It appears Kenyans forget about God during elections

The three symbols of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. [iStockphoto]

God does not vote in Kenya.

If you think he does, listen to the recent utterances of some politicians who began their campaigns with prayers, regularly walked into churches, worshipped and gave offerings and received blessings from priests and even got baptised. They are now spitting fire.

One of them has, for instance, reminded all and sundry that he is a true son of the Mau Mau. I would have expected him to say that he is a son of God instead.

What does 'son of Mau Mau' mean in this context? In present-day usage it denotes fearlessness, it means violence. It means using extreme violence to achieve a goal. It no longer signifies liberation and freedom. Its contemporary usage points to the deployment of war as a tool for campaigns. Therefore the politician may have used the metaphor 'Mau Mau' to show the violence that he may employ against his political opponents.

The failure of our own brand of Christianity can be seen in this case. The inability of people to sustain the tenets of Christian teachings of love and forgiveness in their daily lives and to fully solve fundamental problems that affect Kenyans on a daily basis. This is what John Mbiti calls religious concubinage.

Christianity in Kenya is such a good cover that no one can doubt a 'convert' until their true inner self comes out when they are confronted with intense and sudden problems that religion cannot solve or give answers to.

This occurs when there are tensions between the 'sacred and the profane' and clearly shows the vulnerability of Christianity in countering political crises in the face of increasing significance of occult powers and traditional beliefs. These other unflattering exercises are usually symptoms of greater spiritual desperation.

Evil has always triumphed over good; it has always played a major role in elections. That is why we always have post-election violence, that is why we choose the wrong leaders who go ahead to claim they have been anointed by God.

It is also not necessarily true that all leaders who are eventually elected have been favoured or anointed by God. Some use evil ways to access power. Some use money and power, others use force, others rig elections. It is obvious that we use God whenever we need him and when it is convenient for us. When things are beyond us, some turn against God and use other means to resolve the problems.

Almost 70 per cent of Kenyans claim to be strong Christians. Of these, 90 per cent do attend church regularly. Christianity seems to be so powerful that it is largely through Christian lenses and ideas that Kenyans think about the world today.

Political rallies and meetings normally begin and end with prayers. But pray, why is it that ecclesiastical tenets of humility and tolerance cannot be exercised when politicians are looking for votes? How can a country that is deeply religious court violence each time it goes to elections?

It is my argument, therefore, that Christianity does not affect voting in this country. There is no political constituency called Wakristo because all of them ultimately sink into their ethnic sanctums during elections.

-Dr Chacha teaches at Laikipia University