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Kenya is Slowly but Inexorably Sliding into Lawlessness

By Cosmas Ronno | May 6th 2017 | 3 min read

What happened to the civic habit and duty of living by the law? Everywhere one looks it is clear that Kenya is sliding into a rather toxic form of lawlessness.

Take our conduct on the road. Minibus drivers, private motorists and ‘boda boda’ cyclists are outdoing one another in their rush to take a shortcut to the next life. Overlapping, overtaking on the left and on blind corners is now the norm rather the exception. Unnecessary shrill hooting is driving other drivers up the wall. And in all this, traffic police officers are concerned almost entirely on collecting ‘levies’ to the exclusion of everything else.

Then there is the noise and the disgusting din and frustration that go with it. From bars, to schools, to public transport, to (God forbid!) the church, it is one continuous blast of high decibel ear-drum bursting, chest-crushing excruciating din 24/7. The National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) has stringent legislation governing the use of sound generating devices and equipment with the aim of protecting citizens from armful noise nuisance. Neither the public nor NEMA seem to be interested in conducting themselves in accordance with the said legislations. Since the exit of late Hon John Michuki from his Cabinet docket it seems the curbing of noise generated nuisance has been placed on the backburner.

I find it shocking that the church breaks NEMA rules with abandon. Christian leaders and stewards are, by definition, supposed to be on the forefront in keeping the law. Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 13 verse 1 writes “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (TNIV). NEMA is particularly strict on noisemaking at night, requiring that a sound producing device must not disturb or bring discomfort to person 30 metres away.

It is not uncommon to have ‘keshas’ (overnight prayers) where prayers and praises are conducted with the help of high powered amplifiers and speakers that keep everyone within a radius of 3 km awake for the duration of the prayers!

Since the time of Jesus to as recently as 15 years ago church worship services have been conducted very effectively without all the gizmos available to today’s clergy. When, for example, the Psalmist (Ps 33:3) says “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy”, I don’t think he had a 1200 watt box speaker in mind!

Our clergy can learn from churches run by Europeans and Americans (in whose countries it is routine to obey the law) so much about effective use of sound equipment for maximum audibility and minimum noise by balancing sound decibel output and ambient acoustics.

One reason noise infringement thrives in Kenya is that planning and zoning has been thrown out of the window. You will find a church, a kindergarten, disco and petrol station sharing the same space with residential quarters. Surely it is common sense that a church should be isolated so that worshippers can rejoice as loudly as they wish without robbing anyone of sleep.



And then there is the plastic, manure, and storm water and sewage eyesore. Women toss rinsing water right onto the playground, hawkers will dump banana peelings on the street and men spit and urinate at liberty and we all expect the County Governor to clean up our mess-or lose his seat!

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