This is (Not) A Short Defence of Religion

When I was about 15 years old, when herding cows in the village, I used to walk around with an old book titled “A Short Defence of Religion: Chiefly for Young People Against the Unbelievers of Our Days” by Prof. Rev. Joseph Ballerini from the Seminary of Pavia.


Got it from one of the Catholic books Dad had. It’s a very good book, but not short as the title implies, and I think the best defence of the Christian doctrine that I have ever read. Even today I still have the book. It’s a very old book, was first published in 1908.

The preface of the book begins this way:

“It is proper that Catholics should not only have a good knowledge of their religion, but also to give a correct and satisfactory answer to honest inquiries of non-Catholics. At the present day there are great discussions everywhere on matters connected with religion, and immense multitudes of people take erroneous views. Unfortunately, it often happens that Catholics are not in a position to remove their difficulties.”

The book intended to weigh the arguments of guys like Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, Spencer, Harnack, Loisy etc to show how they are totally unworthy. So at 15 I was already reading arguments and counter-arguments on existence of God, origin of man, origin and nature of human soul, which is the true religion bla bla. Some arguments are logically sound, especially in those cases where he tries to prove that there is no conflict between Catholic dogma and scientific evidence, such as in the evolutionary origins of man. Back then I could see many of the weaknesses in the Professor’s arguments, it was not until I did Biomedical Science and Technology for my Undergraduate and this made it easier for me to access and understand scientific data and findings, and also see the deliberate misinterpretations that the good theologian had engaged in. But the book is way above, in terms of quality of reason and logic, when compared to most of the books defending Christianity that you’ll find on the bookshop shelves today. It is rigorous. It has citations, and very detailed footnotes on direct quotations from books you can hardly find anywhere.


The infallibility of the Catholic Church and its dogma (or as the book says “Every dogma of the Catholic Church is infallibly true”) was also an interesting one to note. Not sure whether it holds any water today. Not with the many scandals rocking the church.

I tried to think about why an organized religious system, like the Catholic Church, would write a book to shield ‘young people against the unbelievers of our days’. Later on I got English translations for Quran and Bhagavad Gita, and downloaded Buddhist texts and books on ancient history, ancient religions and cults and so many many other things. I think nothing exposes the fact that religion is a sociocultural human construct like studying many religions and cultures.


Since 1950s science has produced so much knowledge about the nature of the physical universe that most of the arguments in this 1908 book have been rebutted in millions of discussions in blogs. The Table of Contents of the book is like a summary of the religion-science debates even today, the only difference is that science has shed off most, if not all, its philosophic abstractions and has become more empiricist, more mathematical, more observed data. The usefulness of scientific arguments, tools, and technology can be seen in every sphere of our lives. Sadly, arguments for many religious doctrines still gamble with belief and piggyback on base human instincts such as fear of death.


Like the Prof at the beginning of the 20th century, believers still talk about “supernatural facts” in the 21st century.

How times change. How times remain the same.

To paraphrase the theology Prof: “At the present day there are great discussions everywhere on matters connected with religion. Unfortunately, it often happens believers are not in a position to remove their difficulties.”

Understanding Religion, Fundamentalists/Extremists, and Violence/Terrorism

Ukranian soldier near Pervomaysk - Reuters

If your religion is a religion of peace, if your religion is a religion of love, tolerance, and understanding; then the fundamentalists in your religion should be the most peaceful, most loving, most tolerant and most understanding. Fundamentalists and extremists are people who interpret every word in their Bible, Quran, Bhavad Gita or any other sacred/holy text as literal truth and genuinely live by these dictums. A Muslim fundamentalist/extremist is an extremist in his/her devotion to the literal word of the Quran. A Christian fundamentalist/extremist is an extremist in his/her devotion to the literal word of the Bible. This goes for all the sacred texts. All these peoples are extremes in their faith, and contestations arise when these extremists (rightly) perceive that the literal understanding of these texts to be incompatible with the values, norms, and traditions of modernity in a secular world, and therefore a threat to their living according to the sacred literal truth. It is on this same plane that unbelief is not viewed as that specific person’s individual choice, but a sin. Note that ‘sin’ is a religious language and only has meanings in religious texts, proclamations, and analyses. ‘Sin’ falls in the same pile with words such as ‘salvation’, ‘redemption’  – as in, they only make theological sense. Yet a believer will be quick to judge unbelief as sin and so deserved of the various punishments that are okayed in their sacred texts, irrespective of the fact that this person does not believe in the textual validity, cultural representativeness, moral authority, or historical validity of such texts. Their faith therefore becomes their source of hatred and division, rather than their source of love and communion. It is for this reason that religious inspired hatred and violence is more pronounced in places where that religion is more concentrated. To a large extent, more Muslims will be killed by Muslim extremists/fundamentalists. More Christians will be killed by Christian extremists/fundamentalists, because it is easy to find the sinful (those who do not live by the literal teachings of sacred texts) within one’s own community. The argument that fundamentalists/extremists misinterpret the sacred texts is in most cases dishonest. One only needs to go back to the sacred texts and read. Religions have always inspired violence.

