A glimpse of what Kenya would be like under charismatic leadership

President William Ruto, his deputy Rigathi Gachagua and a host of other Kenya Kwanza leaders during a church service at Kirubia Stadium, Tharaka Nithi. [PCS]

Envision me concluding a meeting at State House, then going down Processional Way to deliver a sermon at a crusade held in Uhuru Park.

This vivid scenario was the visionary aspiration of a well-known bishop who had previously vied for the presidency. He did not succeed. But imagine for a moment that he won and become president – the commander-in-chief would also be a crusade preacher. The dream of a preaching president gives us a glimpse into the mind of a charismatic Christian leader - specifically how they envision national leadership. 

This is of importance in our contemporary setting where the ‘yellow’ church that significantly aided the current government getting into power has a huge charismatic composition. From frequent expressions, a cardinal component for a charismatic-leaning leader would be that Kenya runs as a Christian nation.

What would a ‘born again’ government look like? The charismatic church – unlike an institutional church - follows one leader who builds a faith community around his gifts. It turns out that the church and its founder and owner are inextricably interwoven. Overt signs characterise the church in line with the “anointing” of the founder.

The charismatic dimension would expect a government that is ‘born again’ and pronounces so since, as they teach, there is power in confession. Just like there are things a born-again Christian shuns doing upon conversion, a born-again country would have a list of its stops and starts.

A Puritan moral heightening would be expected. Radical practices would be articulated in an effort to construct a Christian culture as the general operating atmosphere. Key too would be a continuous demonstration of divine power at work over matters. Perform miracles! How else shall people know you are extraordinary? Signs must follow the born-again leaders and their government. Success must defy the process! As drama is narrated in the scenes of scripture, so should it replay before our eyes.

Exploits are our portion! The lame must walk! The blind must see! The dead must rise! Opposition pushbacks are not welcome voices – they are seen as attempts by darkness to derail the plan. They are not welcome and must be extinguished – the enemy must be scattered. Bullets rain on innocent people and the trigger-pullers are hailed as heroes in the league of David’s men of valour. The declaration ‘we will not die prematurely’ is conveniently suspended. Long life is not a promise for everyone but only the “chosen ones” who show cooperation with the state. There is a question on the wall - can one be a terminator and a mediator of resurrection at the same time?

Master the lingo. “Bwana asifiwe!” (praise the Lord!) is the greeting to remind voters you are still with them. If you drop the hallelujah language, votes will drop too. “Mungu awabariki” is the way you wave goodbye even after a foul speech.

We conveniently ignore the fact that hate speech is first a spirit before it is words. We hate to hear “Love our enemies.” Now and again quote a verse in your speeches. Burst into spiritual songs and hymns in places. This shows you are “with it.” In a church service - do not be stoic! Follow the leader to the  “teremka teremka” song. Respond zealously when they ask “Wapi nduru ya ufalme!” Close your eyes when people are praying – not preying when all others are bowed down. A serious leader must carry the Holy Book to church – the one on the phone is not for serious people!

Favor the church. Anything to do with the government regulating the church is a landmine. How can you stifle the hand that fed your ballot boxes to the full?  Church regulation is a bad spirit from the enemy that must be fought and expelled. Let us talk exemptions, not taxation - that is how the ‘yellow church’ knows it is highly favoured.  This season of favour should also be when most churches and ministries were registered – a record-breaking entry. When King Uzziah died, doors of opportunity appeared.  Exceptional treatment is a mark of reigning divinely in high places.  

Possess! A popular verse preached in sermons and invoked in prayer is possessing where your feet step. If you step in State House you possess it. Possessing does not merely mean owning. It means owning and controlling forever. This possessing language propagates room for the extension of terms beyond the constitutional mandate.

Once you take territory, you hoist the flag and occupy. Possessing includes taking away from “unbelievers” since the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. Possessing in fundamentalist terms has no provision for co-existence - only conversion.  Other faiths may be allowed to exist but will not be fanned to grow. The country is envisioned as radically and unapologetically Christian in the tone of “declare and decree.“  The Christian leader is discouraged from attending feasts of other faiths for fear of “mixing altars.”

Prayer above knowledge. For every situation that comes, pray. With prayer breakthroughs, knowledge gathering is deemed unnecessary. An intercessory function will shut down a library! Prayer is spiritual and supersedes the physical. Of reading many books there is no and remembering knowledge puffs up while prayer humbles. Just like in the Bible people, call for frequent fasts, invite prophets to share their dreams, and seek from them interpretation for yours. Relegate statistical projections. Who needs equations when you can have prophets who ‘see’ for you?

While the moral codes that charismatic followers are expected to fulfill could be rigorous, the founders are not necessarily bound by those instructions. They can live above the codes. Controversially, due to the necessity of the prosperity mark, doorways for incoming money are liberally open for the leader and founder. Founders are often very entrepreneurial when it comes to seeking riches.

Whether it is pastoral consultation fees, “the whole tithe,” a seed, a gift, or a purchase of spiritual paraphernalia, money is welcome. Riches are often a key ambition for the charismatic leader.  But often, this ambition is not stirred in the followers whose main key to gaining wealth is investing in the ‘man of God’. A rich follower risks being a threat to the power balance in the church. For the sake of control, the charismatic pastor is best when he remains the prime symbol of God’s prosperity. In terms of national leadership, this charismatic philosophy would translate into a rich elite with a largely impoverished population that lives in superstition.