Where is Kenya’s moral leadership?

On Tuesday’s programme we heard from Abda, a Kenyan listening on WCPN in Cleveland. She asked why religious leaders were not condemning the violence. We’ve invited her onto the programme today – here’s what she wrote to us:

My name is Abda, I’m from Kenya but moved to America six years ago to live in Cleveland. I am here with my husband and two children. I’m an avid listener to World Have Your Say.
I have family and relatives who are spread out all over Kenya: Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa just to name a few. As it is, most people are faced with the daily challenges of life. To add the present turmoil is even a greater burden to everybody especially the common people. We have relatives who are very sick and cannot get adequate medical care because of fear of being hurt. Yes we have been watching with alarm what is going on there.
What I want to ask is… Where is the religious and moral leadership in the country. They should stand up and call to an end to the violence we see in Kenya, a once very peaceful country. I believe in any religion, especially in Kenya, there is no Kikuyu or luo etc. Everyone is the same in the eyes of god. The religious leaders should unite and try to advocate unity among the people, who have previously lived in perfect harmony for a very long period.


Thanks Abda, we look forward to hearing from you later, and getting you talking to church leaders in your country.

In Kenya today, the violence continues – an opposition MP has been shot dead by a traffic policeman in disputed circumstances in the western town of Eldoret. The police say that David Too was killed in a domestic dispute unrelated to the political crisis but the opposition call it an “assassination”; whatever the reason people have begun fleeing the town.

So as African leaders meet at their summit in Ethiopia they’ve been urged by the AU Commission chairman to get involved in the Kenyan crisis, “If Kenya burns, there will be nothing for tomorrow.”

Whose responsibility is it to provide moral leadership? Are they living up to that responsibility? Does anyone listen to religious or civic leaders? 

43 Responses to “Where is Kenya’s moral leadership?”

  1. 1 George Wills Bangirana
    January 31, 2008 at 14:21

    This is very strange. Anarchy is tearing Kenay apart. A Place I grew up knowing is a haven of peace and stability in this region. I was looking through weekly paper here in Uganda-The Weekly observer- and it had an interesting comment about the seemingly amazing turn around by a globally reknown author, Ngugi wa Thiongo, who ind of justifies the election in Kenya.
    With such turn arounds, it would be suprising that people still have hope in people we always perceived to be moralists to come out and say anything moral in a situation like Kenya’s.
    Kenya is so polarised that any comment is likely to be seen as being for one side of the debate or the other.
    If the international community is keen to solving Kenya’s problem, they should just call on the politicians in Kenya to call for new elections under the supervision of some international organisation.
    To me that is the only way around this maze.

  2. 2 John D. Anthony
    January 31, 2008 at 14:24

    If the world learned anything from Uganda and Rwanda it’s that bloodlust doesn’t require a cause, only a victim. The time to act is NOW, before the slaughter really begins in earnest.
    If no one on the local scene is capable then the A.U. or the U.N. needs to step in immediately.

    John in Salem

  3. 3 john in Germany
    January 31, 2008 at 15:00

    HI Abda.
    Thank you for the the picture that you have painted. Sorry do disappoint you, do not expect to find the religious leaders in Kenya voiceing any opinion, they will only quote a point of view if authorised from the top of the heirachy scale. And for many reasons that wont be forthcoming

    In our world-religion is tied up with politics, and in some countries. politics with religion. That is why the leaders will not order their followers to stop killing, or maiming. Maybe you could like it to chess?, prawns are always pushed about and offered. Sadly we are the prawns.

    Think back in history how many have died in the name of one religion or the other, it is the same today. It would be a lovely world if the various gods used their priests, and not the priests their gods.

    I wish your family safety, and a chance for a future. And any correspondents a safe return, when there is nothing left to report on.

    John in Germany

  4. 4 Paul, Liberia
    January 31, 2008 at 15:13

    Kenya better look around her and see what tribal war has done to countries. Kenya is one no matter what. Stop the violence and make peace your friend…. Look at Liberia today, I am here and I know what happened…

  5. 5 carlos King
    January 31, 2008 at 15:31

    As a conscientious human being and a black man, I am very sadden by what I see and hear happening in Kenya. This is a very sad period in the rich and proud hisoty of Kenya. Can nothing be done to stop those criminal from killing, maiming and burning the country? What is happening is a perfect example of “if I can’t have you no body will!” – “slash and burn!