If the fundamentalists in your religion are the most hateful, violent, intolerant, ignorant, inhumane, and all sort of negative attributes, then there is a fundamental problem not only in the motive of the sacred texts but also in its inactivity to school and rein in the most honest of its adherents. In the wild, we can only differentiate soulful, tongue-imprisoning, health-boosting trees from the taste, savour, and nutrients of their fruits. The fruits of any religion are best examined by looking at the most fundamentalist of its adherents.

The problem of religion and violence is more pronounced if the religion is a way of life, if religion is culture and not just a constituent of culture but culture itself, in that it has internal dictates not only on piety, but also personal relationships, family/clan relationships, politics, law, social institutions. Terrorism, then, becomes religiously inspired political violence. All terrorist activities have a political objective. In the broadest sense, terrorism is political activity; it is a religiously inspired violence as a solution to political grievances. It is only in the modern world that religion is seen as a private activity, in the pre-modern world, religion dictated all human activities, from politics to law, from economics to state-building to warfare. Religious crusades did not advance spiritual adventures. They advanced political objectives. Sunni and Shia Muslims do not fight purely to achieve a certain level of holiness. The Catholics and Protestants did not fight to expand the highways to heaven. Catholics in France did not fight Catholics in Habsburgs to earn a sit on Jesus side on the day of judgement. Christian missionaries did not come to Africa simply to make Africans holy. They came to lay the foundation for the colonization and exploitation of Africa. Even today religion and politics remain intertwined and the goal of the complete separation of religion from the economic, political, and cultural structures must continue. Unless this happens, the tendency to fall back to religious inspired violence to solve political, economic, and social grievances – especially by people in regions where religion remains an all-encompassing way of life – will continue.

The new religious undertones and violence beneath the broad sweeps of ‘democracy’, ‘liberty’, and ‘human rights’ also need our attention. Just as it was admirable to die for God, for religion, the new God is the state/nation and it has become admirable for man to die for the state/nation – an imagined community – for which soldiers are sacredly prepared to die. Until man ceases to create gods, god-inspired violence will live with us. I’m thinking about the Global War on Terror and ‘Axis of Evil’ justifications. In the modern world, the words of British Historian Lord Anton that the emphasis on ethnicity, culture and language in the adulation of the national spirit would penalise those who did not fit the national norm. Thus, he said “according, therefore, to the degree of humanity and civilisation in that dominant body which claims all the rights of the community, the inferior races are exterminated or reduced to servitude, or put in dependence.”

We should therefore be wary when the intolerance and bigotry we used to associate with religion, remain the same foundational blocks by which we are promoting equality, democracy, human rights, and political and intellectual liberty. To promote these noble pursuits, we are becoming too comfortable with using violence as a tool. As long as United States and Europe use violence to promote these enlightenment ideals, violence will be used to oppose them. Within countries, as long as the ruling class remains intolerant, prejudiced, and violent against those perceived as ethnic and cultural minorities, these communities/groups will resort to violence against the nation-state, and fundamentalism will continue to have a cruel, violent, and invasive relationship with aggressive secularism. As long as fundamentalists (in Christian, Islam, Judaist, Hinduist etc) view secularism as an establishment designed to destroy their culture, their way of life, as long as ‘modern’ is presumed to mean ‘European’, religious inspired political violence will remain the riposte – and history shows that these fundamentalist reactions to forceful secularisation are prone to become more and more extreme over time.

