KENYA’S MASHUJAA DAY: WHAT THE KENYAN CHURCH NEEDS TO NOTE

HEALING THE NATION

9d1d949d54fe5da881068f6145aa1791.jpg

Hey everyone, how are you all? I am so happy to be back here. I just hope that for those of you who’ve been following me, will take the time to forgive my absence. I have been trying to re-adjust to school life and I am so glad that I can now use this blog to impact, challenge and motivate my followers. Please do not feel left out or neglected, I am back and I’m here to be that blessing to many who read my posts. Remember, feel free to hit me up so that we could share and discuss these issues at a personal level. Love you all!

Now, here we are, Kenya is celebrating yet another Mashujaa Day. The air is filled with excitement as every citizen of Kenya rejoices in the fact they are still an independent country thanks to its heroes. These heroes are what are known in Swahili as “Mashujaa”. These are the men and women who fought for the country’s independence from the British colonial rule…every one of these men and women are revered for their roles in the struggle.

The country’s heroes suffered greatly. Not only were our country’s beloved heroes beaten up, flogged, thrown in prison and persecuted, they endured! Give them credit where it is due, they never backed down even opting to lose their lives rather than live under oppression. And whether or not the country today realizes this, these great men and women defined the nature of Kenyan pride, philosophy and identity. We are undivided. We are one! We refuse to live under the yoke of oppression even that which originates from our own people. This very point, the church in Kenya understood.

In the second stage of gaining Kenya’s freedom, key church leaders stepped up to challenge unjust systems in the country’s governance. Not only did they rise up to speak, they, like the Heroes before, made a scene about it and suffered greatly for it. They did not relent, but they stood for one truth: The Gospel’s message was freedom from sin and injustice and the mere existence of the church in the country ought to reflect that fact. How incredible?

Here were a class of senior, revered ministers of the Gospel who did not esteem their positions higher than their true callings as followers of Jesus but let themselves suffer for the rest of the country to experience true freedom. It is no small feat to achieve such a treasured thing as freedom, but it is sad when the heart and values of those before are not seen to trickle down into today’s crop of leaders and ministers. But let it be said now, There is hope and someone reading this might agree and find him/herself to be that hero that the Kenya today needs.

The struggle is still not over until we are truly one in heart, mind, agenda and identity.

When the Chips Fall

MLK JR.jpg

What Africans are Learning from the Pursuits of Men like Dr. Martin Luther King

Hey there people! It feels like ages but I am so glad that I got an opportunity to share something on this sensitive topic. First and foremost, Happy New Year, or as we would say in my country Baraka za Mwaka Mpya Kwenu (Blessings of the new year to you all)!

As the first post on my blog, I want to set the pace for a series of thought-provoking and inspiring pieces throughout the year. This is the first of many that I hope will get the world thinking a little bit more of my voice as a member of the black-African community.

For a long time now, people of African descent have been identified every now and then as “African”; a clear example of this is seen in it’s use as an adjective to describe members of the black community who reside in the US, naming them “African Americans”. As okay as it sounds, it isn’t the full story surrounding the terminology.

African American is not necessarily a substitute for the indicator of people group. Black is the race, African is related to the continent and as such does not make an excellent substitute for the truth. Our identity is black. The question then remains, why do we escape it so?

I was privileged enough to hear from people who have had negative encounters with some people from other racial backgrounds and what they have observed is worth noting. One of the first things that they observed is that black is associated with the worst things imaginable (think about it a little bit…’black plague’, ‘black coal’, ‘black sludge’). I’m sure you get the point. It is very hard to associate oneself with that word…and what seems to happen is that these negative connotations associated with the color itself are somehow pasted onto those whose skin is labeled black or dark (note the words used). This is how Africa itself gained its identity as the ‘Dark Continent’…not a cool name.

But should we run? Martin Luther King Jr showed the African American community–no, scratch that!–the world! That race does and can never determine one’s contribution to society (content of an individual’s character supersedes the color of one’s skin). It is on this very basis that black as a color has over the years been associated with cool, hip, fun and stylish…and it is on this very basis that my fellow black people ought to realise that there is hope for our people. Not because of change of use of the word black, but because of the potential of the black community to be more (so far I feel like we have been up to a lot of “doing”). We are either getting hyped up about immediate wealth/riches or clinging to titles or forms of power.

In us uniting and working together, we can show the world what we are made of as fellow citizens of the world and coequal members of the human race. Africa is probably the richest continent but we underestimate it because we underestimate ourselves. Racial slurs and awful history has affected us negatively and it doesn’t matter whether you were born in Africa or in the West…we’ve suffered but here we are. It’s about time we own our identity as one people and stop bickering and allowing divisions of no consequence to destroy us.

