(Most of this was originally written as a lengthy status update on 19th June 2012. It is not a light read; I can feel its weight. It’s made me think, too. Let’s be sober, let’s be honest, and most of all, let’s be READY.)
If one was paying a visit to Kenya between 10th June 2012 and 17th June 2012, one could be forgiven for thinking that Professor George Saitoti singlehandedly fought for, and obtained, Kenya’s independence. I feel genuinely sorry for his grieving widow (a lady about whom I have heard only good things), and for his now fatherless son. Nobody would like to lose a husband/father.
On the other hand, if the late Professor is to be judged on the basis of what he did for (to!) his country, as a national leader, then let us talk plainly. The way in which politicians and the media whitewashed his reputation was disappointing, it was weak, it showed a lack of principle and it was a colossal, monumental lie of omission. It would appear that there are no depths to which one can sink, from which one cannot be magically raised and eulogized as a hero. As Kenyans, let us make a habit of calling a spade a spade. Even aside from Goldenberg, have we already forgotten that the late Professor did not even make it to Parliament in a credible manner this time? He had to flee for his life when irate voters stoned him after it was alleged that mysterious ballot boxes (some even with personal effects like lesos inside them) were appearing during vote-tallying. Before the chaos erupted, his main opponent, the Reverend Moses ole Sakuda, was leading with 9,412 votes. The late minister was “trailing by 4,127 votes from about 40 stations tallied“. The rest is now history. In short, this man in all likelihood cheated his way into Parliament and a ministerial post. In fact, he might not even have died, if he’d been more honest. Yet we bow obsequiously to his memory. We are serfs in our minds, a nation of intellectual slaves.
I also think we are very superstitious; we fear condemning the wrong actions of those who are dead. Why? Shouldn’t we be learning from that, and taking lessons as to how we can better live our own lives? Do we fear being haunted at night? If so, why then do we call ourselves a nation with an 80% Christian population? If it’s the truth, and if it is said with the aim of bringing light and clarity to the matter (not just out of malice/bitterness), there will no harm come to us. Let us be clear, let us be frank, let us be honest, and let us be fearless about the truth.
How did we, as the church, manage to bury the late Professor and not say anything about how he lived his life? Wasn’t this a golden opportunity to remind both ourselves and our fellow citizens that “every one of us shall give account of himself to God?” Where is the truth to be found, any more, if not in the church? Is there no-one left for whom black is black and white is white? No matter how large or how thick the clouds of incense we may have wafted over the late Professor’s coffin, the mists of untruth and falsehood shall never becloud the facts of his public life before a holy God. They shall not becloud the facts of our lives either – whether public or private. May God give us men who can draw that line in the sand between good and bad with neither fear nor favour.
Perhaps we make excuses for others in the hope that excuses will be made for us, when we die. Let me say it again: excepting that Professor George Saitoti repented and sought God before he died, his case is not unique; he is in hell right now for what he did to the people of this nation, among his other sins. And, folks, except we ourselves repent, we “shall all likewise perish.” There is one place where the rules cannot be bent Kenyan-style folks, and that is before the Almighty. Let the late Professor’s passing have two effects upon us:
- Let it make us think deeply about whether it is really worthwhile to live as he lived, amassing wealth (especially at poor people’s expense). All his wealth counts for nothing before God, and anyway, he left it all behind.
- Let it make us reflect on whether we are ready to die as suddenly as he died, and face God ourselves.
Oh God, have mercy upon us. Like Elijah, we say that we are not better than our fathers. Have mercy upon us all! Help us to live lives that can stand up before the scrutiny not only of our fellow man, but also before Your all-seeing scrutiny. The Scripture says that “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” That hour must come for us all, and we know not when it shall come. May the fear of God return to this nation before all is lost. May we learn from Professor Saitoti’s untimely passing that we ought always to be ready. We ask You to help us be ready, always. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.