How we Sanitize Violence, Al Shabaab, #ManderaBusAttack and Other Things

StopTheViolenceWe live in a world that glorifies war and weaponry. I cannot tell you how much I sometimes read on the details of nuclear arsenals and their delivery systems. I suppose I’m not the only curious person alive. The nature of politics that goes into war-dialogues and war-making, and the amount of coverage given to war situations, easily supersedes any other human activity. We take pleasure in violent sports and marvel at machines that can cause the ultimate destruction. The movies we watch defy our relentless talks on peace, love, and compassion. We have accepted that humans are violent and self-destructing entities.

We are proud consumers of violence, and it can be argued that we have over-consumed violence and become largely desensitized by it. Of course we have sociological and psychological explanations to these aspects, we have political and economic undercurrents, and and have expanded our receptivity to new brands of violence, whether its cops on the streets, rebels and bandits, violent religious fundamentalists, government exterminations, race-inspired violence, domestic violence… you can add more brands to this list. But to be consumed, it has to be sanitized. We model violence into acceptable categories so that we can comfortably live with violence and continue enjoying the benefits of these brands. As a brands, beheadings are grossest and drone attacks are copacetic.

In the aftermath of the Post-Election Violence in 2008, I dutifully studied the photos taken and compiled by Boniface Mwangi to get a real picture of the depravity that we had sunk into. Such photos are important because they de-localize our understandings, sort of nationalize or globalize it and give it a more expanded and arguably objective interpretive lens. Over the past two years, there has been too much violence in public spaces, linked to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism and youth gangs in slums – added to the police brutality and disappearances that have become part of Kenya’s culture. Yet I also know that since I have accessed most of these images through the internet, much of the population are shielded from the psychologically-imbalancing nature of these graphic depictions.   Which brings me to the question, can people take a firm position in fighting for safety, security, and peace in public spaces if they knew what actually happens (what has been happening)? But such a question can also be too simplistic. We know of scenes of mob justice and thief-burning and police gunning down of thugs in Nairobi. Whether such scenes have deterred criminality is contestable.

But I’m more concerned with the kind of violence that pervades the whole society at the same time and the fears it can create, or the courage it can create to make things a little right. I’m concerned with terrorist violence and ethno-political violence such as the 2007/2008 PEV. What do you think if a majority of Kenyans knew the extent of violence some regions of this country has been exposed to? Would there be a change in the divisive nature of our politics if we had a memorial for 2007/2008 PEV victims, something akin to the Rwanda case? Would we learn the cost of political violence of such a memorial was a constant reminder of the risks our nation faces during each election? And on Al Shabaab and Al Shabaab sympathizers, do you think there can be a change in how we perceive them and deal with the security situation if the graphic images of their massacres were accessible to many? So many questions. On a personal level, images and narratives have not won me over to their side, rather it has created the exact opposite, of detest and distaste, and agitation for the government to honestly and firmly deal with the security situation in Kenya. But I’m also worried that such images are becoming too common in our public space and it will not take long before we accept it as the status quo. Al Shabaab violence has become a new brand of violence that we consume from the comforts of our living rooms. We have added it to the list of Kenyan violences.

Unfortunately, what is consumed by a majority of Kenyans is the sanitized version. For example, on the #ManderaBusAttack, what many have consumed is not the expanded, brain-flowing, utterly disgusting version on Reddit. The Geneva Conventions have made wars neat and tidy. There are no desecrated corpses on the screen. These are no gory massacres. The violencing that war is, has been relegated to medieval history books. We have sanitized killing, made it presentable and safe enough to cheer. Statistics have replaced our interpretations of scale. A million people were killed. 20, 000 were massacred. 50. 10. 5. 1. Simple. Numbers help us to make justifications for appropriateness of violence.

So 22 killed in Kapedo. Hundreds in Baragoi. 28 in Mandera. Da. Da. Da. Simple numbers. If there is anger, it is measured. We are careful enough not to soil our political positions. We don’t want talks of incompetence. We don’t want talks of negligence. We don’t want talks of impunity. We are not angry enough because it is not us. Would we rise up against the government and demand accountability if we were angry enough? Would we deny Al Shabaab sympathizers a voice if we were angry enough? Would be flush out Al Shabaab’s within our midst, hiding in our houses, if we were angry enough? Even more important, would we talk against the uses of violence to achieve political objectives if we were angry enough?

