now hired a private investigator to pursue his husband whom she suspects is cheating on her. The woman is said to have paid millions of shillings to the investigators to trail the MP. Recently an investigator followed the MP into the gents of a five star hotel in the city to listen to a telephone conversation the legislator was having with an unknown fellow.

He may cut an image of a man who is doing well politically and in his private life but this flamboyant MP from the Coast seems to be in constant trouble with the women in his life. He has been married twice before and has broken two engagements with the latest one coming a few weeks ago. The man, known to be vocal, is apparently planning to announce to those who care that he is once again an eligible bachelor. This, according to those close to him will happen on February 26, when the ODM MP marks his 30-something birthday. Cards are already out and attendance will be by invitation only at his palatial Nyali home.

We hear that certain leaders of camps belongings to IDPs have suddenly become wealthy. Corridors of Power has it that their wealth is the result of contact with key politicians trying to evade the post-election violence justice and rallying victims into silence even through intimidation.

Coast MPs will never cease to surprise. One of them spent three nights in a kaya (holy shrine) between Kilifi and Mnazini in Tana River last week, in the company of four Mijikenda wazees in a special ritual aimed at maintaining his political relevance. The occasion, according to our mole, got the MP in unfamiliar territory, having to stay naked deep in the forest, to achieve his 2010 goals! The MP, who is a first-timer in Parliament, is now observing "strict" instructions. He has been directed to wear — at all times for the next two weeks — a special thin waist band laced with traditional charms including extracts from specific roots and plants.

There has been a lot debate on the Internet about last Friday's protest at the Jamia Mosque. Those involved are trading accusations about who was involved and why the demonstration should have been allowed. One thing that is however interesting from the various forums is the fact that some Muslims turned against fellow Muslims while some people mobilised non-Muslims to raid the mosque.

Is there trouble brewing at the National Environment Management Agency? We are told that Environment minister John Michuki has effected changes at the board but some former members are questioning his powers to appoint a new chairman. They argue that it is only the President who can appoint the chairman of the board.

Is there a problem with Kanu's forthcoming elections? We are told that some party members are not keen on holding grassroots elections because "no one wants to take responsibility for anything". According to its constitution, the party is supposed to hold national elections this year but those in the know tell us that those elections may not even taken place.

A senior member of the Cabinet from Central province, who cut a deal with a Dubai-based firm to employ jobless youth, is in panic mode. His worries follow reports that the youth, who were to be employed in a railway company in the fast growing Asian city, have been turned into slaves. The man, who is keen to ensure the story does not see the light of day in the local media, has quietly and frantically been making arrangements to return the young "slaves" back home.

Has Internal Security minister George Saitoti blocked the contractor working on the Kitengela-Namanga road from expanding a section of the road? We are told that people close to the minister have told the contractor to find a way to divert the road even though one of the properties associated with him is on a road reserve.

Is it true that Al Shabaab militia group has issued fresh threats to the government? Some diplomats were overheard discussing that the Somali insurgent group had warned the government that it is about to launch some attacks targeting border towns in northern Kenya because of swoops on their nationals the police have carried out across the country.

A CEO of a prominent agency in the Office of the President was slapped and escaped with a black eye after crashing into a party and engaging the hosts in an altercation two weeks ago. Those who witnessed the exchange described it as "ugly and embarrassing" because some of the words that were uttered in the quarrel were unprintable. Because of her demeaning actions, we are now informed that the CEO has been giving varying explanations for the injury.

We are informed that the police-Nacada road safety campaign in December was to involve placing accident cars at 16 spots in the city. The man who was hired to do the job ended up displaying three accident cars only and those who gave him the contract are wondering what happened to the rest of the cars.

Tourism minister Najib Balala has been making frantic efforts to reconcile with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Our mole, an associate of the minister, tells us that two previous attempts to meet the PM have not succeeded. Balala, we are told, has lined up a group of elders to help reconcile him with Raila.

The decision by former Kiambaa MP Njenga Karume and some Gema leaders to pay Prime Minister Raila Odinga a courtesy call last year did not go down well with some Central province leaders. We are told by those in the know that the unhappy lot has been waging a war quietly against anyone they think is starting to support Raila.

A CEO of a prominent parastatal in the Coast is in trouble with his PNU bosses in Nairobi. The CEO has fallen out with his masters because of his decision not to employ the minister's relatives and reward his cronies. The CEO was apparently summoned to Nairobi early this week to explain his decisions. It is reported that his masters got even angrier because the CEO stood his ground. Now his juniors are worried the man could be sacked.

