Kenya will be holding the annual national prayer breakfast on Thursday, 27th May 2021 at the Parliament Precincts marking the 18th year anniversary of a tradition that began with Retired President Mwai Kibaki. The prayer breakfast is expected to bring together political leaders from different sides of the divide, representation from the three arms of government and religious leaders from diverse faiths to pray for the betterment of the nation.
The annual event has, however, come under question over its relevance and impact to the Kenyan society. Critics have called out political leaders for putting up a charade that has little to no output that is of significance to wananchi and termed the event as a display of hypocrisy. If one may recall, during the last national prayer breakfast, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s message was anchored on national unity, reconciliation and a collective effort against bad governance and corruption that continues to bedevil Kenya’s development.
While the intent is noble, not much has been done to end the vice and Kenyans still are treated to headlines on looting of billions of taxpayer money. It’s only in January this year that the President said that upto Sh 2 billion is lost to corruption everyday. Such admissions and the lack of convictions of corrupt individuals give the impression that change is still a long way from happening. Additionally, focus on these socio-economic challenges during the prayer day make it seem that all other avenues, policy and legislative, have been exhausted and that the only solution is divine intervention. Which isn’t the case.
Kenya certainly is a peculiar country that has a history of turning to God for man-made problems. In 2017, the second lady Ms. Rachael Ruto led a praying team on the Salgaa blackspot that has claimed many lives in road accidents yet experts have noted that this can be solved by a redesign of the road. It’s the scripture itself that talks about faith without action being dead. A heart’s desire remains just that if deliberate and strategic action is not put in place to actualize it.
Leaders need to stop using prayers as a cover for incompetence. The parable of the talents is evidence that the Higher Power does not condone laxity where one has been delegated responsibility. As is our case, Kenyans have delegated responsibility to their representatives who should be working in Wanjiku’s best interests. Therefore, the leadership will eventually have to rise to the occasion and serve mwananchi lest they lose these positions for failure to deliver.
Religious leaders on the other hand have a bigger responsibility than legitimizing this event through their attendance. It is time to revive religious activism and call out leadership whenever they fail to fulfil the promises they commit to, especially during such national events. Considering the role and impact of religious formations in Kenya, religious leaders ought to take the lead in educating the masses on their rights, standing against laws or actions that threaten these rights and seeing to it that their congregants have access to justice. Failure to which, politicians will continue using religion to subdue and manipulate the citizenry as has been the case over the decades.
As leaders gather in prayer on Thursday, let them remember to act in a manner that matches their words. For a man, without his word is nothing.