With the holiday season upon us, my mind is in what you might describe as an “idle state”.
I am in no mood to think too much about the war in Somalia; the bloody crackdown on the brave protestors in Egypt; corruption in East Africa; and whether Barack Obama will get re-elected US President in 11 months.
Because Christmas is three days away, I find it easier to reflect on what might happen today if Jesus Christ were alive.
The Palestinian Authority today controls Bethlehem, where Jesus was born in what the chaps in my village would call a kraal.
If the older Jesus Christ, with his long hair, were living in Bethlehem and a Palestinian citizen, when he travelled abroad, he would be looked at suspiciously.
He would be pulled out of line at various airports and questioned on suspicions that he might an “Arab terrorist”, possibly a senior leader of the radical Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
If, however, he had moved and was living in Israel, he would either be a grabber of Palestinian land, or be denounced as a “Zionist” by someone like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
There are two things that happened to Jesus, one when he was a child, and the other as an adult, that I am almost sure would not happen to him today — if he lived in the right country.
The good book tells us that Jesus’s mum, Mary, and “father”, Joseph, fled to Egypt for fear of King Herod.
The story also goes that Pontius Pilate, the representative of the Roman governor in Judea, sentenced Jesus to death. Or rather, he turned Jesus over to the Jewish leaders to be crucified.
Pilate was a calculating bureaucrat/politician, who gave up Jesus, not because he believed him to be guilty of the crimes of treason and blasphemy, but because he was afraid the Jewish leaders would foment revolution in the region if he didn’t. Pilate was a big picture kind of guy.
If all these things had happened in our times, Mary and Joseph would have had the possibility to bribe King Herod’s soldiers, and they would not have had to flee.
And considering that conniving Pilate would be a modern-day Italian official, he might well have had secret links to the Mafia.
Again, a few million dollars wired to his Swiss account would have been enough for him to declare Jesus innocent and arrange for his escape to a safe country.
Jesus could perform all sorts of miracles. He could turn water into wine, multiply loaves of bread, cure the blind, heal the sick, but most critically, raise the dead!
Being a Son of God and a humble man, he did not charge for any of these miracles. Impossible to believe! Today we have quack miracle-healing pastors, witchdoctors, peddlers of fake love potions and cures for infertility, and they charge an arm and a leg for them.
So, if Christ were alive today, he would have to levy a fee for miracle cures. For raising people from the dead, I think the price would be Sh100 million at least. Even I would be tempted to pay for that one.
We all remember the story early this year of Loliondo, a village in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro District in the Arusha region.
Loliondo became famous because it gave the world a man called Ambilikile Mwasapile, a retired pastor from the Lutheran Church. He claimed he was dispensing a miracle drink that cured everything from cancer, HIV/Aids, ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so forth. All it took was one swig of a drink from some boiled leaves.
There was a stampede. People came from far and near. An NTV documentary reported a queue of cars nearly 20 kilometres long. There were rumours of powerful people in Tanzanian leadership arriving in the night, covered in Maasai blankets, to have their ailments cured. A makeshift helicopter pad was cleared out for airborne customers.
The NTV documentary had a doctor who testified that Mwasapile was a quack, but you could see he was afraid because that was not a fashionable thing to say.
If Mwasapile, with his dubious “miracle cure”, could get a waiting queue 20 kilometres long, I think Jesus’s queue today would stretch from Nairobi to, well, Bethlehem.