Last week, two contrasting events took place simultaneously in the capital: the National Prayer Breakfast and the anti-corruption demonstration under the hash tag, ‘Stop These Thieves’.
A friend was curious to know which of the two I would have attended given the opportunity. My initial response was the likelihood of an invitation to the prayer breakfast was extremely remote while street protests are always a source of energy, community and inspiration for me.
However, on further reflection, I had to acknowledge that Jesus spent a huge amount of his ministry eating and drinking with tax collectors, prostitutes and even politicians.
Many of his parables are about banquets, weddings and celebrations. His last supper is recorded in great detail by the evangelists. Jesus visited the rich and the poor with a message for each of them. In this way he comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. That was his ministry in a nutshell.
Would Jesus have been invited to the Prayer Breakfast if he were in the capital? Probably not but he might have sneaked in and taken a back seat with his friends.
What would he have made of the handshakes, the hugs and the mutual forgiveness? Jesus preached forgiveness at every opportunity, reminding his followers not to come to worship or to table until they made peace with their enemies. He may not have approved of the media circus around the public displays but he would have endorsed their actions.
However, he would most certainly have not missed the opportunity to ask what next after the handshakes? What about the destruction, killings and hatred that divided the nation? What about the contested outcome of the two elections?
What about the endemic corruption that has impoverished the nation and destroyed its morals and morale? Jesus too would have asked why they are feasting when Muslims are fasting, yet they call the event National – how inclusive is that?
The presence of Jesus taking the microphone would most certainly have resulted in the live broadcasts once again being switched off until order was restored and he ejected by the men in black and blue. There is little room for asking questions anymore. We are all bullied into celebrating the handshake even though no one can tell what it is about. Those gestures would appear to offer relief rather than resolution and so long accustomed to accept mediocrity from the political class we applaud profusely. Of course in the process we are celebrating the death of the opposition and the return de facto of the one party state.
There are signs that the war on corruption may be serious this time around. But when suspects are denied bail and the big fish remain comfortable doubts will persist. A few other matters also raise questions that must remind the government that the public will remain cautious and suspicious about events until they witness the sentencing of the architects of the mega corruption.
The Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) may produce momentary excitement about Kenya being an oil exporting nation but on further analysis the whole affair raises many questions. There appears no urgency about the transportation of the crude oil to Changamwe which will await sufficient quantities to make it feasible to export if and when a buyer is available.
Obviously the latest beneficiary of a government tender wants to roll. But when we’re informed that this transport company is registered in Guernsey one of the offshore British islands regularly associated with secretive accounts and bogus companies, then many will raise eyebrows.
This week the political elite have been tripping over each other to visit the ailing Chris Kirubi. To visit the sick is a Christian act of mercy. However, I am yet to hear any of the same gentlemen having anything to say about Mr Kirubi’s company Centum’s involvement in the Lamu Coal Plant to which another group of protesters took to the streets on World Environmental Day to object to.
Jesus might have made similar comments were he to attend the Prayer Breakfast. The church must ask those questions on his behalf if it is to be the conscience of the nation. Jesus might be happier on the streets but he would challenge protesters to be resilient, sincere, consistent and generous in their protests. Corruption has destroyed the soul of the nation. It will take a lot more than a few hundred protesters and handshakes to redeem it.