Let State scrap national prayer breakfast event for ‘Unity Day’

What you need to know:

  • There is a need, therefore, to rethink NPB. It’s not such a bad idea. But it has become a bourgeoisie affair, where only the famous, well-heeled and connected are, ironically, invited to a ‘prayer’ breakfast and commoners are left salivating in the slums.

  • This act alone is testament to the lack of compassion in our politics.

  • It explains why the national cake doesn’t trickle down because the leadership is too selfish and inward-looking to share even a breakfast.

Following the proceedings at the recent annual National Prayer Breakfast, I’m convinced that the Kenyan God is Christian. Why, you ask? Because every time I had the opportunity to watch the event held at the expensive Safari Park Hotel (ignore the spiritual irony of the missing church), I was always intrigued by the fact that the guest speaker is drawn from the Christian community.

CORRUPTION

And what’s wrong with that? Everything. In a country with varied belief systems, in a country that deems itself as quasi-secular, it is biased and divisive, to say the least. Above all, it means the Christian community is having too much sway and it explains the challenges other faiths have in ascending to power because they don’t have the numbers and the influence where it matters. That includes having expensive breakfast in a five-star hotel.

Kenyan politics has, surely, stirred and twisted our faiths. Even God is not spared. That of groping at anything to survive Kenyan political mayhem. To paraphrase Tina Turner, what has God got to do with our bruising politics and corruption?

God has been made deaf or refused to listen; otherwise, we would have solved all our problems through national prayers in the 17 years we have been at it. Regardless, God is in the mix, and it depends on which version is trending in your area. The real, modest, all-loving, all-unifying, pauper-embracing one or the million-dollar-tithe-loving one who embraces only the rich, famous and powerful.

NPB is a great idea, but it seems to be reserved for only those in power. Millions of Kenyans have shared their observations as such. I’m not the first. I get the fact it is being organised by Parliament. But is that not a valid reason to include the citizens they purport to represent in one big national breakfast party, where every street and village can come together just this once and share a meal, as a way to thank their voters and unite the country?

Unity should not begin and end with two people shaking hands. That is a symbolic and great, though unclear, start. However, the rest of the country needs to be carried along on this journey of the ‘Handshake’ through countrywide unity.

BOURGEOISIE AFFAIR

There is a need, therefore, to rethink NPB. It’s not such a bad idea. But it has become a bourgeoisie affair, where only the famous, well-heeled and connected are, ironically, invited to a ‘prayer’ breakfast and commoners are left salivating in the slums.

This act alone is testament to the lack of compassion in our politics. It explains why the national cake doesn’t trickle down because the leadership is too selfish and inward-looking to share even a breakfast. It also confirms that our leaders hardly think beyond their faith and tribe.

First, it needs to be more about the citizens. They deserve their moment with God at breakfast, too. That this once they can put their problems and differences aside, forget how they are being squeezed and looted and just enjoy freshly-made government-sponsored tea and uji with mandazi.

Anybody who has not had tea and mandazi in a kibanda won’t understand how joyous and uniting it is sitting in a circle on wooden benches and discussing football, funerals, weddings, politics, the price of unga and second-hand clothes. That is where real Kenya is; where real Kenyan issues get discussed.

It might just be worth turning the NPB to a time of appreciating common wananchi and their efforts. Those who trek daily on foot to the factories and lowly paid jobs and hawk in the streets are the backbone of this country. They deserve every recognition, gratitude and free breakfast at least once a year. Labour Day is for workers, but even that has been hijacked for political reasons.

After all the bruising we suffer every election time and our never-ending corruption nightmare, we, the people, deserve a national ‘Happy Day’. Just once, where we can exhale and indulge. I mean a party where every Kenyan from any walk of life can be invited. The bourgeoisie are, of course, invited!

There has been decades of negativity and anger in the country and we need to inject some positivity. Unity Day is what we need to heal our fractured nation — not fake, politicised and divisive prayers!

* * *

Dear MPs. Bullying, intimidation and harassment is sheer abuse of power and not a way to lead a country. Why do you make laws you don’t respect?

Separation of powers means respect for the rule of law and not using the law to muzzle other institutions that disagree with you. You are becoming impunity itself, and what is the rest of us to do?

You are gulping wine and denying the citizens water. It’s time you reflected on where you want to take the country. To success or sewers? You can only choose one.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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