    After their heady maddness is otver, after the future of Kenya is thrown to the ground and trampled, after sense returns to those intoxicate with revenger and blood, they will realize what a dastardly act they have done but it’ll be too late. It may already be too late. Innocent is already gone. Who is rejoicing? Only the enemies of Kenya, those within and those without. May God have mercy on Kenya.

    As for the Moral Leaders, all over the world this group have been eroded by their hyprocritical ways. Politicans, business leader, civic and church leaders have lost, to a great degree, their moral leadership because of their doubles standards- they articular virtue but do selfish evil deeds. The only hope left for the world is Jesus. He is the only moral leader that has never disappointed.

    Nevertheless, the moral leader have to do something. This might be the opportunity to redeem themselve. They need to come together and march the lenght and breath of kenya- every village, every town, every lane, every highway etc. March for PEACE, JUSTICE AND EQUALITY! The feet of the good must take over from the feet of evil.

    My heart goes out to the suffering people of Kenya, you’re in my prayers. God will not allow evil to triumph over good for much longer. Hold on your delivery is near.

    Carlos King – Kingston, Jamaica.

  6. 6 VictorK
    January 31, 2008 at 15:37

    Moral and religious leadership only make a difference when addressed to a moral and religious people, which the Kenyans plainly aren’t. It is absurd to blame religion or the churches for what’s happening in Kenya when the culprits are ordinary Kenyans (and how it hurts certain ideologues not to be able to blame the elite this time given that the violence is all down to the masses! One of the callers a few days ago complained that only poor people were dying, not the rich – well, only poor people are doing the killing, and the rich in Kenya, as in most countries, have enough sense to keep their distance from the poor).

    John Anthony may be interested to know that the letters A U and U N can be taken together and re-arranged to spell I M P O T E N C E.

  7. 7 taha said
    January 31, 2008 at 15:52

    thanks ABDA for the point you made. i agree with you that religious leader should do something to stop this tumoil in Kenya otherwise we’re going to have an another Rumanda.

  8. 8 carlos King
    January 31, 2008 at 15:56

    VictorK, you need to do some background research before you comment on issues or make a such bold statements like “only poor people are doing the killing”. Have you ever heard the word accomplice?

    The criminals, killers, gunners have their own agenda, some are opportunist, some are acting on behalf of the rich and others are just plain evil and blood thirty. What is happening in Kenya is extremely complex. It has is genesis in colonialism- the master of divide and rule strategy.

    The Kukuyus were given the land and with it wealth and the other tribes were given the spoils. This is inequitable.

    The solution to violence is FORGIVENESS and the willingness of people to be fair and share. None of us came into this world with anything and it is certain we will leave it with nothing. We all need to learn to share the world’s resource, provided by God, Kenyans need to learn this lesson. Until this is done, no peace will be found in Kenya.

    CarlosKing- Kingston, Jamaica

  9. 9 pendkar
    January 31, 2008 at 16:04

    Abda is right. No matter what the sceptics say, I have seen that churches(especially the protestent denominations) are good community builders. They have a reach into the community at the grassroots level and are likely to contain responsible people. The kenyan churches need to address the tribalism that has flared up. They need to reconcile tribes in a visible way. And looking at the way the situation is worsening, they need to get started with some constructive activism.

  10. January 31, 2008 at 16:28

    Hi there!
    Abda you are mistaken this is “Africa” religious leaders have no role to play in politics and conflicts ,if they are involved then expect the worse .This is a country with a diverse number of believers from different religions,and remember these people are never taken serious here in Africa.Political matters should be solved by politician and Africans them selves no other third party.

    Did you hear the opposion or ruling party suggesting areligious leader? Like Biships,Pop among others for peace and reconciliation?

  11. 11 gary
    January 31, 2008 at 17:36

    Hello All,
    Religious leaders are usually no more moral than their flocks. Or put another way, the occurrence of immoral behaviors within Kenya is compelling evidence of the failure of religious leaders to have taught fundamental morality in the first place.
    Why imagine that their intervention could now be positive? This seems to me grasping at straws.

