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How Church in Kenya fostered Uhuru-Raila brotherhood

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA Leader, Raila Odinga now ‘brothers.’ Courtesy photo.

We heard your message of reconciliation –  President Uhuru Kenyatta told top Archbishop, Justin Welby of Canterbury on November 5, 2017.

Welby is just one of several Church leaders who cried out in chorus for reconciliation to resolve the political impasse occasioned by the October 26 presidential poll in Kenya.

Less than four months down the road, Uhuru Kenyatta shows up with NASA leader Raila Odinga at a surprise joint TV address in the capital, Nairobi to say, “we are putting aside our ideological differences to work towards reconciling the country.”

The duo called each other “brother” on Friday, a gesture Uhuru Kenyatta said marks a new beginning for Kenya.

February 19

After a tumultuous and divisive election last year that saw Kenya inaugurate two presidents, the clergy in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies said February 19 they will use the Lenten period to drum up the case for national reconciliation.

The National Lenten season, under the theme “Reconciliation for Peaceful Coexistence and National Integration, Justice for All,”emphasized the desire of the clergy to see Kenya emerge stronger from its current political and ethnic divides.

The group announced that in the second week of lent, “we will deal with the theme of reconciliation.”

“As a Church, we see there is a solution that needs to be facilitated in the form of a conversation, leading to a dialogue. The Church has already placed a theme that entails reconciliation, peaceful coexistence and national integration,” said Alfred Kipkoech Arap Rotich, the country’s emeritus military Bishop.

“The nation is bleeding, and we should work hard to bring it back to shape during this time of Lent,” said Archbishop Zaccheaus Okoth of the Archdiocese of Kisumu.

“God is calling on all Kenyans to come back to Him. In every aspect we should offer our respect to the love of God,” he added.

President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term last November. He won an election re-run in October, which Mr Odinga had boycotted. The opposition figure then decided to swear himself in as “the people’s president,” leaving the nation in a political impasse.

February 9

On February 9, 2018 the National Council of Churches of Kenya warned that the row between the two political figures sharply divided the nation and “may trigger civil war.”

“We especially urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to take to heart the lesson of Isaiah 1: 18, and recognise that the one who has instruments of power is the one who is best positioned to call others and reason with them,” National Council of Churches of Kenya general secretary Peter Karanja said.

The country, the Rev Karanja stated, has remained in a politicking and campaigning mode since 2005, and this had made it unstable, undermined economic development, hindered social service delivery and worsened social-economic inequalities.


ACK bishops and archdeacons at a press conference in Kakamega on Tuesday / HILTON OTENYO

November 9

A total of 15 Anglican Church of Kenya Bishops in a rare move addressed a press conference in Kakamega on November 9, 2017 saying, “we commit, together with other religious leaders to support reconciliation efforts.”

The diocese covers Eldoret, Kapsabet, Kericho, Nambale, Katakwa, Bungoma, Butere, Mumias, Bondo, Maseno West, Maseno East, Maseno South, South Nyanza and Kisii.

‘New Era’

H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and H.E. Raila Odinga are the two leaders who symbolise the many ways in which the country has gone full circle in its divisions. They were witness to the unity and hope that was followed by discord and division.

On his part, NASA leader, Mr Odinga said Friday the political differences that have divided more than four Kenyan generations “must now come to an end.”

“In the fifty-five years since independence, Kenya has constantly sought to live up to its promise and the dreams its founding mothers and fathers had for us. We have strived to build a great nation that is responsive to the urgent need for prosperity, fairness and dignity for all Kenyans. We have achieved a lot but also fallen short of our goals. Our people are crying out for leadership that shows the path to dignity, prosperity and security,” a joint statement from the duo read.

They agreed to launch this initiative that aims to create a united nation for all Kenyans living today, and all future generations.

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