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Politics and pulpit: Men and women of the cloth roll up their sleeves for 2022 duel

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru seeking to be Nairobi Senator on UDA ticket during a political rally.

Kenyans perceive politics as a dirty game, mostly because it is considered a morally unclean competition.

Politicians are also seen as clever manipulators, who are selfish with greed for power and dominance and who have no qualms engaging in unorthodox acts to achieve their ambitions.

This has, however, not out-shined the good side of politics which attracts many aspirants with good intentions.

Among those who have switched to politics are men and women of the cloth, who are seeking various elective seats in the August polls.

In 2007, Bishop Pius Muiru, the lead pastor at Maximum Miracle Centre Church, made a stab at the presidency, then riding on his prophetic and religious fame. Muiru garnered slightly over 9,000 votes.

Since then, preachers have been bidding for different political seats; others have won and others lost fairly.

While some experts have different opinions on politics and preaching, the pastors eyeing seats say they are equal to the task.

In this year’s polls, veteran gospel artiste cum-preacher Reuben Kigame will be in the race to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kigame does not believe that politics is dirty. He says it is just a game. 

 “It is absurd to imagine that Christians should not be engaged with leadership and the distribution of resources. Politics is deemed dirty mainly because those in it are dirty," stated Kigame

Kigame says the best way to reverse the problems facing the country is to elect a president, governors, senators, MPs, woman reps and MCAs with proven good character.

 Pastor Lucy Wanja of Rebuilders Church and Ministries is vying for Tharaka Nithi Woman Representative as an independent candidate.

She argues that it is the people who have made politics dirty and it is high time preachers get elected to reverse the situation.

 “God is the author of politics and in my case, I want to fill gaps that have not been addressed in our county because I understand problems that the electorate are facing,” explained Wanja.

 For the second time, renowned preacher Jackson Kosgei has found himself on the ballot for Baringo senatorial seat.

He argues that if politics matters to everybody, it matters to God and that every leadership and authority comes from God.

He says a living example is Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, a pastor, who was an MP for 17 years, saying his was a calling to serve.

In Nairobi, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, a seasoned politician, is targeting the Senate seat. 

The presiding bishop of Jesus is Alive Ministries believes politics and preaching go hand in hand.

  “Politics should be left for people with good morals, integrity, good desires and vision for the country,” said Wanjiru, who will be vying on UDA ticket.

 Former Presbyterian Church of Eastern Africa moderator David Githii is also in the race to succeed President Uhuru and is optimistic of winning.

The preacher, who is running on an independent ticket, says it is too early to claim that the race is between two horses.

“I have a desire to liberate our country from the current high cost of living. So far, God is my financier,” said Githii.

Bishop David Ngari, popularly known as Gakuyo, is seeking to represent Thika town in the National Assembly.

The general overseer of Calvary Chosen Center Church in Thika says members of the clergy have been shying away from politics because it has been branded dirty.

 “I will actively spread the gospel that the Church must lead from the front through representation in elective offices,” Gakuyo said.

Kiamwangi MCA Robert Githongo will be defending his seat on a Jubilee ticket.

Githongo is pastor of the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) in Kiamwangi.

Gospel artists Eva Mercy Nungari (Nominated Kiambu MCA ), Sarah Kimunyi and Loise Kim have also declared their interest in the Woman Rep position.

 “I have been aiding the elderly, mentoring women, the youth and the disabled as well as fighting alcohol and drug abuse,” said Nungari.

She has christened herself as ‘the minister of the gospel’ on her social media pages. 

In Kisumu, Railways MCA David Arao has mastered the skill of striking the delicate balance between the murky political scene and standing in front of a pulpit to save souls.

For the last five years, Arao, the only pastor at the Kisumu County Assembly, has also been providing MCAs with spiritual nourishment and playing an instrumental role in restoring calm in the assembly.

While he is at times engaged in steamy debates in the County Assembly chambers on week days, during the weekend, he is busy preaching at the Kingdom Restoration Church.

Last Sunday, the pastor pitched tent at Obunga slums to campaign for another term, moments after preaching to a group of congregants.