We know pain, we know labor and we know intelligence. How can we let divisions reign in our midst…we are one! All other races ought to work together in like fashion and help destroy the chains that have kept us in fear.

In Jesus’ words, let us love one another…

MY BLOODY SHABBAT

WHY THE INJUSTICE FACED BY NON-WHITES IS DISTURBINGLY FAMILIAR AND A PAINFUL NEO-MITSRAIM WITH ONE HOPE

“I’m down to get killed for the real that I speak…black boys calling me white, white boys be calling me nigger; I ain’t fitt’n in my skin is havin’ me feelin’ disfigured”

-Sevin

Illuminate-Eracism-622x330.png

It’s enough. This shabbat, I feel it’s about time we took this matter seriously. There’s blood being shed and though it may be from a few individuals now, it’ll be from more later. Nothing in history has demonstrated that a disregard for any man/woman because of his or her race has ever ‘gone away’. Let’s face it, the issue of race is an old question and it has always provoked certain feelings. I get that. I know that for a fact, that although I am black African, I can still feel the pain experienced by fellow people of color. We witnessed in Africa such a brutality in colonial days that marred our African identity and culture in a way that’s virtually irreparable.

I’m reminded of the intentional use of the word ‘Mitsraim’ as a descriptive word for ancient Egypt under Ramses. The word itself is a play on the Hebrew word for suffering–a word echoing pain, torment, devaluing. I am Christian, evangelical studying in a Christian Evangelical school that is seeking to find that African identity that was lost when other cultures were imposed upon us. Seeing us as somewhat backward, unintelligent and incapable, we got ‘re-created’ in the western image and no matter what some historians state, we were not ‘Christianized’ we were de-valued and robbed of our African identity [Bert Gary, a biblical scholar based in Israel actually raises the question that attacks what we know as ‘western Christianity’, he asks in his book, Jesus Unplugged, “There is much emphasis in the church today–by laity and clergy–on being respectable, nice and presentable. Yet where in Scripture did Jesus say that we should make being well-dressed and well-behaved priorities? Is the Church guilty of reducing Christianity to mere social etiquette? The Jesus of Scripture rejected these priorities with both word and deed”]. It’s no small wonder that Africans who branched off from missionary-established churches to form indigenous African Churches that sought to ‘Africanize’ the Christian Gospel were looked upon with suspicion. Also, the educated elite, who sought to restore authority and governance back to Africans had one motive…to educate and elevate the status of their own–still they did so with so much pain.

It’s heartbreaking that it’s because of this that we as Africans have it so ingrained in us to fight and steal in order to have our identity in and through what we own. What’s even more terrible about this is that the leadership that we are right now seeing in Africa that is so torn and broken (I purposefully won’t say corrupt because that is not the real problem) is in this state because of nil-succession in leadership and a lack in communicating how it was understood by our fore-fathers since it was largely disregarded in favor of a ‘better’ western model? What! We no longer have real respect and value for what our fore-fathers gave us, what do we want to be? Big businessmen, wealthy earners, empty individuals–not just spiritually but mentally; ask these same individuals what they hope to do with all their acquired wealth and status and you’ll swear that you can hear a pin drop in the room because of the silence. It’s only as I was growing up, that I got to understand the saying; “If you want to hide anything from an African, put it in a book” because we truly have lost our love for knowledge and wisdom, we now chase the wind till our great grand children can feel the hollowness of our vain pursuits.

We are in such a prison mentally that conquering the modern African child’s mind is just that, child’s play. How long can we stand and casually watch? How long do we here in Africa have before we experience what our counterparts in western countries are facing right now? Have we truly forgotten the price paid for our freedom? Have we indeed forgotten that injustice anywhere, is really and truly a threat to justice everywhere? Are we going to let the blood of those before us become worthless because of how we handle our so-called freedoms? How much more so the blood of the very Son who tread African soil when he sought refuge from Herod–the very Son who was nailed to the cross because of injustice? Do we even care? [I actually like what Lecrae Moore pointed out in an interview last year about how bad things have become in society. When asked about where are we going wrong, he pointed out that we merely observe the evils around us and criticize them but when asked to do something about it, we can’t, why? It doesn’t affect me].

Are we so blinded by watching all the glamour of the artists and celebrities–most of whom are colored, selling us ‘the good life’ on TV but living lives that are in no way close to good? Are we all letting the lives of the youth, the fathers and the elderly go down to the grave in vain because ‘it doesn’t involve us’? Is the blood of a colored individual that worthless? As someone so disturbingly pointed out on an interview in a popular UK show, “Why do the former enemies of the commonwealth, the descendants of Nazi Germany have it easy in matters migration, but those of African race/descent are treated as outcasts and terrorists yet their forefathers helped their forefathers in the WWII…a white man threatening death is said to be ‘demonstrating terrorist inclinations when he’s about to blow up a plane..a black/colored individual is thought to be a terrorist and a roach?’ Seriously, world, what’s going on here??

