Posts Tagged ‘Proposed Constitution Of Kenya’

Playing the devil’s advocate-the Church

June 1, 2010 3 comments

We are a nation of peculiar habits, including our Churchmen.

Globally, the Church has always sought to bring religion into the State but it’s the politicians who preach secularism. In Kenya, the Church goes to court fulminating about establishment of religious laws in a secular state, and demands ‘a wall of separation’.
In southern Sudan, our Church was at the forefront demanding the Christian and animist South be freed from the Muslim North on grounds of religious prosecution. Locally, they consider the special constitutional privileges to the Muslim minority an injustice against Christians.

The Church was categorical until last week that they were merely opposed to the constitutional entrenchment of Kadhis’ courts but not the courts’ parliamentary enactment or their existence. Yet, their first statement after the court ruling was to urge the government to scrap the courts immediately.
According to the Church, religious freedom for all was intended to exalt Christianity, not other faiths. It sees itself as the depository of the nation’s moral and social guidance, but seeks justice and quality for the Christians at the expense of the Muslims. The flip side of the political court ruling was however a wake-up call for the Muslims, creating a sense of unity and determination.

In 1960, residents of the Coastal strip wanted to join the Sultanate of Zanzibar whilst the inhabitants of NFD sought join Somalia. In both instances, the Muslim population feared that they would be discriminate against on religious grounds. The British then appointed two commissions, the Kenya Coastal Strip Commission in 1961 and the Northern Frontier District (NFD) Commission in 1962, to survey public opinion regarding their future in the light of the constitutional development sweeping East Africa.
The coastal inhabitants obtained the right to practice their faith under the new regime after the commission’s recommendation for Kadhis’ courts were promulgated by Kenya in 1963. The Somalis in NFD agitated for self determination, leading to the Shifta War. As part of the peace agreement brokered in Arusha by Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda in 1967, residents of NFD were also allowed to access the Kadhi court. The British had recognized the importance of freedom of faith and appointed the first State-funded Kadhi for NFD in 1927, based at Wajir. Clearly, these courts symbolize the most incontrovertible manifestation of the Muslim faith.

At Bomas, Muslims unsuccessfully lobbied that self-determination clause be included in the constitution as in South Africa and Ethiopia. In the latter, that provision allowed Eritrea to secede; while in South Africa the provision safeguarded the rights of the minority should they feel threatened. If these courts are scrapped, won’t Muslims renew their agitation for secession?

Muslims feel it would be a matter of time before the Church declares Kenya a Christian state. Next maybe a campaign to outlaw the call to prayer, halt Islamic Religious Education in schools, regulate mosque/madrassas and ban the Muslim veil. Early this year, the Church ran adverts questioning the growing political, social and economic status of Muslims in the country, raising concerns on such matters as Islamic banks and Halal certification.

The Church’s obsession with the growth of Islam in Kenya irks Muslims. Its perception with the growth of Islam is foreign to Kenya undermines the confidence of Muslims as citizens. The pitched anti-Islam propaganda in rural churches is bound to increase radicalism and resentment among Muslim youth who already feel discriminated against, and underprivileged.
In recent years, Muslims have been targeted and harassed on anti-terrorism related security crackdowns. Muslims are calm. But for how long?
Before the clergy’s impunity drives us to the brink could someone forward their envelope to The Hague?

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A dog in a manger: the clergy

April 19, 2010 5 comments

Jesus, as the fable goes, was born in a manger. A manger is a trough full of grass and other munchies for herbivores-like cows, horses and cows.

Some clerics, no doubt, will be familiar with the English expression ”a dog in a manger”. It originates from the observation of canines barking at bovines as they chew their grass, yet dogs are not known to partake of the ‘green stuff’ as part of their diet.
So it is with many of the clergy.
Although Kadhis’ courts in no way affect any of us outside the Muslim faith, some church leaders are misleading Christians to vote against the proposed constitution and say ‘nyet’ at the referendum albeit of humdrum proportios to this.
If the Proposed Constitution is rejected on these hallowed grounds, we will go back to the Constitution, which still has provision for Kadhis’ courts.
It’s a lose-lose situation for the clergy on this one issue, so why not then look at the other issues in the Proposed Constitution, and if they work better for their faithfull, encourage them to vote in the affirmative?
British Premier, former, Winston Churchill once defined a fanatic as a ”fool who cannot change their mind, and will not change the subject”.
Sound constitutions are built on due proportions of the free and the permeate life and energy of the country to the organised powers brought within containing channels, such as the Kadhis’ courts.
Since religious institutions do not pay taxes, it is a moot point that Christian taxpayers will be supporting the Kadhis’ courts, if not downright deceitful and sinfull. Untaxed church leaders drive fuel guzzlers that rival those of the MPs, that is, before the Passat, from congregational tithes, which is parasitic. It is Pharisee-tic, then, to point fingers at politicians for tribalism, when clergy are using their sermons as bully pulpits to attack other religions.
The Commonwealth Laws we operate under are derived from medieval courts, so it is ludicrous for some church leaders to ask the clock be rolled back 500 years to ”accommodate Christians”.
Are they nostalgic for the Inquisition? Even a middle ages’ tyrant like Henry VII got sick of “the Church” and said churlishly: ”We have His Majesty, the Commons, Parliament of Lords Temporal. It is immoral that Spiritual Overloads should have so much sway”.
Yes, we live in a world ruled by the laws of men, not an afterlife governed by spiritual laws as interpreted by some men of cloth.
Only if our clergy abandons its dogma of division and infallibility should we, the ‘commoners’, allow them to play a part in this Proposed Constitution. Our political system is often wont to travel peacefully, than to arrive,
But then our constitutional journey has been too long – 20 years in the making. And if the Church wants to quarrel in the car, okay, but we must reach the journey’s end.
Otherwise, like Moses, we’ll be 40 years in the desert, with Constitution 2030 as our vision. Let the disconcerted bark, but the constitutional caravan must move to destination.

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