 “I have dedicated my life to serve the people and to serve God. In my ward, I have initiated several development projects and have even supplied different groups with egg incubators,” he said.

Two years ago as Bishop Peter Midodo who is one of the national directors at The Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa (PEFA) in Migori was praying, he says, he asked God to give the country righteous leaders.

He also prayed for a peaceful electioneering period in 2022.

 In the middle of his prayer, he says, he heard the Holy Spirit rebuke him, saying "you are the righteous who can lead the country."

The bishop said he contemplated on the message given to him by the Holy Spirit and decided to join the race for the Awendo parliamentary seat.

 “Immediately I announced my intention on social media, it received a wave of reactions,” Bishop Midodo says.

 Midodo, who grew up in the slums of Awendo, first trained as a P1 teacher and after graduating was employed in a number of primary schools in the constituency from 1998.

 He proceeded with his education overseas in 2001 and was ordained a pastor and later on a bishop in the PEFA church.

 Midodo, who is also in charge of the Lake region with about 184 churches and has over 200 pastors and 15 bishops under his leadership, says he will contest on an independent ticket.

In Taita Taveta, after the Orange party gave a direct ticket to Dr Vincent Masawi as its 2022 parliamentary candidate for the Voi constituency, Reverend Godfrey Mwanjulu of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) decided to try his luck as an independent candidate in the August polls.

 And this is not the first time the man of the cloth is joining politics. In 2017, he unsuccessfully vied for the seat but lost to the incumbent ODM MP Jones Mlolwa. Mlolwa will defend his seat on a Jubilee Party ticket.

 Rev Mwanjulu says he has been pushed by the voters to vie for the seat.

 Bishop Dickson Ochuto Opiyo and Jubilee Party nominated MCA Rev Frank Mmare have also joined politics.

 Others include pastors Claud of Elhai Gospel Church Wundanyi and Pastor Morris Mwadime of Ighanje Pentecostal Church. Pastor Claud is vying for the Wumingu-Kishushe ward seat while Mwadime for the Wusi-Kishamba seat on a UDA ticket.

 Bishop Opiyo of Ngambwa Pentecostal Church Ministries is vying for the Bura Ward seat on a DAP-K party ticket while Rev Mmare on a Jubilee Party ticket respectively. 

The bishop, who has lived in the Bura location since 1983, says he was conversant with the thorny issues affecting the local community.

In Kakamega, Rev Moses Akaranga, who was dethroned by Wilber Ottichilo as Vihiga governor in 2017, is plotting a comeback.

He made history in the 2002 elections after defeating then Vice President Musalia Mudavadi in Sabatia parliamentary race.

 Akaranga was a minister at the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Kenya where he also served as the general administrator.

 His star continued to shine after he was appointed Agriculture assistant minister in 2003 and later on elevated to Public Service minister in 2004.

 He lost the MP seat in the 2007 polls but bounced back in 2013 when he won the Vihiga governor's seat on Progressive Party of Kenya (PPK).

 The National Super Alliance (Nasa) wave swept him away in 2017 and Akaranga has been busy assembling his arsenals in readiness for yet another battle in August 9 polls.

In Meru former Njia MCA Eunice Karema of the Generation of God Ministry, is aiming to become Igembe Central MP.

 After making history as the first woman to be elected MCA in Meru in 2013, Karema is seeking to oust Kubai Kirirngo, a staunch Deputy President William Ruto ally who is defending the seat.

 Bishop Kiambi Atheru of the Kingdom Advance Network (KAN) church in Meru, who ran for the governor’s seat in 2017, said although he is not running for the post this year, he is supporting Meru Woman Rep Kawira Mwangaza, herself a bishop with her own church.

 Mwangaza, on top of a church ministry near Meru town, runs a charitable programme, Okolea Kaana ka Meru, which assists the most vulnerable in the community.

Reporting by Pkemoi Ng’enoh, Fidelis Kabunyi, Harold Odhiambo, Anne Atieno, Brian Kisanji, Nathan Ochunge and Phares Mutembei