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Joint Message to His Excellency the President of Kenya

Joint Message to His Excellency the President of Kenya
A Message from the Kenya Catholic Bishops and six top officials of the National Council of Churches of Kenya
30 April 1992

This short but direct message was brought personally by all the Bishops of Kenya and six officials of the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK) to the President at his State House. As a matter of fact the message was meant to be a personal one to the President and not to be communicated to the Press. Due to some leakage the message was published on the following day in the newspapers and the President was disappointed by this breach of protocol. The Catholic Bishops regretted this incident but they wanted to stand for all that had been written. The tone of the message shows that the Bishops had personal and direct contact with the victims and that they were well informed about the reality and causes of the so-called "tribal clashes." They decided to address the President personally, because there were grounds to think that the members of his entourage were misinforming him and also because he was the only one who could change that sad situation.

Although this is not a Pastoral Letter nor an open Message to all, it was worthy of being included here because it helps to better understand all the other documents written during this year. Also, it has the value of showing the ecumenical collaboration between Christian Churches in Kenya in matters of social justice and peace.

  1. Your Excellency, the very short notice in requesting to see you, by this joint delegation of Church Leaders of the NCCK and the Kenya Episcopal Conference, must mean that there is a very important matter to bring to your notice.

  2. What brings us here is nothing less than the life or death of Kenya, the question of the lives and future of hundreds of families who have been treated inhumanely, butchered, slaughtered. The scenes are truly heartbreaking. No human being can be left unmoved. Anyone who carries responsibility before the nation, even more before our God and Father, must be forced to stop this bloodshed and human misery at once.

  3. As religious leaders who have walked among hungry and crying women and children, who have seen corpses, wounds, blood, homes burnt to the ground, empty food stores, thousands of people trekking for safety to our church compounds, who have buried hundreds.... we have to tell you plainly that you are wrong in your assessment of the situation. Unless you change the present policies, Kenya will not be KANU but a cemetery for thousands of sons and daughters.

  4. We have seen with our own eyes warriors in their hundred, well organised and trained. How can anyone deny that they exist? Why do you not commit your administration officers, your police and army to capture these young men? It is irrelevant whether they were trained in Libya or by any group or party. There is only one thing necessary as an immediate step: to apprehend and disarm these warriors at once and to bring them to justice. After this other questions remain.

  5. Who are behind the clashes? They require arms, arrows, transport and food. They are well organised and trained in demoralising people. The Government must eradicate and punish those responsible. Another question is why have leading Government Ministers who made provocative statements and ordered non-Kalenjins out of Rift Valley Province at public meetings in Kapsabet, Kaptagat and Narok in September 1992 not been prosecuted or censured in any way?

  6. Your Excellency, you cannot deny what we have seen. Your recent tours have not changed the security situation. Surely, you see a complete change in the mood of the people. When have people walked away from your meeting, shouting insults and throwing stones, e.g., at Chemalel, Turbo, Molo? Whether you like it or not, the truth is that the people have lost confidence in you and the people close to you.

  7. At this last hour, we ask you IN GOD'S NAME to change your heart, to change your policy. Even Parliament has shown that they cannot stand the present situation. Your officers are assuring everyone that there is peace and security, but burning, looting, fear and hopelessness continue.

  8. How can we continue to ask innocent people to be patient and non-violent when they are being disarmed by the police and later attacked by the warriors? These warriors are suspected of being led by highly-trained personnel. Your Excellency, your people are hopeless, demoralised. This situation could never be believed to be possible. Your duty is not to any party; it is to all the people ALL; every citizen has a right to live in any part of Kenya and dwell in peace and security. At present you seem to be securing the interest of a small clique of rich and powerful men who are surviving at the cost of the life-blood and misery of thousands of small people.

  9. Your Excellency, we, as Church Leaders, know we must speak out. God wants a Kenya which is a good country to live in for all. We believe God wants you to forget yourself, your party and your personal interests. You have to think of Kenya and its people.

    We believe that there is still time to save the situation if you take the appropriate steps NOW WITHOUT DELAY. We assure you of our prayers and full support in stopping this bloodshed.

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. The Bishops gave to the President their own interpretation about the origin of the "tribal clashes" in Kenya. Do you agree with them or have you another interpretation?

  2. Catholic Bishops joined the religious leaders of other Christian denominations. Was that just a political strategy on their part in order to be strong or was there any other purpose and intention?

  3. Is it recommended that the President of the country should be at the same time the leader of his own party? Give you own point of view.