  12. 12 VictorK
    January 31, 2008 at 17:39

    So, Carlos, it is all the fault of the British? How pathetic!

    There is a position that can be called ‘Classic Racist’ when it comes to Africa and Africans. The key tenets of this stance are that
    *the African lacks the capacity for self-government
    *the African can only live successfully under the guidance of a more advanced race
    *the African cannot be held responsible for his behaviour like the men of other races, since the African possesses only the mental and moral competence of a boisterous child

    And the inevitable conclusion of these tenets is that when dealing with African matters look for solutions and explanations from anywhere and anyone but never from Africa or from Africans. After all, why factor into the problem people who are by nature unsuited to assume responsibility, deliver results, or be held accountable? The African, from this racist perspective, is nature’s ward of court.

    Now, Carlos, in Kenya Africans have, of their own free will, chosen to engage in violence and bloodshed. When you post to say that Kenyans are not responsible for their own acts, and that the true explanation, and the real responsibility, for what they are doing lies not with them but with the British, what do you think you are really saying? Doesn’t your position boil down to this:
    *the Kenyan is not truly able to govern himself; he is really governed by the acts of British colonial adminstrators, despite having had decades of independence in which to nullify or correct those acts
    *the Kenyans’ failure to live successfully under his own self-government is because he is in thrall to the superior influence of the British master-race, who despite having abandoned the country years ago still counts for more in how it is run than any Kenyan
    *the Kenyan cannot be held accountable for his actions, not when the British adult is still around to blame (however many thousands of miles across the sea he is).

    It is always striking to me how often leftists in defending Africa – as they think – betray their true opinion of Africans, which is indistinguishable from that of racists: the African is inferior.

    Either Kenyans are responsible for what is happening in Kenya. If they are not, then the position of racists is vindicated and the African is not the equal of other races of men. It’s as simple as that. I blame Kenyans for what’s happening in their country. Perhaps you’d like to re-consider your view?

    And to be absolutely clear: the people hacking others to death with machetes and burning them alive in churches are not businessmen or university professors or accountants or hereditary tribal chiefs: they are the poor and working class of Kenya. As much as it may pain leftists to acknowledge it, there are some evil acts in this world that are not to be blamed on the rich, the educated or the well-born.

  13. 13 John D. Anthony
    January 31, 2008 at 17:48

    I’m saying these organizations SHOULD step in before it becomes another Rwanda, not that I EXPECT them to.
    I DO expect that if the killing widens into a full scale ethnic cleansing both parties will spend their energies wringing their hands and arguing about who is responsible for the refugees.

  14. January 31, 2008 at 17:50

    Hi to WHYS marvellous team and Hi to you Abda ! In my opinion the solution to the current crisis in Kenya is by encouraging the feeling of a UNIFIED KENYAN IDENTITY among citizens of Kenya ! My question to Abda : How can we (in your opinion ) revive the feeling of KENYAN PATRIOTISM among ordinary Kenyans ?! With my love ! Yours forever…. Lubna !

  15. January 31, 2008 at 18:00

    Hello WHYS,

    I am Zambian living in Germany and I got the breaking news this morning about the death of a MP in the opposition party in Kenya. Its sad that this violence in Kenya have gone too far that no one is safe if those in power can be gunned down by police. This proves that no one is secure and every life is in danger in Kenya starting from a baby to the elderest person in society. For how long shall we look aside and wait that things will normalize. Slowly this is turning into more ethnic violence. Can the AU or whatever strong security organisation intervene before more lifes are lost meaningless. How many should die before action can be taken. I appeal to AU to send troops to Kenya like Dr. Julius Mwalimu Nyerene and Dr. Kenneth Kaunda did to ouster Idi Amin in Uganda. Though this time the mission will be different I presume action is now before the whole region get in turmoil. Its worthwhile to recount the votes or call refresh e lections this will calm the hearts of those who think they have been deprivedof victory.