Yesterday, we told you of a Nacada-police deal on road safety campaign, where three instead of 16 accident cars were used in the campaign. We are aware that the man behind the deal was a State House operative during the Narc administration and a close ally of a former Finance minister. Corridors of Power has now learnt that one of the companies involved belonged to a journalist, who prints a Central Kenya newsletter.

Who is supplying bottled water that MPs drink in Parliament? We are told that a key member of the Parliamentary Service Commission has been awarded a tender to supply the water, through his company. He used his influence in PSC to kick out the previous supplier, a former prominent member of the commission. Talk of conflict of interest!

A top journalist with a leading media house was kicked out of his house for constantly beating his wife late in the night. Our mole has told us that neighbours lost patience with the top talk show host and asked the landlord to give him marching orders. Corridors has learnt that the wife-battering journalist now has a new home. It is only a matter of time before his neighbours discover his ways.

Is it true that the Americans have issued a new travel advisory to their citizens? Some diplomatic contacts tell us following demonstrations by Muslims eight days ago, the American Embassy in Nairobi immediately issued a travel advisory warning American citizens to be careful. The advisory reportedly named government and private installations that terrorists have targeted. Professor George Saitoti would it not be wise for you to say something about this rumour that is doing the rounds and causing fear among Kenyans?

What is going on at Kemri? We are told that the board has been unable to find a chief executive for reasons that no one is explaining to the staff. Even those who have acted in the position do not seem to fully comprehend the goings on, only blaming what is happening on politics. Now, the board has once again adver-ised the position despite having done so and even shortlisting people before.

The procurement staff of a parastatal based at NSSF are complaining that their CEO has been bulldozing the awarding of tenders for supplies of various items to one company that is sometimes not even qualified to supply the goods. Of interest is one company associated with a political operative which is always single sourced and staff are now wondering why Public Procurement Oversight Authority has remained silent on the issue despite several complaints.

We are told that African countries have decided to back the Bethwel Kiplagat Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission as a way of helping resolve Kenya's problems. Those in the know tell us that the Africans stepped in because the Europeans and Americans have described too many conditions before they can help the commission. Talk of African leaders walking the talk for once!

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Jerry Okungu: City demo exposed our security lapse - The Star

No, those were not Muslims who rioted in Nairobi for eight good hours eight days ago.

It was not even Kenyan Somalis who went to Jamia Mosque armed with dangerous weapons and Al Shabaab flags to taunt Kenyans.

Those were foreign radicals, rebels without a cause that came to Kenya to spread the culture of violence that they have perfected in lawless Mogadishu.

Talking to many friends including those from Somalia, I got this impression that no sane person could condone, let alone support, the senseless demonstration in support of an illegal alien, a confessed hate preacher that no country, including his own country of birth Jamaica, wants to associate with.

That is why the citizens are yet to come to terms with Kenyan-born Muslims who masquerade as human rights activists and preachers who have gone on record to threaten the government following the riot of Friday last week.

I support the right to association, assembly and worship and even to demonstrate for a cause.

And I have taken part in many demonstrations right from my university days.

More often than not, demos will take a violent turn. The government always sees ill intentions in civilian demos.

The first reaction in most cases is to either deny such groups the permit or break up the demo by force if the order is defied.

It is therefore an accepted fact that anyone joining a demo — whether it is university students, lecturers' body or teachers union — risks injury or even death. You therefore cannot hold an illegal demo, turn violent and even shoot at the police and expect to be compensated for a lost leg, arm or even life.

What happened in Nairobi was a shame to Kenyans and the government. It was impossible to believe that just a handful of youths could paralyse the city centre for eight hours without the police dispersing them.

It was even comical to see the police resorting to throwing stones at the rioters instead of using teargas, water cannon and the good old rungus that Kenyatta-era GSU used on us during our university days.

Let us face it. Nairobi is East Africa's most important commercial city. The whole region depends on it. International agencies depend on it even to reach lawless Somalia.

Disrupting its operations and allowing terrorist insurgents to infiltrate it is an act of recklessness of the highest order.

It is the kind of negligence that many governments have been punished for over and over in recent history.

Can you imagine a group of Christian fundamentalists holding a violent demonstration in Tripoli, Baghdad or even lawless Mogadishu?

Christians would not even think of demonstrating in Mogadishu because that would be suicidal.

There would be a massacre at the hands of religious zealots.

