My heart aches this morning for the East African nation that won my heart in 2000. Violence has erupted as it appears the election may have been stolen by supporters of Mwai Kibaki, the sitting President – backed by the inordinate wealth of former president Daniel Arap Moi. The BBC reports that scores have died in clashes between supporters of Raila Odinga and Kibacki supporters – as well as between Odinga supporters and the police.
Kenya is a nation that views itself through tribal eyes. There are over forty different Kenyan tribes (like the clans of Scotland). Kibaki is a Kikuyu, Odinga a Luo. The Kikuyu are the largest clan in Kenya and spent the years of Moi’s presidency watching the nation being run by his much smaller clan, the Kalenjin. (As one example, the post-office in Kenya when I first went there was completely controlled by members of that tribe – to the annoyance of many of my Kikuyu friends.) Some of the election violence is directly related to clan power.
I remember chatting with a Masai anthropologist while spending time at Amboseli in 2001. This very well educated man informed me that he had no trouble with the tribal nature of Kenyan politics and would expect that when the Masai had power, he would benefit greatly. Being many generations away from my own MacKinnon clan history, I had little understanding of this tribal motivation. (Though I do see it in operation much too often in the church.)
Please pray for this beautiful nation. Pray for governmental integrity. Pray that the church, in a nation that professes to be more than 50% "born again", will speak truth to power. And pray that God’s Will will be done in East Africa, as it is in heaven.
UPDATE: I am stunned by the news of folk seeking refuge being burned in an Assemblies of God church in Eldoret. My first experience of Kenya in 2000 was in shooting a medical missions documentary that began in this city in the west of Kenya. It is the city (at 8,000ft of elevation) where the famous Kenya long distance runners train. It is not a place where I would have expected this to happen – which only shows how little I understand of this African nation I love. Please pray more fervently.