    Sad African, Isaac

  16. January 31, 2008 at 18:00

    There’s isn’t. Religious leaders in Kenya took sides during the last year’s General Election. The Head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Cardinal John Njue, is perceived to have supported the government when he disparaged Majimboism (Federalism) which the opposition was agitating. Other bishops, especially from opposition strongholds of Kisumu and Eldoret, broke ranks saying Njue’s views were his and didn’t reflect consensus of the Catholic faith. These are the folks the country is looking upon for spiritual nourishment, and to act as the bridge between the government and the opposition. Their efforts are bound to fail because of their past political partisanship.

  17. January 31, 2008 at 18:01

    There is no Kenyan moral leadership. While the two bastards who are disputing the election talk peace and reconciliation and drink tea they urge their followers to hack people up with machetes. Might makes right, right?

    The only moral leadership in Africa is Rev. Des Tutu and Pres. Nelson Mandela and we haven’t heard anything out of them. You certainly can’t look to the likes of people like Sam Doe, Chuck Taylor, Bob Mugabe, Mu (never promoted to General) Gadaffi, Hoz Mubarak or any one else for an offer of mediation or peace keeping forces. They just don’t care.

    Rob Briggs
    Montgomery, Texas

  18. January 31, 2008 at 18:11

    more and more people are insinuating the begining of genocide in kenya. i wonder what the bishops and pastors are because the people that do these killings are church members.

  19. January 31, 2008 at 18:17

    Kibaki and Odinga must go for a re~run. Come on USA AND BRITAIN intervene.
    Temwani Mbale of Zambia

  20. January 31, 2008 at 18:18


  21. January 31, 2008 at 18:22

    I think the crises in kenya has gone out of the control of the two main contenders over the Dec. elections. it is time for the community and religious leaders to step in and stop this killings. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

  22. January 31, 2008 at 18:23

    Religious leaders should come clean on the situation in kenya. They should be seen acting and stop blaming other institutions.
    Augustine Korir. Bomet, Kenya

  23. January 31, 2008 at 18:25

    Is the crisis in kenya not worth a minute s silence at the start of each game in ghana? Africa’s focus is there!
    Peter Kambalu,Lilongwe, MALAWI.

  24. January 31, 2008 at 18:28

    Britney who? Please don’t bother with tabloid news.

    Please keep the religious leaders out. The last thing they need is the divisiveness of ancient myths.

    Oregon, USA

  25. January 31, 2008 at 18:29

    The people of Kenya cannot depend on anyone but themselves to end the violence. Even if the religious leaders advocates for peace, it is the people who have to make the final choice. The people need to chose to end the violence.

    KALW, San Francisco

  26. January 31, 2008 at 18:29

    Religious leaders in Kenya have totaly failed us. Charles – Nairobi

  27. January 31, 2008 at 18:30

    With all apologies to Abda and your guests, I fail to comprehend how moral leadership is going to stop a machete-wielding mob intent on killing.

    John in Salem

  28. January 31, 2008 at 18:33

    The religious leaders let us down. They are hypocrites. They should have told off Kibaki clearly.
    FROM ISSA leslie Sankoh, FROM FREE TOWN.

  29. January 31, 2008 at 18:33

    Oh great: now you’ve done Genocide, you can get onto the serious business of Britney – have you no self-respect????? Martin, Amsterdam

  30. January 31, 2008 at 18:35

    It is an issue of food, shelter & clothing. A primal issue. The religious leaders CANNOT DO ANYTHING! #
    Max, Singapore

  31. January 31, 2008 at 18:36

    If religion is as helpful in this life as it is in Kenya, why would anyone expect any better in any alleged afterlife?

    Isn’t it time for adults to let go of the imaginary friends of youth and deal with reality straight on?

    Tom D Ford
    Bend, OR

  32. January 31, 2008 at 18:37

    All we kenyans want is peace. I was born in eldoret though I am kikuyu. That’s the only home I’ve known. We had a home, food etc my parents ave worked hard all their life now we are destitute! Where were the religious leaders?
    Wambui, kirathimo idp camp.

  33. January 31, 2008 at 18:43


  34. January 31, 2008 at 18:44

    They have failed us. They saw votes stolen and they kept quiet. I wish they were spiritual than trible. Gilbert Nairobi.

