Don’t make a mistake that will trouble Kenya for long

Barack Muluka.

As a Christian gentleman, I have often been fascinated by the magical realism and poetic power of the creation story in the book of Genesis. As we recall, genesis is about origins. The book is, accordingly, about the Christian understanding of all origins. Magical realism is, of course, a portrait of the world with elements of magic and fantasy. We nonetheless believe it, because of its setting. Hence, there is the sheer magic of God saying, “Let there be light.” And there is light.   

We are walked through a catalogue of items that are willed into existence. Through sheer divine reflection and edict, things are made from nothing. The most significant moment for humankind comes with text outstanding in its poetic idiom, substance, cadence and magical realism, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 

The text concludes, “So God created mankind in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.” This is magical realism and prosodic virtuosity at their combined apogee. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it,” the text concludes.  

Christendom understands that this is what God willed and wills, as recorded in Genesis 1: 26 – 31. This message is reinforced at Genesis 5: 1 – 2, where it says, “When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them ‘mankind’ when they were created.” Note the repetitions for emphasis, not across the texts, but within each, too.   

Now, quite often, you will also come across the individual who is saying, “Wait a minute, God. You made a mistake! I don’t like this idea that I should be made in your image. I prefer a cow.”

It does not matter that the Genesis text ends with the words, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” No. This individual says, “God, you are so wrong! Mine is not just the image of a cow. I am a cow, like it or not.”  

Characters of this kind are uncomfortable with the divine edict to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts of the earth. They prefer, instead, to be in the same order, or even family, with the beasts.

Nowhere is this more manifest than in politics in Africa, and especially in Kenya. We crave to go on all fours. And yes, everywhere you go, you are a cow. One member of the National Assembly infamously said on the floor of the House, they listen, obey and follow like cows.   

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo is coming to terms with this reality, in the wake of refusing to be a cow, on the vexed Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill. Otiende and Siaya Senator James Orengo have, alongside a few others, pointed out fatal flaws in the Bill. They have pushed for amendment in Parliament, but they have been told the Constitution does not allow. And Otiende has been sacked from JLAC vice chairmanship. Never mind that nowhere does the Constitution, even suggestively, deny Parliament the authority to amend. When read together, articles 257(7) and 94(5) make the BBI Bill the property of the House. In the absence of any article that expressly says Parliament cannot amend, the BBI Bill is subject to the Standing Orders and, therefore, liable to amendment.  

We are, however, a nation of cows. Even those now crying foul once followed the grandmaster like cows. In a few days, BBI will be in the ultimate cow pasture. We, the cows, are about to make one mistake that will divide and trouble Kenya for decades.

-The writer is a strategic public communications advisor.   

Download the BBI Judgement by all seven Judges - Civil Appeal No. E291 of 2021