I hope my Kenyan brothers and sisters are REALLY watching

As we celebrate the victory of “your son,” (Kenya Declares a National Holiday) I hope you pay close attention to the details.

  • People voted across ethnic lines (at least in many places).
  • Ballots were quickly and ACCURATELY counted, and the results released immediately.
  • The loser graciously conceded, and both candidates put the campaign rhetoric aside and praised their opponents.
  • There was no violence.

I know the circumstances here last year were difficult and different; we had our disputed election this decade too.

In 2012 your American son will be up for re-election, and both of our nations will be voting. For that election to be successful here, attitudes and systems need to begin changing now in preparation- “change you can believe in; the change we need” (I’m referring especially to ethnicity as a political tool and systems of accountability.)

So savor the moment, and let’s work towards making 2012 a celebration for all of us.

The Daily Nation editorial perhaps says it best: Lessons for Africa from US elections.


Kenyan help for Obama election (cartoon)

Today’s Standard Cartoon [sorry, by the time you click this link there will be a new cartoon]

UPDATE: I have taken down this cartoon. It’s one thing for those of us who live in Kenya to share an inside joke going into the election (it was from the local paper), but as the hits on this post  began to rise over the last couple of days–long after the election, I began to suspect that it might be feeding racist stereotypes.

Don’t mess with Obama in Kenya or you’ll be deported (Corsi)

Everyone is welcome to visit Kenya’s gameparks; just don’t try to slander Obama while you are here. I didn’t see the TV news last night (don’t own a TV), but today The Standard writes Drama as anti-Obama author is deported:

. . . An attempt by anti-Obama crusaders to launch a smear campaign ended in a dramatic anti-climax when an American author was bundled out of Nairobi, moments before he could launch his book, The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and The Cult of Personality. Dr Jerome Corsi, a Republican, was declared persona non grata and deported last night after earlier being detained by Immigration officials. The charge… engaging in illegal activities in Kenya. . . “They violated terms of the visitor’s pass by engaging in a business and marketing of his book. They required a special permit to do business,” a top Immigration source said.

Read all about it in the Standard’s article or the Daily Nation’s version (it gets better) and now even the NY Times and the Washington Post.

Here is The Standard‘s cartoon for today – 8 October:

Immigration officer leads Corsi away

Thanks for the heads up, Simon. I would have missed it.

Two American couples blitz Nairobi (interesting new blogs)

Two new American couples have just moved to Nairobi and have great blogs about their experiences. The Mertes Family Blog (Luke, Liesel, and Ada June ) and Mzungu learning in Africa (Tiffany, Jake, and Asante Malloy). Jake is studying translation at NEGST.

Tiffany posts the first few days in Africa and pictures of their apartment which is more or less like ours: pictures of our new home, and more pictures.

Here’s are a few examples from the Merte’s first few exciting days in Nairobi.

Shoes and Stones: . . . “So there I was, driving down the street, and they were firing tear gas…they even pulled down the power lines! Sparks were everywhere and I thought to myself, ‘I have to get out of here.’ They were throwing stones and there were shoes and clothes and fruit all in the streets. Me, I was even prepared to leave my car. There were people running everywhere. I came this close to hitting a man,” [Welcome to Nairobi ;-)] –

OR: The matatus of Nairobi reflect the panache and flair of individual drivers. The exteriors are often splashed in bright colors, bearing slogans like “Heaven-bound”, which is ironic considering that I daily read stories from the Standard about individuals killed as a result of matatu crashes. Yesterday, Luke and I walked by a matatu that had “To God be the Glory” written in letters that were dripping with blood.

Yesterday, we saw a most improbable sight as we prepared to cross Ngong road on our way back to the Kitololos. As we stood in the median, awaiting an opportune time to cross, a matatu cruised by blaring ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. We looked after the passing vehicle and saw a man in rollerblades bent at the waist, holding onto the bumper. . . . [Read the rest of Matatus and Microfinance.]