However, if the Nairobi incident occurred in the centre of Kampala, Addis Ababa or Kigali, that area would have been cordoned off and a military operation would have taken place with dire consequences for the demonstrators.

More importantly, the Jamia Mosque would today be a security area or worse still, the mosque would have been brought down.

These ugly developments did not take place because this is Kenya where we value peace and human rights.

The Al Shabaab militias can kidnap our nuns, take our military vehicles into Somalia but we will never either demonstrate or threaten Somalia with dire consequences.

We behave as if the only people who matter are a certain tribe and a certain religion. Others can go to hell.

Here, an Al Shabaab militant or a Mungiki thug can kill a policeman. When it happens, we — the so-called human rights activists — never raise a finger or a voice.

However, when some deranged priest smuggles himself on our shores, then all hell breaks loose.

Our citizens working in Arab countries have no rights. A poor girl can be thrown from the top floor, break her limbs and the remains brought to Nairobi without a protest either from our human rights activists or the government.

What are we showing the rest of East Africans with this open tolerance for violent groups that we don't need? Why are we allowing terrorists, radicals and fundamentalists to buy property with abandon using illicit money? Aren't we courting disaster in broad daylight?

In many countries, the Nairobi incident would have seen heads rolling if not a whole government coming down. But this is Kenya. Nothing moves us here, not even the senseless death of a good policeman!

The writer is a media consultant.

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Glenys Kinnock: Constitution is still acid test for Kenya - The Star

When I came back to Kenya last week, I was again reminded of the enormous strengths of this country and its people. I knew that Kenyans hoped for and deserved a bright future.

But by the time that I flew home I was left in no doubt just how important the constitutional review was to that future. Why? Because people told me how a new constitution could change their lives.

Every Kenyan I met — from the women in Nairobi Women's Hospital who were subject to appalling gender-based violence after the election to the youths caught up in that violence and now working towards community reconciliation in Mathare — told me how a new constitution would help deliver the stability that they so desperately desire.

They spoke with understanding and passion about the need to bring resources closer to all people in Kenya, to spread the concentration of political power so that everyone will benefit regardless of who wins an election and to provide vital checks and balances that will improve governance and accountability in the country.

Alongside electoral, police and judicial reform, a new constitution would be a fundamental cornerstone for their security. It would help return Kenyans to the long-term path of development and prosperity.

Nobody wants to see a return to the violence of 2007/8 when more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 people were displaced.

I heard during my visit that the process towards a referendum on the constitution is on track.

Clearly there remain divisions over particular issues which must be resolved. But I was encouraged by the sentiment from politicians and citizens alike of the need to achieve a consensus on a draft that would enable Kenya to put in place a constitutional framework to address the underlying causes of its recent instability.

The Committee of Experts' revised draft, including the provisions for a ground-breaking bill of rights, does seek to address these causes. They have clearly had a tough job in harmonising previous drafts and taking into account many different views. While they cannot of course reflect everyone's views, they have gone about their job responsibly, sensitively and of course added real expertise.

The revised draft is now in the hands of the Parliamentary Select Committee to reach agreement before going back to the experts and then to the people. I trust that the political representatives will be able to harness the desire for a new constitution and reach consensus.

Whatever the final system — presidential, parliamentary or a mixture (and all can work) — the key is that it should be designed in the long term interests of the country and its people, not the short term interests of political leaders. Because ultimately this will not be a document that belongs to politicians: it will belong to the people.

Abraham L incoln said it best when he spoke of government of the people, for the people, by the people. Which is why I was heartened to see that there was so much interest and debate on the constitution by Kenyans.

Kofi Annan identified during his visit in December a twelve month window of opportunity for Kenya to implement reforms agreed in the National Accord. As I said repeatedly to leaders and members of the public here last week, I do fear for Kenya if key reforms are not put in place and impunity is left unchecked.

This is why I trust that the public commitments made by the President and Prime Minister can help build consensus and support around the final draft that emerges. Because they know, that this is a truly historic moment in Kenya's history.

There is a clear responsibility on Kenya's political elite. But it they are able to bring about a new constitution that checks executive power, allows democratic space to grow and lessens the risks of a return to violence, then Kenya will once again be setting an example for the region and the rest of the world.

But it is also a moment for the people of Kenya to decide what it is that they want in their constitution. Every Kenyan deserves a constitution that transcends past rivalries and narrow differences. The past cannot be changed, but if the people of Kenya and their politicians come together and agree a new constitution soon then they have a chance to transform their future for the better.

Baroness Glenys Kinnock is the UK Minister for Africa.

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