Rev. Dr. Charles Odira Kwanya during the Peace Building forum for the Members of Parliament towards a peaceful elections at Mombasa Continental beach resort, on the 9/05/2012
Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) are defined as actors that have a religious or faith core to their philosophy, membership, or programmatic approach.
It is noted that Kenya is host to various religious organizations that include Christianity, Islam, Hindu, African Traditional Religion and others. In their specific ways, all of them leave their mark on the Kenyan public sphere.
In this forum, I am asked to represent the Christian side, even though as religious people we stand for the same values and principles, consequently what we present is a representation of the collective FBOs in this forum.
Kenya is a theistic society
I would like to begin my humble presentation by emphasizing that Kenya is a theistic society, a fact well acknowledged and demonstrated in the supreme law of our land as follows: ‚ WE THE PEOPLE OF KENYA ACKNOWLEDGING THE SUPREMACY OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF ALL CREATION‚ . Note also the last three words of the same preamble of the new constitution, God‚ blessing is invoked explicitly and conspicuously in the words, GOD BLESS KENYA‚
Furthermore, Kenya is not just a theistic society it is a monotheistic society as is demonstrated in our national anthem (cf. Constitution chapter 8). ‚O God of all creation‚ is inclusive of the people of Kenya, the politicians of Kenya, faith groups in the republic of Kenya, the 42 or 43 ethnic communities of Kenya, and the resources of Kenya. The justice, peace and prosperity that we are looking for even as we prepare for the elections belong to God.
This is the God of the Christians, of the Muslims, of the Hindus, of the African Traditional Religious practitioners and other faiths hosted in Kenya. This is just a simple way of saying that we need the intervention of God in our pursuit for a sustainable peace in Kenya; and the role of FBOs often referred to as ‚ people of God‚ is indispensable.
So the Faith Based Organizations have the ‚ constitutional mandate and God given obligation and right to accompany the peace loving Kenyans into and through a peaceful election leading to a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Strategic role of the Faith Based Organization
It is the primary role of the FBOs to pray for a genuine and sustainable peace in our country. This could be achieved through organizing joint prayer meetings, sincere communal and individual prayers for our beloved country. These prayers should not be individual based but must have a National outlook; our prayers cannot be selfish and selective they should capture the whole interest of peace and prosperity of Kenya and the world at large. Praying for an individual to win in an election is not different from what the witch doctors do; they are paid to make individuals, suitable or unsuitable win. An egocentric prayer has no place in the face of God for God has no favorites. Our job is to prayer for good leaders and the rest we entrust to God who knows the hearts of men and women,
FBOs must promote and facilitate the spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness among different communities. They should not be part of the problem by remaining cocooned in their ethnic and religious gabions. There are no foreigners or strangers in the Church so it should facilitate the realization of inclusivity.
The FBOs must remain that prophetic voice of the voiceless, ready to challenge the public and secular leaders fearless without self interest. Besides, the religious leaders must always be non partisan even as they exercise their democratic right and other rights provided for by the constitution of Kenya. They are expected to rise above ethnic and party politics by virtue of their missionary nature; called to serve all.
Through their Churches, religious institutions, structures and competences FBOs are committed to educate the Kenyans on the qualities of good leaders and leadership (not on the choice of any particular candidate). For this reason, FBOs do not endorse any candidate; they do not have a Catholic, Muslim, or Angelical candidate. The FBOs are not political parties; they exercise their democratic right within the social and legal frame work provided in the Kenyan constitution as citizens.
As the conscience of the society, the FBOs are committed to demonstrate the spirit of unity in diversity through ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. The Christians in their diversity have joint forums where they share their Christian values for the common good of the nation. Different religious traditions hosted in Kenya do have joint forums and organizations sharing the same national and religious values.
FBOs expectation of Politicians (Parliamentarians)
To achieve a sustainable peace, FBOs expect cooperation and high level of integrity from the side of our current and prospective honorable Members of Parliament:
Negative ethnicity has been noted as the major contributor to violence and hatred among our communities. Interestingly, one would note that the violence is always experienced during the campaign and election periods and one may ask why? This is why the politicians are well placed to give an honest response to the public. They have the answer and certainly the solution.
It is important to realize that one of the greatest values of our country, in deed our wealth is the ethnic diversity; imagine a country with one single ethnic community! Any one of the 42 ethnic communities in Kenya can not stand alone; as Prof. John Mbiti says, I am because we are‚ together we make a nation called Kenya, unbeatable and strong. We often blame the colonial masters of having divided us along ethnic lines and now we are here paying the prize. Is it possible that our brothers and sisters in politics are using the same colonial tactics of divide and rule to exploit us? This would be shameful and unpatriotic.
Kenyans have noted with concern the ethnic groupings and regional campaigns in this period even before the official campaign time. The politicians are certainly engaging the out fashioned way of doing politics by manipulating their people for their political gain; sometimes doing jobs half way so that the other half is used for the next campaigns. In the past we have even seen electric poles delivered to places then soon after the elections they are withdrawn. Unfortunately, in Kenya, ethnic blood is stronger than the blood of reason, we forget so fast and this is the strength of the scrupulous politicians who would do anything to achieve what they want even at the expense of life.
People and national resources are used as objects of vote: no wonder when a man dies in a given constituency, the worry of our honorable politicians is not so much the loss of life but the loss of a vote or a voter. We have gone that low so as to reduce the dignity of our brothers and sisters to that level.
The Faith Based Organizations feel betrayed by the politicians who would not spare even the places of worship for their political campaigns. Sometimes the politicians are seen in places of worship only during the election period. A politician can be anything from a Muslim to a Christian at that time just to deliver their messages. A politician who does not respect the house of God is not God fearing and so can not protect and uphold the values of our supreme law that acknowledges the supremacy of the Almighty God. Only God fearing leaders can guide the Kenya into a lasting peace and prosperity.
Kenyans are watching as the politicians engage in the endless campaigns that run from one election period to the other without break. If I may ask, when do they deliver their colorful campaign promises? We cannot feed on promises and wishes at all. Utterances like, If I become the president of Kenya, I will construct for you roads‚ or ‚If you elect me I will resettle the IDPS‚ or ‚don’t elect the other person because there is nothing he can offer‚ all these promises and yet you are already serving and earning in the government, where is the sense and must you get an extra term in the government in order to deliver? Why not now?
Kenyans are watching as the politicians exchange insults publicly and calling each other names. Remember, your children are also watching, your wife/husband, brothers and sisters and they all laugh at you. We expect you to respect each other; you represent the dignity of the Kenyan people both nationally and internationally; your bitter open exchanges only fuel further bitter exchanges in our homes and communities. Remember, when you fight the Kenyans also fight, when you make peace, even if it is only apparent, the Kenyans feel secure and sought to live together in peace. You are public figures make yourself worth of your honorable status.
Kenya is our home, it belongs to all of us, we all have a collective and individual responsibility to protect and keep it homely. Let us join together for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya.
GOD BLESS KENYA