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Let clerics preach more loudly against growing intolerance

Careless campaigns, hate speech, ethnic antagonism all signal the likely danger ahead. [iStock]

On April 1, I attended the farmer-cum-politician Jackson Kibor’s funeral. I later witnessed the stoning of Raila Odinga’s helicopter and left convinced that this was just a tip of the violence iceberg we are likely to witness. Unfortunately, the rising intolerance has not been addressed or condemned enough, especially by our religious leaders.  

Equally, sometime back, DP William Ruto’s entourage was stoned at Kondele in Kisumu County. Again the incident was not condemned as strongly as it should have been. Many such instances are happening daily and threatening the very fabric of our unity.

It is indisputable that both Mr Odinga and Dr Ruto are not doing enough to condemn hatred. The two men are too ambitious. Dr Ruto is a bitter man after falling out with his boss whom he so much ‘helped’ to get elected. He believes he has the following of majority of Kenyans and also that he deserves to be the next president of Kenya by virtue of having served as DP. He looks certain he will be the next president. 

On the other hand, Mr Odinga believes that the last three elections were unfairly snatched from him and that 2022 is the right moment for him to revenge.

Both politicians have diehard supporters who would do anything to have the leaders of their choice elected, but their intolerance could lead to another round of electoral violence.

No religious group or leaders have met these presidential candidates to counsel and emphasise to them the need to preach peace. Some religious leaders are busy soliciting funds from the politicians while others are praying and campaigning for them.

Recent campaigns have shown how fragile our presumed peace is. Careless campaigns, hate speech, ethnic antagonism all signal the likely danger ahead.

Unfortunately, there has been no Ufungamano House meeting to address this situation. In 2007, clerics were afraid of speaking about the impending danger and we saw what happened. Religious leaders failed to show leadership to the Kenyan community. They instead became part of the problem. 

In fact, John Cardinal Njue later apologised at the Holy Family Basilica of the Catholic Church, during a thanksgiving Mass for the formation of a grand coalition government. At the event, Cardinal Njue accepted that religious leaders were compromised to the extent that it became difficult for them to directly face their flock and preach because most took sides, and some even crossed the boundary and went into politics full-time.

Today, some religious leaders are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Yet, they are supposed to be the men and women of God, whose job is to reconcile mankind with God.

Personally, I do not fear to warn Kenyans. I have a responsibility as a historian to warn fellow Kenyans about the impending danger so that we can forestall it.  Indeed, there are growing fears that unless the current political discourse is toned down, Kenya risks once again descending into violence.

Dr Chacha teaches at Laikipia University