“It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer. But you’re making it ‘a den of robbers’,” said Jesus as he drove out traders from a temple in Jerusalem. If one were to exclude the context and source of these words, they’d still have great relevance to the Kenyan political space in relation to the church. Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and Nominated MP Maina Kamanda had an altercation at Gitui Catholic Church on Sunday following an aggrieved Nyoro who claimed that protocol was not observed at the church function.
Many Kenyans were left surprised as to when politicians held this much importance to the point of having the audacity to desecrate a place of worship. But the blame doesn’t fall solely on them, the church has been an enabler. Churches have provided a platform for politicians to attack opponents and for the latter to give rebuttals, with the leverage largely being the huge sums of money contributed in church harambees. The Messiah would probably throw a fit in light of this incident seeing that the church has become the very thing he forbade; a marketplace.
This incident validates the premise of the Mzalendo Civic Awareness report that sought to understand the public’s perception of public and state officers. Leaders have become so bold in displaying an inflated sense of self-importance making it apparent that their positions aren’t meant for service but to satiate their hunger for power. Power that they can wield to pursue personal and political interests. They have in turn lost sight of their goal and mandate and become what Chapter Six of the Constitution speaks against. Article 75 (1) (c) states, “A State officer shall behave, whether in public and official life, in private life, or in association with other persons, in a manner that avoids demeaning the office the officer holds.” Mr Ndindi and Kamanda’s conduct in Murang’a was disrespectful of the church, its congregants and their respective constituents. Their actions led to a ban by Gitui Catholic Church on politicians attending church functions, which frankly, was long overdue.
While Nyoro tried to get off the hook by terming his arrest as a political attack by the “Kieleweke” camp, he wasn’t spared from the fact that long before this incident, he had courted controversy before. The sycophancy disguised as loyalty has reduced him and many other young politicians as mouthpieces for the different political camp leaders. To live up to the expectations of the positions these leaders hold is actually the bare minimum, sadly many refuse to see the world of possibilities by failing to shift their focus from myopic goals.
If any of the elected leaders doubt whether this is possible then the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth is a prime example of what one can do with a great vision in mind. The teacher turned politician proved naysayers wrong when he made true his promise to construct schools in his constituency. Most MPs who have either failed to drive tangible development through their CDF fund or misappropriated it had no excuses to fall back on when Okoth made the constituency that is home to the biggest slum a subject of envy. This is a legacy that many will struggle to attain leave alone outdo. Which would then mean that the Kibra electorate in the upcoming by-election will have an uphill task in finding a worthy replacement from the candidates who’ve been floated by various parties so far. The late Ken Okoth’s shoes are too big to fill and the successful MP-elect will have to do more than sell empty rhetoric. The candidates owe it to the departed illustrious legislator to see the education goals he had outlined come to realization.
Ken Okoth’s achievements and values should be a great point of reflection for the likes of Nyoro and the entire Parliament as it resumes sittings. There needs to be a shift from constantly politicking to having conversations that drive development. In any case, when 2022 comes, won’t the citizenry judge MPs’ performance based on this period that is being lost to talks of an election that is three years away?