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Battle for the soul of Kenya’s tainted church

Sunday April 28 2019

Jackson ole Sapit 

Jackson ole Sapit, Archbishop of the Anglican church of Kenya, during a press conference on the role of church in the anti-graft war, at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on April 23, 2019. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

OTIENO OTIENO
By OTIENO OTIENO
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Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit boasts vast experience in spiritual warfare from his many years as a church minister.

But he would still be advised to choose his battles carefully when it comes to the earthly fight against corruption in Kenya.

In a direct confrontation with either Satan or the corrupt Kenyan political elite, the good archbishop probably has more of a fighting chance against the former.

UNAPOLOGETIC

For some Kenyan political leaders enjoy the status of demi-gods among their followers.

And although they publicly profess belief in Christian values, they live them more in their breach than observance.

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It can’t have escaped Rev Sapit that his suggestion last week that churches should reject fundraising donations from corrupt politicians was greeted with more jeers and cheers.

Deputy President William Ruto, whose huge donations in church harambees have been questioned by critics in the past, took to Twitter to suggest that he isn’t about to close the purse strings.

“Since Sunday school we learned to kneel before and worship God… We will continue to worship Jehovah with our hearts and substance. We are unashamed of our God and unapologetic of our faith. We are Christians first, other titles after,” tweeted Dr Ruto.

A number of his allies also came out guns blazing against what they perceive as part of a strategy to scuttle Dr Ruto’s early campaigns for the presidency.

But the greatest weapon the politicians have at their disposal to deploy against Rev Sapit and like-minded clergy happens to be their shared flock.

FIRE SALVOS

Given the blind loyalty a large section of Kenyans show some political dominant leaders in their ethnic communities, one would be tempted to conclude that the majority of Christians among them go to church on Sunday and worship those politicians during the rest of the week.

Last year, another Anglican clergy found himself on the receiving end of personalised attacks after he criticised the ODM party leadership in Nyanza. Bishop James Ochiel, who heads the Southern Nyanza diocese, had blamed blind loyalty to the party led by Raila Odinga for poverty in the region.

Among the rowdy crowd surging forward to fire salvos at the bishop for his courage to speak his mind was a local MP, who challenged Rev Ochiel to form his party to rival ODM in the region.

Of course, the MP only said what everyone else knew already: that ODM enjoys a religious following in Luo Nyanza.

The late Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojode once said that our (read Luo) religion is Raila.

Apart from the ODM party leader, no other Kenyan politician enjoys religious following in his ethnic community like Dr Ruto. And none tops it up with generous donations to churches quite faithfully like the Deputy President. In the battle for the soul of Kenya’s corrupted church, he is fancied to beat Rev Sapit hands down.

[email protected]; otienootieno

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