We are experts in whitewashing the dark reality of violence. In some cases, religion helps us to justify violence. We sanctify violence when we pray to God to “bless our troops” as they go to war. Other religions such as Islam have edicts justifying war against those perceived as infidels. In these, we become righteous perpetrators and consumers of violence. Sanitization not only desensitizes us, but it also prevents us from acting on violence in our communities. Look at how we are desensitized to act. I have always been a proponent not showing graphic photos, images, etc to the public or sanitizing them. There are very good and humane reasons that support that argument. Lately I have been thinking of exceptions. Rather than the standard sanitizing, we need to find ways of using these images, not to instill and propagate fear, but to inspire the courage to act in Kenya. The history of the modern world is replete with examples of how some images of violence has been used to create a new path of change and understanding. We need to find a new way of using these information-images to induce anger for change, to implant a new way of interpreting images of violence in our public spaces, and strongly act against the perpetrators of such violences.

Lets continue talking. Lets continue acting.


[Today, November 25th, is the International End Violence Against Women Day. From today to the December 10th – the International Human Rights Day, you are called upon to stand up for women and human rights. During these 16 days of activism and conversations, we would like to know your clear stand on gender based violence.]

Why You Need to Aromat Yourself to Benefit from the China-Kenya Billions

FACT: Grants – 18.6 billion. Loans – 146.8 billion. Total 165.4 billion.
ANOTHER INTERESTING FACT: In 2013, Kenya paid an import bill worth 182 billion to China against export receipts of 4.2 billion. This is one of the largest trade imbalances ever reported in Kenya.

China-Africa Trade by sector

China-Africa Trade by sector


Position yourself to gain immensely from the billions that will soon flow from China to our beautiful country. Expect the monthly reports from the Central Bank of Kenya and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics to report massive expansion of the economy. Expect GDP rate to rise due to increased infrastructural development and direct injection of billions into key economic sectors. Imagine the combined effect of billions flowing into infrastructure, agriculture, and lately even sports, culture, heritage, and wildlife conservation. Heaven! Kenya’s dream of being a middle income country (at least on paper) will be achieved. We should all stand along Thika Superhighway and sing the Chinese anthem. Here is a copy.

Chinese anthem

Chinese anthem

Expect most of the projects to fail because of cobbled-up feasibility studies and lack of connection between some projects and their economic viability. Delete these terms from your everyday discussions about the aspirations of Kenya: democracy, equity, transparency, integrity, anti-corruption. Add more words to this list.
Expect an expanded class of corrupt individuals. Soon we’ll stop talking about ‘grand’ corruption and scour the dictionary for a new word that will aptly capture the level of degeneration of our political elites will become. Know that Kenyans will be toothless to help themselves against this new class of mandarins. This should not come as a surprise. It has happened before.

Now don’t forget that these are loans. So naturally expect our public debt to GDP ratio to continue to rise, until the proportion of external debt becomes so huge and unsustainable, so much so that our government officials will be in constant knees begging the Chinese not to crack the whip when we cannot pay our loans on time. Once we have achieved this level of ass-sweating and beggary, expect the Chinese to buy Kenya, buy everything meaningful in Kenya. Expect them to call your President and berate him harshly, then make him appear with the Chinese ambassador smiling on the front yard of Statehouse and announce yet another Chinese deal. And I almost forgot, please forget you discovered oil in Turkana. Erase it from your memory. You will not gain from it. Again do not be surprised. Kenyans are not alone in this. Many African countries have expanded their throat for Chinese loans. They’ll all bloat when indigestion begins. Expect a thunderous continental fart of clueless Presidents.

The growing China-Africa trade

The growing China-Africa trade

Note that the government has been, for lack of a better word, doctoring data to give the impression that we have a limitless ability to absorb and pay debt. Know that this is a lie. The only option that will be available to the government when the external debt crowds out investments from the private sector, increases inflation, and negatively impacts on our debt sustainability – is to increase taxes. If the borrowings increase, expect the prices of basic commodities to shoot to the sun. Imagine buying a 2kg Jogoo Unga maize meal at Shs 1000. Sounds affordable yeah? That is Vision 2030. You will literally rip off and chew metal from the railways and bite off bitumen from super superhighways. All Ugali-loving folks will revert back to the original Ugali, the one that does not pass through the supermarkets shelves and has 100% corn. Don’t talk about bread and sugar. Milk? Cooking fat? Stop kidding me. Most of us will not afford it. And while we are at it, consider having a kitchen garden for fresh produce or a hanging garden of Babylon on your balcony if you’re apartmented.

