Kenyans remember struggle, 20 years on

July 7, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7 – Leaders who propelled Kenya through its second liberation gathered in Nairobi on Wednesday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Saba-Saba Day crackdown and urged the Church not to frustrate the ongoing review process.

Led by retired Anglican Archbishop David Gitari, Reverend Timothy Njoya and former legislator Paul Muite, they said it had taken 20 years to get a new set of laws and it was time for Kenyans to rip the benefits of their struggle by passing the proposed Constitution.

"Listen to those who are saying Yes and No and then make your fair decision. I think it is very wrong for any church leader or politician to force people to vote the way they want, it must be an individual decision," he said.

Reverend Njoya who is a retired PCEA moderator told Catholic and evangelical clerics to stick to their pastoral duties saying they had disgraced the church by abandoning their flock to go into politics.

"Christians should resolve to boycott the churches where these pastors have become peddlers of lies no matter the rank.  Go and tell the Pope that is my message," he said.

The event was called by human rights groups to commemorate a Nairobi rally held in 1990 to push for change, when at least 20 people were killed.

Pro-reform politicians Kenneth Matiba, Charles Rubia, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, lawyers John Khaminwa, Mohamed Ibrahim (currently a High Court judge in Mombasa) and Gitobu Imanyara were detained at the time.

During the commemoration, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o described the proposed Constitution as the document that Kenyans have been waiting for as it assures them of quality health, shelter and security.

Mr Imanyara who is now the Imenti Central MP said: "On August 4th we are getting a new Constitution, and I say those who abuse their privileges as men and women of God are on the wrong side of history; those who are working to get a new Constitution are on the right side of history.”

At the same time, Anglican Bishop for Nairobi Diocese Right Reverend Peter Njoka has broken ranks with his church and publicly stated that he is supporting the proposed Constitution.

He castigated his fellow clergy for frustrating the realisation of a new constitutional dispensation.

He said: "Where were you brothers when people were being killed and maimed looking for a new Constitution?  And why is it now that you want Kenyans to miss what they have laboured for?" he asked.

Bishop Njoka, who was the provost of the All Saint Cathedral in 1997, recounted how the paramilitary General Service Unit lobbed tear gas inside the church and beat several demonstrators, including opposition MPs.

He said that the church leaders had no business talking politics to their congregation.

"The Church is not a political body.  The Church is a spiritual body and it has to lead people spiritually, but as a Bishop I should not be following them to Kamukunji grounds to make politics there because that is out of my realm," he said.


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