Monday, June 14, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

June 14, 2010

There was this riot incident at the University of Nairobi in my days. We had gathered at the CCU Kitchen in the morning soon after breakfast to match to the Great Court to protest against this or that injustice.

On such occasions male students who knew that a GSU confrontation was no laughing matter always advised their girlfriends to be as far away from the campus as possible because the special squad had formed the habit of venting their anger on fragile female students and the infirm when they could not get the real rioters.

On this occasion, a group of Christian Union members, boys and girls decided that they would neither run nor fight the police. They would instead use the Bible as their weapon against the brutality that was staring them in the face!

As they went on their knees near the tunnel on Uhuru Highway to pray to the Almighty, hands raised in His praise, the GSU descended on them with batons and clobbered them to smithereens leaving some of them for dead. We had to return later to take their bartered bodies to Kenyatta National Hospital.

I remembered this incident 30 years ago when I learnt that long after the No rally was over on Sunday evening, one pastor remained behind to pray for whatever reason. And despite the fact that the first blast had caused a casualty among those that remained to linger around and the body brought to the pastor, he the man of God told his followers not to fear but to continue with prayer. However, as he continued to pray, the second blast went off causing more injuries! Had the pastor heeded the first warning and asked people to leave, may be a lot less injuries might have taken place.

Nobody can deny that the Nairobi blast is a shame to this nation that is struggling to heal itself. However, as the police embark on investigations to establish the real cause or who caused it, a few questions must be raised. First, it seemed curious that just a few minutes after the incident; several preachers were on camera blaming it on the Yes team. This indeed was not an unexpected reaction considering that the Yes team is their main protagonist in this battle for the souls and minds of Kenyans.

That notwithstanding the spirited surety with which they condemned their opponents, not to mention the curses they immediately unleashed on them raised more questions than answers. One bishop was caught on camera vowing that the clergy would continue to oppose the constitution even if it meant spilling more blood!

Forgive me for reminding you that I have warned on these pages in the past that Christians got it wrong on day one when they decided to go into political battle with politicians on matters secularly political. We all know that Kenyan politics has a violent history and there is nothing that a politician in Kenya enjoys more than violence when challenged on his tuff. Christians too know this fact. If you doubt me then visit Kamukunji, Kasarani, Westlands or even South Mugirango constituencies during election seasons. They are glaring examples of real violence in our politics. Therefore this Uhuru Park incident should be seen in that light. It is a taste of things to come in the next six weeks or even the coming two years if war mongers and current hate speakers are not stopped in their tracks.

However, although Kenyan politics may be violent, we can state with no fear of contradiction that since 1963, no bombs have exploded at a political rally even when we had some of the most explosive and volatile elections in 1992, 2002, 2007 and the referendum of 2005. The Uhuru Park incident is therefore strange and uncharacteristic of Kenyans. We have always used stones, sticks, whips, machetes and arrows in political battles. We have never used guns, bombs or grenades. Those are the specialties of Somalis in Mogadishu, Iraqis, Indians, Pakistanis, Afghanistans and Palestinians

However, just days before JM Kariuki was brutally murdered by anti reformers in 1975, a series of bombs exploded killing several people at the OTC Bus Stage in downtown Nairobi. The anti- reformers blamed it on him as they prepared to eliminate him. Could the present day anti-reformers in this campaign be behind the Uhuru Park bomb blasts? Could it be the same people that inserted “National Security” in the draft document that was readily blamed on the Yes team that decided to cause mayhem behind the scenes at Uhuru Park? What about the now famous “watermelon” campaigners in the Yes camp or what my local newspaper vendor calls “ Yes by day and NO by night” turn coats in the Yes team?

In other words for us to get to the bottom of this ugly incident, we have to cast our nets beyond the mere rhetoric from the Yes and No teams. There is an enemy from with that does not care if Kenya burns as long as he or she stands to benefit. He could be a clergy, a politician or simply a gunman for hire.

In today’s contest between the Reds and the Greens over the draft constitution, the Greens have been leading in the polls ever since. Why then would they throw a bomb so late in the evening after the NO rally is virtually over? What would they gain from it politically?

Another thing, having a rally at Uhuru Park even if you dub it a Christian rally is never the same thing as having a service at Valley Road PAG Church where ushers look at faithful in the face before they are ushered in. Uhuru Park is a public recreation center that is free for all manner of people and there is no guarantee that all those that came there on Sunday were Christians. Chances are that all manner of people came there for different reasons either as pickpockets, muggers, rapists and murderers not to mention, Al Shababs, Al Kaidas, mungikis and even Christian fundamentalists; all pursuing their own interests in the new constitution. Therefore extending an uncalled for prayer well beyond sunset and against the law was a good opportunity for such darkness operators to strike. And they struck.

On the other hand, when you as a man of God calls a public rally to attack foreign governments even if they are the punch bag Americans, Muslims and political factions , chances of raising political temperatures from any quota are very high, only that you may never know where or when you step on live wire.

Therefore as we await police investigations, let us first investigate politicians that have threatened Kikuyus to quit Rift Valley, those that have declared Kitale to be in Mt. Elgon and those clergy that have cursed their imaginary enemies in the Yes camp. More urgently, the police must question a church man caught on tape promising bloodbath over the constitution. The law is the law whether we are priests or not.