“Messiah Complex: For decades, well-intentioned men and women from around the world have come here thinking that they will save the Kenyans. Save them from spiritual darkness…save them from poverty…save them from HIV and AIDS. NGOs, mission agencies and aid organizations seem to especially flourish here in Nairobi. Truly, there is no shortage of saviors here. . .[BUT not all of them actually “look” like Jesus (Read more of the “Messiah Complex”). It’s not got a nice twist;-)]

Both are bringing back a lot of memories.

What Kenyan Christians can teach Americans about voting

Given Kenya’s disastrous election less than a year ago, it may seem odd to say that Kenyans have anything to say to Americans about elections, but sometimes the best lessons are learned the hard way. Paul Heidebrecht writes:

When I was in Kenya in May, I had many lively conversations with Kenyan Christians about their election—NEGST students, professors, local pastors, ordinary folks—they all spoke passionately about what had happened in their nation. . .

. . . They believed Kenyan Christians had swung from one extreme to the other. For many years Christians had avoided politics because it was seen as corrupt and compromising. The only thing that mattered was “getting saved” and “getting ready for heaven.” But eventually Christians realized that government can’t be left to people without integrity. They had to be engaged. The past few elections saw many more Christians running for office and voting. But church leaders identified themselves too closely with particular parties and their political tactics. This left them without a credible voice when the crisis struck. In some areas of the country, the church was part of the problem, not the solution. . . .

. . . Christians need to be careful with politics. They need to find the right balance. They need to hold firm to higher principles of justice and righteousness. They must ask, What is good for the nation? and not, What is good for me? Nor can they pin their hopes on one party but rather they need to be independent enough to speak respectfully and credibly to all parties.

Pastors especially have to be careful. In most cases, they should avoid endorsing candidates and parties, especially if their congregation has divided loyalties. They should challenge their members to vote and participate in public affairs. They should preach and teach what the Bible says about citizenship in heaven and on earth. . .

. . . Don’t expect too much from government was another lesson learned. Don’t be naïve about politicians. Many are corrupt or susceptible to corruption. The pressure to take care of their supporters and family members is tremendous. Those who have absolute integrity are easily marginalized. Christians must keep calling upon their government leaders to act justly and for the good of all even when it seems hopeless.

. . . churches must tackle the social problems that government leaders won’t face. This means empowering those who live in slums, assisting refugees from other nations, resolving conflicts between antagonistic groups of people, establishing schools, clinics and small business enterprises. . .

Read the whole article: Can Kenyans teach us how to vote

For amazing story of Kenyan pastors leading a prayer march for spiritual cleansing, visit http://www.listeningtoafricanchurchleaders.blogspot.com/  


Judge pays woman’s fine

Growing up, I often heard the analogy of God as the judge who after passing the sentence, takes off his robes and takes the punishment on our behalf. Regardless of what you think of that analogy theologically, I thought you could appreciate this real-life story from today’s Standard – Woman’s fine paid by magistrate by Maureen Mudi

There was a light moment yesterday at the Mombasa Law Courts when the Chief Magistrate Catherine Mwangi, organised an impromptu fundraiser inside the court for a needy woman she had sentenced to four months in jail or a fine of Sh4,000. . .

. . . “Why didn’t you tell me you had children with you and there was nobody to take care of them? I cannot reverse my judgement now,” she said, to the amazement of those in courtroom. Just as the woman walked out of court into the basement cells, Mwangi called her back and demanded to know why she had not explained her predicament in mitigation.

Mwangi sent the court into prolonged laughter, as she engaged lawyers, the prosecutor and audience in trying to raise the fine. (Who is going to pay your bail? Do you have a relative present? Why did you assault your neighbour and forget you had children to take care of?)

. . . The magistrate paid Sh2,000 while a Mombasa lawyer Yusuf Abubakar paid the remaining Sh2,000.