Once again, it is a great honor for me to speak to my fathers and brothers about this journey called manhood. By inviting a woman to speak, you are proving the African proverb says “if you want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk with others.” Great manhood is the one walked with others – with God, with our wives and families, and with society.
But we all know that since we were last together, we Kenyans have voted to walk alone as tribes. We decided that what mattered are our personal interests, or the interests of our ethnic group; not the interests of our children, our neighbors, our workmates, or of future generations. We did not vote for the dream that Muoki Mbunga so beautifully expressed not only for his children, but also for his neighbor's children. We did not vote as fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers of everyone - as our African culture tells us to - we voted as family of a few.
But I would like to believe that Kenyans did not vote out of malice. We voted with great love for our country. We queued in the hot sun for hours, and we have all decided that peace in Kenya is more important than anything else. So how can there be such a contradiction? How come that love did not translate into our choice of leaders?
I think the problem is that we have not understood the connection between love and power, or love and leadership – which is what you invited me to talk about. We have divorced how we feel for others from what we do for them. Remember what we said last month: Paul explained to the Corinthians that how love is expressed is as important as how we feel. If we love, we count material things as unimportant; love makes us mature and increases our understanding, love makes us strive for perfection as we look forward to the day when we meet Christ and our perfection is complete. Love is part and parcel of what we do.
However, sin and oppression separate the love we feel from what we do for those we love. Again, remember what we said last time about Genesis – that Adam and Eve were one; Adam described Eve as the “flesh of my flesh.” But after the temptation, Adam disowned Eve and told God that Eve was God’s woman, not Adam’s. And didn’t Eve love Adam when she gave him the fruit? I think she did, but she believed the enemy who separated her love for God from her love for Adam.
The poem by Senegalese David Diop is talking about the damage that oppression does. Oppression works by destroying how we express love. It cheats us that love is irresponsible sex and materialism. Our adverts have reduced love to chocolates and condoms. Instead of love being about helping our women flourish, raising our children and building society, the world tells us that we can do what we want, as long as we don’t get AIDS. The world has separated how we feel for others from what we do for others, yet as we said last time, integrity means being whole. Loves means that we do not feel one thing and act the opposite.
But let’s not even talk about the world in general. Let’s be specific. Who is behind the mpango wa kando ad? It is our government, but also the UK and the US governments, through PSI – a mainly US sponsored NGO called Population Services International. Listen to PSI’s Mission Statement:
"The mission of PSI is to measurably improve the health of poor and vulnerable people in the developing world, principally through social marketing of family planning and health products and services, and health communications. Social marketing engages private sector resources and uses private sector techniques to encourage healthy behavior and make markets work for the poor."
So behind the mpango wa kando campaign, are capitalist interests which don’t really care about whether our relationships are what they should be. Instead, they tell us that we Kenyans should accept that we are promiscuous and do the best we can with that reality. In the United States, they do the opposite. Even though divorce rates are high and promiscuity is everywhere, Americans are never told by their governments that they should just accept who they are. Every four years, their politicians remind them the best values of America, and for the last few years the Obamas have reminded us what a woman and man loving each other should mean.
How do sin and oppression work? They tell us only one part of the story, rather than the whole story. For example, the “mpango wa kando” adverts promise us that if we wear condoms in our affairs, we are protecting the people we love. But we have seen from the news, and even from the Bible, that that is not true. Families are torn apart, people lose their lives and property and nations have been divided by mipango ya kando. Remember, Sarah promised Abraham that it would be okay to sleep with Hagar, but when she got her own baby, an enmity was created that lasts to this day. But of course such division in Kenya works to the interests of the West. It is the typical divide and rule.
We Kenyans have also been victims of political mipango ya kando. And like the adverts, politicians have lied to us that their affairs and coalitions are for protecting us whom they love. But we know that is not true. The Jubilee mpango wa kando is built of the blood of the innocent in 2007. The people who voted for Jubilee essentially said that the only blood that counts is that of those elsewhere in Rift Valley but not in Naivasha. But the promise of CORD mpango wa kando is no better, because it is not promising us change of society but change of the personalities. And so we Kenyans have become like the black Americans to whom Malcolm X was saying: " You’ve been had. You've been hoodwinked. Bamboozled”
But God is gracious. God makes us whole. God heals the divisions made in our lives by reminding us of the bigger picture, so that we can make good decisions about the people we love. That is the story of Matthew chapters 1 & 2. If Joseph’s eyes were fixed on the smaller picture of his own pride, he would have dumped Mary. But God reminded him that Mary and the child she was carrying were part of a bigger picture of his redemption plan.
