Friday, October 26, 2007

Archbishop Njue and elusive neutrality

Archbishop Njue yesterday led a group of Catholic bishops and the Episcopal Conference in condemning majimbo. See:

They said it was a recipe for disaster. Although the usual talk of neutrality accompanied his rhetoric, it was clear he was partisan.

Let me explain.

There is a curious remark Njue made in his statement.
"The Catholic Church has members in almost all political parties of Kenya, which is a fruit of democracy. We, as Catholic bishops, therefore, have no preferred candidates but rather our duty is to emphasise the moral aspects of political and social life," said Cardinal-elect, John Njue, who is also the conference chairman.

I do not know when the majimbo debate became a 'moral' issue for the Catholic church. By speaking the way he did, our good Archbishop was insinuating that by supporting majimbo, Catholics who listen to him (estimated at 9 million in Kenya) will be going against the church.

Indeed, if he really wanted neutrality, he would have simply kept quiet.

The majimbo debate is the single most important issue in the election today. It will determine who returns to Parliament and who doesn't, especially between the two main contenders, Kibaki and Raila. Thus by opposing majimbo, Archbishop Njue, now cardinal-elect, loses all claims of neutrality. At the same time, he is patently contradictory.

Njue also recently led Catholics in rejecting minimum reforms. See:

Now I will do the unusual thing by admitting that The Standard also took a rather skewed view of majimbo by saying:

"While political leaders equate Majimbo to federalism and/or devolution, the word Majimbo is a uniquely Kenyan term that was coined by European settlers just before independence to mean ethnic regionalism.
Threatened with the loss of Kenya, the settlers wanted to create for themselves a homeland or jimbo in the White Highlands and scatter the Kenyan dream of independence.
The Bomas draft of the new constitution, however, does not talk about Majimbo, but rather outlines the objectives of devolution in Chapter 14."

That sounds like a cut-and-paste from an article penned by Koigi wa Wamwere about a week ago. How could European settlers coin a Kiswahili word so perfectly? Wo instructed them? I'm glad though that the hard copy of the Standard has a more realistic version, simply saying that 'majimbo' is from a Kiswahili word 'jimbo' for region.

I would be glad to hear more about the moral aspects of supporting majimbo. I would also be glad to learn the moral aspects of opposing it. From where I stand, I can't see any, not even in the horizon when I squint.

I'm not sure if he committed a cardinal sin, but it looks like Archbishop (cardinal-elect) Njue misled the flock.


Culturekenya said...

Oh yes, you are right. It reminds me when Bishop Sulumeti supported the banana team during the referendum campaigns. He came to church in Mumias, and after the mass, guys left him in the church, for they just hated to find politics in church.
Honestly, why now? And why say it is a bad thing? And the Cardinal designate being from Mt Kenya, KIbaki being a catholic, and PNU saying that Majimbo is they think we cannot connect the dots?
I liked the way Mr Mutakha Kangu dismissed them, as telling "a young boy not to eat until he grows up."
Surely, almost celebrating our golden jubilee and they are telling us majimbo is "disastrous."
This makes it a bit hard for president Kibaki. He's going to lose humongously.
Standard did not play up the story as Nation and that is encouraging, because what value does it add to the reader, when 'Majimbo' itself is somewhat ambiguous to the readers.
Can we get what Majimbo is really. Up to you at The Standard.

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Jadhoot said...

Thanks Culture. I wonder where Mutakha Kangu went. The guy was so eloquent.

CresceNet, I do not understand the language you've written in. Please translate to English.

Ahsante sana.