And so we come to another election

Four and a half years ago and newly arrived in Kenya to undertake peace-building work we were caught up in a whirlwind exercise of visiting areas where the 2007 election had resulted in violence in the community.

Longstanding followers of our blog will recall what we then wrote about how Kenya held its breath and finally rejoiced after the 2013 election took place without violence. Although we are now based back in the UK, our Kenyan colleagues in civil society have kept us up to date with current developments. We write this blog entry in solidarity with them, albeit no longer resident in Kenya but carrying them all in our hearts and prayers.

And so we come to another election, on August 8th, and tensions are running high.

On the one hand, the ruling Jubilee coalition is calling for 5 more years, “tano tena”, while the challenging party, NASA, is talking about about Kenyans entering Canaan, the promised land, once elected.

It is no accident that politicians of all stripes use Biblical language. Kenya is after all, a religious nation, with very high levels of church attendance.

Biblical memes offer useful rallying points and slogans.

Our leaders are ever willing to prey upon our baser instincts, and we are ever willing to be ruled by both.

Many of our leaders work upon our Lowest Common Denominators instead of our Highest Common Factors, to borrow a metaphor from arithmetic.

Hate speech has again raised its toxic head, not only in social media, but also on the lips of some leaders in public speeches in Uasin Gishu and Nandi County.

Not that different from the hate speech that litters the social media in the UK and US, actually – as evidenced by the recent out-poured vitriol about the Charlie Gard case, and also disgraces the pages of some tabloids.

And thus tensions are ratcheted up another notch.

People have left Nairobi and other mixed areas to return to their “homelands”, seeking safety in numbers. The Government urges them not to do this, promising protection that is likely to prove illusory.

Why do we allow ourselves to be played in this way? Why do we so often fall for empty promises and venomous propaganda?

Instead of the kingdom of God on earth, we see Empires of the Elite, and not just in Kenya.

Perhaps at the same time as we consider the relative virtues – and vices – of our candidates and their parties, we should also soberly consider our own.

And ponder what we can do to stop ourselves from pandering to corrupt power blocs; instead facing up to inconvenient facts and unpalatable truths.

As a religious nation, Kenya is  called to prayer. Prayer is good, but prayer alone is as impotent as a man with a shovel who never starts digging.

Voting against our self- interest might be good point to start.

As ever, our colleagues in Kenya urge the various communities to pursue peace and this video  is an amusing yet powerful vehicle for that message.

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Springtime

When Liza was growing up her parents had a print in their living room of a famous painting of springtime in Paris…..in fact it still hangs today above the mantelpiece in Liza’s Mum’s flat. It was always a source of hope to look at it- … Continue reading Springtime

Distribution Diary 18.2.17

This Wheels for the World team was our largest yet and it was so good to meet some new team members and also to welcome back familiar faces, several returning for their third visit. They worked tirelessly. Well to be honest as it was at the end of their trip they were already quite tired but so utterly professional, cheerful and caring.

As ever there were some very complex cases- one child had to be sent away to await another year’s distribution as we didn’t have a wheelchair which could be properly adapted.

However as in previous years we found that some of the more specialist chairs were just right for certain clients, a scenario which always has a very special sense of providence. We served all our visitors lunch and they were able to receive counselling and prayer if they so wished.

There were many tears but many more smiles and we are deeply thankful to have been able to play our part in helping to meet the needs of a very marginalised group of people.

Without doubt, hope prevails. As one of the members of the CBR Board of Trustees said:

“A bird builds its nest one piece of grass at a time”

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The team arrive
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Always very exciting to actually see the wheelchairs
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The therapist and interpreter work with the client to achieve the best possible fit
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The technical team make adjustments to the wheelchair to customise it to the individual client
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One very happy little girl!

 

Distribution Diary 10.2.17

This first week has flown by- we’ve achieved a lot so I’m tired but happy as I go into the weekend. Revd. Evelyn and I worked together to collate the client assessment forms which she has been completing over the last few months. I then identified which wheelchairs we might need and sent the information on to the Wheels for the World team who are now safely ensconced at Kimilili.

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I had a wonderful reunion on Tuesday with our friend Revd. Maritim Rirei. (On the right)

He was our mentor when we first arrived in Kenya in 2012 and our colleague during all our initial peace work here. He has returned to Kenya from South Africa where he was doing research for his Doctorate and he is now teaching at St Paul’s Theological College in Kapsabet. I brought over some books for the students and have been invited to visit the college during my final week here to present the books and give a talk on “The Holistic Mission of the Church”.

Thankfully the talk will be in English as that’s the language used in higher education here. So in addition to preparing for and helping to carry out the wheelchair distribution, I will now need to find time to think about what on earth I will say to those poor students….

Kenya is currently holding its breath and waiting for the long rains. There are already considerable food shortages in the more arid areas as the last rains were not sufficient. This is always a stressful time for those farmers who don’t have irrigation and it’s currently a matter of urgent prayer in all the churches.

One final piece of very special news. Our grandson Huxley has had his feeding tube removed and Christina and James will hopefully be taking him home soon- it’s four weeks today since his very traumatic arrival in this world. Much rejoicing from all of us!