And that is also what the poem by David Diop, and the Maasai story of the girl and the warrior are telling us. The Maasai story is beautiful: here was a man who trusted a woman enough to find her way to meet him. And isn’t it amazing how much the woman trusted him, so that even when danger came, she just sang? Instead of panicking and blaming the man for failure, she knew that the warrior would come to her rescue, and used her voice to sing, and her intelligence to delay the ogre until the warrior came. Do men give their wives that kind of confidence, that no matter what the wives face, they can sing in confidence that the men will help them? Do men have enough confidence in their wives to let the wives become great leaders, and use their own intelligence and creativity? Unfortunately, most of our stories are men afraid of women being educated and being successful. Instead of letting the woman flourish and sing, they fight the woman. And remember that were it not for the girl’s song and her use of the sweet-smelling matasia plant, the warrior would not have been able to locate the ogre and the ogre might have killed him after killing the girl. That’s what’s happening in Kenya: men have turned against women, preventing women from developing their talent, and so when the political ogre comes, they are not able to see it.
The lesson here is that the true social change must come from us examining how we express our love for one another. We must use language, experiences, expressions from our environment for our love to be genuine. Our love expressions must come from our best values, and our love for God. We must understand who the ogre is, or as Paul says in 2 Cor 10, we must understand that the weapons against us are arguments, pretensions and disobedience, and that to truly love and to be true leaders, we must bring how we think and how we love to the obedience of Christ. May God help us to become true leaders who, through love, invite others to walk on the true road together. Amen.
REFERENCES & APPENDICES
I've pasted David Diop's poem and the Maasai folk tale below.
The True Road
By David Diop
Brothers, you whose youth they would like to destroy
Do not expect to find the truth in their twisted words
In their demeaning spanks and their bedroom betrayals
Do not expect to find beauty in their masks which twitch
And which soak their ugly wounds in perfume
Or find love in their uncovered thighs
Truth beauty love are
The worker smashing the deadly calm in the bars
The sensuous and serious woman walking by
The kiss that goes beyond the cold manipulation
The flowers of engaged couples and the child in loving arms
This is everything they have lost, brothers
And which we will uncover on the paths of the world
A young woman and an ogre (a story from the Maasai community)
Once upon a time, there lived a young woman who eloped to meet her warrior lover out in the wilderness. The warrior directed the young woman to a place in the forest where he would meet her. He said to her, “If you get to a fork along the path, take the right path.” Then the warrior went ahead to await her arrival in the forest.
As the girl walked on, she came upon an ogre who said to her: “Hey young woman, where are you going; do you have anything to say, now that I’m going to eat you?” The girl answered in song:
Not here my bead
Let us go to the water hole
Where you can eat me
And have a drink
Oh my dear warrior, where was it?
And so it happened that this was very bushy country. The ogre led the young woman on, and when they got to another spot, he said to her: “I am going to eat you here.” The lady broke again into song, urging him not to eat her yet.
They went farther on, and the young woman kept hoping that the warrior would hear her voice. As they walked on, the ogre asked the young lady: “Shall I eat you here?” The girl sang again:
Not here my bead
Let us go to the water hole
Where you can eat me
And have a drink
Oh my dear warrior, where was it?
But the warrior had still not heard her.
When they got to a cave by a river, the ogre collected branches and leaves on which to place the young woman’s flesh after he had slaughtered her. When he brought one type of leaf, the girl objected to having her flesh laid on ordinary leaves, preferring the sweet-scented leaves of the matasia plant. The ogre brought another kind of leaf, but the girl rejected them, until eventually the sweet-smelling leaves of the matasia plant were brought. When the ogre asked the girl whether those were the right type of leaves she said, “Yes, these are the ones.” The ogre then laid the leaves down on the ground and lit a big fire. All the while, the girl continuously sang the same song.
Just when the ogre was about to jump on the woman, the warrior suddenly emerged from the bush. The young woman said to the ogre: “It is now your skinny flesh that will be laid on those leaves.” The warrior killed the ogre and placed him on the bed of leaves and took the lady away. And that is the end.
Kipury, N. (1983). Oral literature of the Maasai. Nairobi: Heinemann.
 An oval shaped type of bead. Often people exchange these and name each other by them. The girl, by using the term was flattering the ogre.