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An Open Letter to H.E. the President Daniel Arap Moi and to All the People of Goodwill in Kenya

An Open Letter to H.E. the President Daniel Arap Moi and to All the People of Goodwill in Kenya
Message of the Kenya Catholic Bishops
30 October 1993

This letter written by the Kenyan-Born Bishops to President Moi was published in the Daily Nation on 30 October 1993. The Bishops reiterate words published in previous statements of the past year.

The Bishops make specific reference to their writing of the Open Letter as Kenyan-born Bishops "quite capable of defending the rights of our brothers and sisters in this land, without other help." In addition to their Open Letter, other statement were issued at the same time by Kenya National Diocesan Priest Association (KNDPA), The Catholic Sisters of Kenya (AOSK)(Daily Nation, November 4, 1993) and Church Province of Kenya Clerics (Daily Nation, November 6, 1993) in a united effort to express their concern on the violence and injustice in Kenya as well as to support this Open Letter written by the Bishops.

  1. Your Excellency, although our pleas, requests, advice, coming from us, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, having prayed and held serious consultations, seem to have been ignored by you, we, on our side will not abandon our responsibility. We have a mandate from God Himself and we know that through us, God cares for His people. He is also a God who threatens those who harm His people. The cries of the poor, who are homeless, the hungry, the widows, reach His ears.

  2. The words of the Lord to Moses were: "You must not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry and my wrath will burn and I will kill you with the sword and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless. (Ex. 22: 2-24)

  3. Ezekiel was appointed by the Lord as a sentry to the House of Israel and ordered to warn wrong-doers in His Name. God still appoints sentries to guide and help His people and we, the Catholic Bishops are conscious of that role and even the warning to us from the Lord. "If I say to the wicked: 'You shall surely die' and you give him no warning nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked ways in order to save his life, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity but his blood I shall require at your hand" (Ezek. 3:18).

  4. We have seen and heard of so much wickedness perpetrated in Kenya since the clashes began, but especially in the last few weeks, that we are compelled to speak out in the Name of God Himself, and with His Words and warnings. It is God who will judge in Truth and Justice. Innocent people, peaceful and humble homes, productive fields and gardens, precious cattle, shops, even churches and mosques have been attacked and destroyed. Is not that very wicked? and who is responsible? St. Matthew in Chapter 25 reminds us that every individual will be judged not on our position, riches, education but on the way we treated others particularly the weak, the underprivileged, of this life. To some Christ will say "Come" to others "Depart from me." There is no middle position.

  5. These latter severe words are spoken still, with the purpose of drawing us back to love our neighbours, all those who need our help, as the Good Samaritan taught us. May Christ not have to say to anyone, "I was hungry in Enoosupukia and you did not give me food to eat," "I was thirsty in Molo but you waited till it was too late and then you sent in the GSU," "I was naked in Saboti and you did nothing but talk," "I was sick in Burnt Forest and you told me that it was all the work of the Opposition," "I was a stranger in Londian and you told me to get out, in fact you burnt my house." "Lord, when did we do these things?" Christ will answer, "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me." Christ's words were all spoken with a desire to help us and save us. No other reason.

  6. Your Excellency, such is the gravity of the present situation in Kenya, that these words, which are for all of us, are addressed to you. You have accepted your presidential responsibility publicly and by oath. All these abominations are done in your name, by some of your Cabinet Ministers, by your D.C.'s, your Civil Servants, your GSU and Police. It is perhaps because you have never visited the attacked and injured victims of clashes and listened to what they had to say that you have done nothing practical for them. Most of us and so many of our countrymen and women have seen the long trails of mothers with weeping children, old people escaping the destruction and the terror of someone's well-organised and well-armed gangs of "warriors." It escapes the intelligence of the average citizen why you always send security personnel after and not before the destruction. No one can quite understand why the Opposition have not been brought to court if they are behind the clashes. Since an Hon. Minister has accepted with pleasure the responsibility for organising the war to defend Maasai rights, it must be wrong to discredit the Opposition.

  7. There is no need to go into details. The daily papers are full of reports which demonstrate clearly that there is lack of political will in the case of the clashes to fulfill your assurances spoken as recently as Kenyatta Day 1993: "It is my duty as your President to protect lives and property of all Kenyans so that they can reap the fruits of independence." With due respect to your high position, it is extremely difficult to understand how you can claim to be governing the country, if you are not able to "restrain others." These words spoken with great emotion are not consistent with your powers or your promises. The greatest threat to security are the well-armed organised gangs of "warriors" who are transported to wreak destruction and cause mass exodus of defenceless citizens. It must be difficult to deny their existence when the Hon. MP for Narok, claims to be leading them in the defence of Maasai rights and when one of our Bishops has met and spoken to them in Turbo. This issue should have been followed up a long time ago if the Government was to clear off itself of the firmly held belief that it is behind all the clashes. It would seem that you do not see anything wrong as President to threaten voters with having to suffer "being left in the cold for the next five years" i.e. deprived of Government aid and services" if they did not vote KANU.

  8. It has to be said that there is fear everywhere and the morale in the Civil Service is one of fear, insecurity and abandonment... politicians and political considerations are paramount in every decision and situation. Integrity and hard work mean nothing.

  9. We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya have met to plan how we can help the suffering, the poor, the victims of injustice. Our official statements have not been enough. We are called to use all peaceful means; all the goodwill that exists in the majority of people in order to help you in your responsibility to make your words on Kenyatta Day 1993 come true. " Freedom is a God-given right and no person or political party has the right to deny anybody the opportunity to enjoy it." We are intending to enlist the co-operation of all like-minded religious and professional bodies to support all efforts to bring about security for all, justice for all and peace.

  10. There are so many cases of injustice, of police harassment, of administrative totalitarianism, of inflammatory and inciting statements which go uncondemned (unless coming from political opponents), that most people do not believe there is any law or order left in Kenya. For instance it must be hard for anyone to believe in your effective leadership if you do not dissociate yourself from the bellicose remarks made in Parliament by a Minister Hon. Ole Ntimama.

  11. The common man can sense the danger if one section unilaterally determines its rights for itself and resorts to violence on a massive scale. There is grave danger of other sections following the same procedure and then we have civil war. This must be avoided at all costs and we repeat our call made in our letter of April 1993. "We beg our people not to allow anyone to incite them to violence. Self-defence is legitimate within reasonable limits but never attack no matter how much provoked. Once two parties use violence, we shall have a "Somalia" situation. We ask the Government to recognise how desperate the situation is for our unarmed citizens seeing no help coming from them."

  12. In all we are endeavouring to do, we have the good of the country at heart and our strength and our shield is God, who is Father of all and who has blessed Kenya throughout its history. Freedom demands on-going courage to defend it at any costs, as the Founding Father of our Nation showed us. Once more, Kenyans must be prepared to suffer for their rights if they are to be worthy of the fruits of Freedom.

  13. We Bishops, sons of this soil, free our expatriate Bishops from supporting us in writing this letter. We are quite capable of defending the rights of our brothers and sisters in this land, without other help. Our sole aim is not to enter into politics but to identify ourselves with the joys and sorrows, the grief and the anguish of our own kindred. We are not content just to help the hungry and the sick, we want to help in preventing all spiritual and material evils which limit the freedom of the human being even in this present life. As we have said before, our united efforts must be to bring freedom from hunger, ignorance and disease, both spiritual and material to those multitudes at present homeless and hopeless.

  14. Yours Respectfully,

    Your Kenyan Bishops of the Catholic Church