Prayer is fine, but government must back it up with action


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Today, Kenyans from all walks of life will gather to ask God for protection from coronavirus.

While announcing the national day of prayer this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta recognised the powerful role spirituality plays in calming down a panicking nation and urging hoarders of hand sanitisers to share with their neighbours as God commanded us to.

It takes immense courage for a national leader to admit he needs supernatural help containing a global pandemic that is threatening to shut down our economy and ensure we only see our loved ones on computer screens.

We gather Saturday to tell coronavirus that if the government hasn’t succeeded in killing us with corruption, there is no chance a foreign pathogen will come close to scaring us with death.

Kenyans might not be a righteous people, and we may not practise our religion as strictly as the Holy Books dictate, but a majority of us ascribe to a higher spiritual power even though we will only see heaven in Bible photos.


Spirituality plays an important part in the everyday life of the average Kenyan. On several occasions, we have been twisted and turned like barbecue rolls by the government.

Our pockets have been emptied, jobs taken away from us, loved ones lost through preventable deaths, and there are convincing indications the misery isn’t about to end.
That we have survived all this and still have the resilience to pick up the pieces and move on points to the belief Kenyans have in a supernatural power who watches over us when the government is asleep.

A lot of things that happen in this country can only be explained as the works of an invisible hand.

For example, this is a country where poor people drink dirty water from shallow wells and generally don’t catch cholera, while rich people jog on pedestrian walkways and without getting knocked down by boda-boda riders.

If prayer is the answer to the dilemmas of our time, then we expect the national prayers programme to include a wish-list of unresolved mysteries that have stalled our national progress and put us in a permanent state of political bickering.

Today, as we pray for Covid-19 to leave us alone, let us also pray for God to reveal to us who has been eating public money meant for suffering Kenyans.

If we are going to rely on prayers to help us solve every problem we face in this country, then we should also ask God to implement the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report; reform the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and chair the national taskforce on the coronavirus pandemic.

While we acknowledge that we did not elect a saint as Head of State, Kenyans expect that at the very least, the government would be at the forefront offering leadership, and that we would only turn to prayer if all else fails.

As we speak, there has been a worrying disquiet about a raft of promises made when the Jubilee government asked for our votes. The five ultramodern stadiums are still only in the Jubilee portal. Free secondary school is being implemented in dosages like drug pellets.

Had we elected God as our President, we wouldn’t have been bothering State House each time an election promise is broken. But we know we have a human being prone to mistakes at the helm, and that’s why Kenyans haven’t been asking for the moon but the bare necessities of life to be made available to them.
Prayers mean nothing if those convening them only do it for show. I suspect God would be happier being associated with leaders who genuinely love their people, meet them at their various points of need, and humble themselves at the opportunity to serve.
It doesn’t please God when our leaders insult each other in public rallies, use public money for private gain, and helplessly watch as Kenyans are retrenched back to misery and depression.
Prayers might be reassuring, but it would be more meaningful if we had a government working hard to back them up.
A government that works would have picked the Covid-19 warning signs much earlier and put in place mitigation measures to stop the spread. A government that works does not shuffle incompetent ministers from one portfolio to another. It fires them altogether to pave the way for more competent citizens who are ready to serve their country.
A government that works cannot sleep on the job and then pray for God to send his angels to catch it when things go south. Kenyans need a government that works, not a God that is burdened.

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