Shabbat reminds me of the battle the Lord waged against Egypt, her injustice and her gods. That battle freed the Israelites and showed them that God truly sees and he’s the giver of identity; giving Israel her first sweet exchange, being for worthlessness. Making out of a distorted psyche, a renewed perspective. They are made human beings when God decrees this day as a day to sit, reflect and delight in God; a day when they truly realize that they are defined by God. Then comes the rest of the spirit…negro spirituals have plenty to say about this. They speak of a hope in the midst of the storm, a longing for peace and rest for their souls…the cry for liberty. In comes the living Shabbat, Jesus suffers a cruel trial, dies a merciless, unjust death and rises triumphant. There’s nothing better than this message; that in the darkest depths of our despair here and now, our Jewish non-western Messiah breathed hope to us. He offers us a different kind of rest, not merely one that ignores the world and the suffering but one that guarantees us victory, even as we rise to the occasion and speak and act in love to those who hate us without reason…he has shown us that he has triumphed over the fallible governments of this world for his rules over all and one day, he’ll show it to all the world, that no man of no race is superior to the other for one Man trumps all.

I am by no means racist, but eracist. For I believe the Bible that tells me that before the Judge of all the earth…”there is no male or female, no Jew nor Gentile, no slave or free…all stand equal before him”. I am an eracist. This means that I believe in the equality of all because that’s exactly how we were created.

“Head up, while I’m walking in the MOB, people part like the Red Sea was it the color they saw? They clutching to their purses, as if I was young and thirsty like my people went an’ hang onto branches in front churches. They treat us like colored skin was made of sin and deemed worthless, my heart ain’t bad but can’t get past what they see on the surface, I tell ’em ‘God bless you’ and just keep walking in public, they take it in but no relief from the hurting, still getting pulled over, beaten up, illegally searched, cousin still got killed by cops…what’s done in the dark will rise to the surface”

-Faith Pettis

MUHAMMAD ALI: WHAT KENYA CAN LEARN

WHY HISTORY IS MADE BY THE UNEXPECTED, NOT JUST THE HOPEFULS

ali_mirror_final_3560526k.jpg

“An unjust law is no law”

-St. Augustine

“A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There is a blanket of gloom that seems to have come over the world as it mourns a dear child of its own who passed away recently. Muhammad Ali; a man of his own time. He was untamed and unfettered; in the face of difficulty in the history of the African American people, he stood for something. That is a forgotten element of society today. Looking at his story as an African Christian from Nairobi, Kenya, I realize now that he embodied the meaning of being the difference that he sought to see in the world.

Declaring from the beginning, his pride in his identity as a black man at a time when many struggled with their African American identity, he paved the way for change that was never before witnessed. We now see the need for the world to have more like him. His stance is the pedestal of the world’s greatest; a title that he proudly took on for himself. Let’s take a glimpse at history, more specifically revolutionary figures who’ve fought for justice on issues regarding discrimination and injustice; Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and now Muhammad Ali…just to name a few.

These individuals showed the world that the way to defeat oppression is by first being free, standing above their circumstances. In the way they lived, they realized that the way to solving the issues of society was by first identifying the underlying problem: injustice. It’s odd how injustice is an issue in nearly all religions. In my own, Christianity, justice/injustice is said to be the “foundation of Yahweh God’s throne”. It is because of God’s zealous desire to see justice done through offering up Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice in order to allow mankind to enjoy freedom, as it is written, “in him we live and breathe and have our being (i.e. no longer slaves)”.

Now, in my identity as a black man from Africa, more specifically Kenya–a land that is well conversant with oppression and slavery, I understand what it means to be a fourth generation youth who is now battling to find his voice in a society that is still being plagued by the issues of the past. Not only is injustice an issue, social unrest and corruption still plague Kenya like a three-headed Hydra. Each time a head is cut off, as the saying goes, two others take up their place. These issues are not issues that I blame the leadership for; they are issues that I blame the darkness that has invaded and penetrated every sphere of life in my society.

The lesson? Kenya needs individuals who need to stand proudly as one nation in diversity. For whereas we have as a people conquered one battle on paper, we are yet to conquer one battle crucial battle, the battle of our national psyche. May we realize that standing proudly as Kenyans will lead us to stand united as a people.

“We are the only people that I know of that have a prayer as a national anthem”

-Unknown