National Cohesion

How Shakahola Massacre Exposes Kenya’s Three Societal Challenges

Ni kubaya, (slang mean­ing, things are thick!) This is almost the stan­dard answer in Kenya these days to the ques­tion, ‘how are you?’

Are things real­ly that bad? As per the lat­est data from the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, elec­tric­i­ty, hous­ing, cook­ing gas and oth­er fuels are priced at 9.6 per­cent high­er on aver­age than a year ago.

Behind each of these sta­tis­tics are indi­vid­u­als and house­holds that are strug­gling and bare­ly get­ting by. One of these indi­vid­u­als is a gen­tle­man that I know. In recent weeks, he was des­per­ate to find some Shs27,000 so that he could vis­it Pas­tor Ezekiel’s Church for a spe­cial deliv­er­ance ses­sion. I am a strong believ­er in the pow­er of prayer. How­ev­er, in this instance, the spe­cial deliv­er­ance ses­sion entailed numer­ous expens­es that ranged from holy hand­ker­chiefs, spe­cial water to spe­cial finan­cial offering.

It’s not my place to inval­i­date the sin­cer­i­ty of lack there­of of any man or woman of God.  But we all have a moral respon­si­bil­i­ty to val­i­date and artic­u­late the des­per­a­tion that dri­ves peo­ple to clutch at any ves­tige of hope offered to them.

It’s easy to dis­miss the vic­tims and fol­low­ers of Macken­zie as gullible and naïve. Yes, they are, but behind that naiveté is des­per­a­tion due to pover­ty. Des­per­a­tion dri­ves peo­ple to do des­per­ate things as evi­denced in the Shaka­ho­la sto­ry. As such, our focus should be on root­ing out the des­per­a­tion. As long as des­per­a­tion abounds, cults or cul­tic fig­ures will flourish.

It augurs ill for main­stream church­es that thou­sands of peo­ple are not find­ing hope and help in them. They must rekin­dle the social min­istry that is beau­ti­ful­ly cap­tured in the twen­ty fifth Chap­ter of Math­ew. Let us feed the hun­gry; vis­it the sick; min­is­ter to those in prison and clothe the naked. Doing this will land knock­out blows on des­per­a­tion. Indeed, we have a spir­i­tu­al and moral oblig­a­tion to min­is­ter to the needy in con­sis­tent, strate­gic fashion.

At a sys­temic lev­el, Shaka­ho­la only thrived because of intel­li­gence fail­ures. Even as we root out the des­per­a­tion that fuels cults, we must also tack­le the intel­li­gence fail­ure that enables these cults to con­tin­ue hood­wink­ing con­gre­gants. Ter­ror­ists were only able to attack Amer­i­ca on 9/11 because of intel­li­gence fail­ure that left the world’s lone super­pow­er woe­ful­ly exposed.

Kenyans will remain exposed to the threats posed by extrem­ists like Macken­zie unless our intel­li­gence dras­ti­cal­ly pulls up its socks.

It’s incon­ceiv­able that peo­ple died over sev­er­al months, pos­si­bly years, with­out the intel­li­gence sniff­ing out Mackenzie’s dia­bol­ic schemes. What oth­er tick­ing time bombs are just wait­ing to explode?! Just as USA over­hauled its intel­li­gence sys­tem post‑9/11, we must also over­haul ours post-Shaka­ho­la. This new intel­li­gence regime should encom­pass all life-threat­en­ing threats. This includes road acci­dents and reli­gious extremism.

As such, if there are ram­pant bro­ken brak­ing sys­tems on our roads, intel­li­gence should pick that up before news­pa­per head­lines report on brakes-relat­ed road car­nage. Sim­i­lar­ly, church-aid­ed intel­li­gence should sniff out harm­ful extreme doc­trines before they grave­ly maim both bod­ies and spirits.

Two months ago, the roof of a St. Stephens Min­istry Church build­ing in Tiva Kitui was car­ried away by strong winds. My late father Bish­op Kalua found­ed this Min­istry years back.

When I informed a close friend that our Church’s had been blown off, he request­ed me to repeat my state­ment. He then remind­ed me that what had been blown off was the roof of a build­ing, not the Church.

My friend’s words have spe­cial res­o­nance as we grap­ple with Macken­zie of Shaka­ho­la and oth­er forms of reli­gious extrem­ism. We need to go back to the roots. The Church encom­pass­es peo­ple, believ­ers. It derives its very iden­ti­ty from God, not from any sin­gu­lar indi­vid­ual. We must there­fore build and lift each oth­er up. In so doing, we will be lift­ing up the Church. If we do so, there will be no room to lift up any indi­vid­ual! And God will be glo­ri­fied. Think green, act green.

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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