  35. 35 viola anderson
    January 31, 2008 at 19:17

    Well, I think Victor has said what needed to be said, although he is a bit harsh in his indictment of poor people. Responsible, intelligent leaders understand the necessity of taking into account and acting in one way or another to prevent the quite natural resentment of poor people who feel they may never have an opportunity to achieve a bit of economic success. I read once that the powers that control a people or a nation have two choices: to quell the resentment and anger brutally with police, armies, etc., or to attempt to achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth through institutional reform and the creation of opportunities to achieve that bit of economic success. I wonder if Kenya’s leaders have given those issues any thought or if it is just business as usual and getting on with the power struggles and getting as wealthy as possible while doing so.

  36. 36 ISAAC
    February 1, 2008 at 06:18

    hi all, it allsuddening to see kenya turning to the likes of somali and sudan. kenya was and i still believe is a peace loving nation with very worderful people. where the trible cleansing come from, nobody knows……….maybe a few big kenyans can tell us. about the clergy…its all a matter of kinsmenship…..another day they were divided on which side to take. some advocated for rerun of the election. as a clergyman they were supposed to advocate for peace at this critical moment of kenya history.
    pliz kenyans stop the killings…

    from kenya..

  37. February 1, 2008 at 07:39

    Kenya should learn from her neighboring countries like Sudan , Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda who have gone through untold stories of war. those who suffer in war are not politicians but the common man in the village suffers. As a Sudanese who has been a resident in Kenya for 15 years in refugee, I feel so much touched and affected as individual who have had an experiences in Sudan and have now lost Kenyan friends by this ethnic war leaving alone the effect on the regional economy by this war.

    Kenyan population should also learnt that, politicians are the cause of wars in Africa and infact the World at large and should practices who co-exist as citizens of the country. My question is, Can a country not live without politicians?

    Creating another Magadisho in Kenya is not an exception, Kibaki should step down to pave way for negotiation and stop the unrest in the country. Kenya is suffering and the region is suffering. please give us the peace that have prevailed in Kenya for many years and now destroyed in one month. the 5 years credibility the government had since they took over was of a great value but this lost just in a month when elections were disputed and added over by the mass ethnic cleansing.

    African are also quiet, what is it that makes Union of the Africa? must you seek western interventions to solve your problems in Africa? get your axes and bring in a collective African police to restore law and order in Kenya. the Kenyan police has become part of the problem so, they are not anymore trusted to maintain security in Kenya specially when a police officer shot to death a lawmaker.

    Garang Ajou
    Juba, Southern Sudan

  38. 38 john in germany
    February 1, 2008 at 09:04

    Hi John in Salem.

    In that they do their homework and put more effort from the beginning with the children, and in the family. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, to which is the only religion.

    Less of what people should do before marriage, and more about loving your neighbours, care and respect for people of other religions and ways of life. No one in this world has the right to say my religion is the only one. It is known that folks praying to stones, but keeping to the laws of their beliefs, got on very well with neighbours. and had a stable society.

    If the churches stop wrangling, that would be a start.

    John in Germany

  39. 39 Wycliffe Rachuonyo
    February 1, 2008 at 11:04

    The religious leaders in Kenya are divided along tribal lines hence lack moral authority to mediate.

  40. 40 George USA
    February 1, 2008 at 19:36

    It’s just a stolen election folks.

    You are all trying to make this something profound.

    It is not, just bloody.

    Dictatorships are like that.

  41. 41 Vernon
    February 2, 2008 at 16:06

    Can someone tell me if the Kikuyus speak a different language to the other tribes or what are the distinguishing features between the tribes that makes one identify and hate the other? This sort of thing will end in making South Africa’s apartheid seem preferable if they go on like this. At least the English speakers didn’t burn down Afrikaners’ homes either.

  42. 42 ISAAC
    February 6, 2008 at 10:48

    to george:

    your must be able to classify between a stolen election and people who must win no matter what: way is palnned for the chaos to occur or not?…….that a question i have been asking myself of the time:

  43. 43 Dennis
    May 11, 2008 at 22:13

    Kenya’s elections were “stolen” by deceit……

    –Dennis from Madrid, U.S.A.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: