State, clergy must unreservedly apologise

The recovery of bodies in mass graves in a macabre incident linked to a sect in Kilifi. [File, Standard]

Kenya’s security apparatus is the new bugbear following events of the week in Kilifi county. Police and the intelligence community badly slept on the job. The result of their inaction is the recovery of more than 100 bodies in mass graves in a macabre incident linked to a sect.

Now, anyone can say anything. But the truth is that the Shakahola incident exposed intelligence failure of monumental proportions that left the government tangled. For once, the previous admiration hasn’t been blamed.

In responsible jurisdictions, the government of the day would pack off and go over such dereliction of duty. But here, those who should take blame have put up a brave face – engaging in belated tough talk and enjoying photo ops at the crime scene. Kenya’s unsavoury history with injustices tells us that during such incidents, terse statements would be issued after public outcry, a few people harangued before courts then set free with a slap on the wrist and life continues.

I wonder what the country would live to tell its future generations! That from the seat of power in Nairobi all the way to the sub-chief in Kilifi and with all the invincible security apparatus, we were outwitted to the core and lost innocent lives in the name of faith.

Technology guru Steve Jobs once said that deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. Money and power may have blurred the visions of top officials who should have acted. Again with that, life continues.

Now that we are here, Kenyans of goodwill must demand answers through whichever means. Those who slept on the job must pay for it. The best the William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza government can do is to own up. There’s a way government apology plays an important psychological role among a downhearted populace. 

In the same breath, the religious community must engage in an instant soul-searching. At the altar of greed that pushes some faith leaders to do the unthinkable and seek unholy unions even with the State, we crucify biblical traditions on the sanctity of life.

It is obvious that the clergy, more than anyone else, should be more perturbed by cult-like activities. We haven’t heard them speak loud enough about the Kilifi incident. They must speak and speak at the top of their voices and with all the possible vehemence. 

Our clerics must have the guts to condemn ills and to spiritually police the government beyond being ‘flower girls’ that we saw last year chanting prayers at manifesto launches, home-comings and other political rituals without questioning what’s in them. Their muted response could, in many ways than imagined, help sanitise malevolent behaviors.

Methinks we need prayers. The men and women of cloth who ‘cleansed’ State House and prayed for rain must now step forward and be counted. Bring intercessors. Recently, word went round that there were plans to hire at least 100 prayer champions with full perks. Whatever the case, with the Kilifi incident, we need a true affirmation that Kenya is a prayerful nation.

Like in “The fortunate arrival of Gordaunt in the very nick of time,” as Sir Walter Scott wrote in The Pirate in the year 1821, we need an apt deviation from the vitriol some clerics have spewed in recent times while seeking to politically align with stars. Let the church be the epitome of hope where there’s gloom.

Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero once said when the church hears the cry of the oppressed, it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate misery from which cries arise. The clergy shouldn’t be driven by vain material gain that may have led to the Kilifi horror tales. Importantly, faith leaders must do more to look genuine.

- The writer is an editor at The Standard.