The positive side to the inflow is that hungry Kenyans will enjoy the sight of modern trains (screaming on the front page of Saturday Nation or Standard) and cleanly paved 20-lane highways (in political speeches in Narok, Kisumu, and Busia in 2017). So what should you do? Aromat yourself. Position yourself to tap the billions when they land here. How should you do it? Begin infiltrating the right money circles. You might consider participating in corrupt politically approved deals once in a while as a way of making your bones in this new economy. Go back to school, learn Chinese. Are you pregnant? Consider naming your child Yao Ming Otieno or Bingbing Muthoni or Li Keqiang Kiprotich.

Align your business to these new developments. Register a company. When the deal is too good, grab it before the next competitor does. The new Kenya will force you to be rich to be happy. Only the rich will enjoy the re-colonization of Kenya. Same script, different cast. Enjoy the show.

But don’t forget to reformat your dreams today. Let’s learn how we can position ourselves to eat. At least we can try.

NB: This message may apply to all Africans.
*Aromat – A spice which makes food sing on the plate.

The Clash between Darwinism and Creationism: 1859 to present

In this posting, I’ll talk about the American response to Darwinism and the continuing clash between Darwinism and Creationism in North American schools; 1859-1900 and later developments. Such an examination will show how the same arguments have been adopted by scholars, theologians, and churches the world over.

Fundamentalist religious groups have never accepted the uneasy relationship that exists between religious institutions and the theories of evolution and natural selection in the Western world. In America, those who believe in the Judeo-Christian accounts of the creation of the world as outlined in the book of Genesis have for centuries acted as political pressure groups to eliminate the teaching of Darwinism in schools by imposing their beliefs on public education (Strickberger 2005).

Origin of Species.Because Charles Darwin published “The Origin of the Species” in 1859 when America was on the eve of the civil war, serious opposition to the work began in the 1870s in the post war period. Initial rumblings began to emanate that science was becoming a threat to religion. However, due to the presence of an imminent threat of biblical criticism, the Protestants failed to perceive the details of Charles Darwin’s study hence causing delay in their response. In 1873, during the international meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, the question of evolution was finally voiced. Charles Hodge; a Presbyterian theologian from Princeton took the challenge and allayed fears of the impact of evolution and natural selection by saying that these were not new concepts, the only new concept was Darwin’s own version of the two concepts.

By proposing a design that nature was controlled by chance, he concluded that Darwinism was atheism. After this initial declaration by Hodge, Borden P Browne who was a professor of philosophy in Boston University characteristically interpreted Darwinism as being expressive of; “Life without meaning; death without meaning; and the universe without meaning. A race tortured to no purpose, and no hope but annihilation. The dead only blesses; living standing like beasts at bay, and shrieking half in defiance and half in fright” (Pyne 1996, p.12)

For Americans, the Origin of Species and the Descent of Man only intensified the allegation that science continued to attack faith. By disregarding the underlying belief that humanity was a semi divine creation and that the universe was expressly designed for the benefit of mankind, the evolution theory and the schemes of natural selection posited that just like all the other animals, man too was involved in the struggle of existence. Theologians and religious institutions were expressly against the fact that the natural selection debased man to the level of other animals by denying human beings the unique qualities of the mind, intelligence and the soul.

Darwinism created doubts on three fundamental components that had maintained belief in religion for centuries. It shattered the belief in the presence of any design and purpose, the belief that there existed a Creator or a Designer of the universe, and lastly in the belief on the presence of the human soul. The shaking of the later belief consequently created pertinent questions on the existence of life after death-a belief that had been held belief in religion for centuries.

Not even the educated public could afford to be less attuned to the ramifications of the evolutionary theory and natural selection that had created confusion and controversy among philosophers, theologians and scientists. Some were driven to suicidal thoughts. A case in point is the wife of Historian Henry Adams; Marion Hooper Adams who after the loss of her father was engulfed in depression leading to her committing suicide due to depression and doubts on the existence of immortality after death (Pyne1996. p. 13). Her death was attributed to the controversy of the evolution theory as her husband; Henry Adams had uncannily predicted her religious crisis. Marion could not succeed in reconciling her beliefs in religion and the scientific evidences of natural selection.

The 19th century also saw the rise of American geology but its development was affected by serious controversies that were both theological and scientific. Just towards the end of the 18th century clashes over the origins of the earth had began to be felt in the intellectual circles. Catastrophists perceived Creationism as outlined in the book of Genesis as the only logical explanation to the perfection of nature. The “uniformitarians” were against this explanation as literally presented in the Bible. Instead they postulated that the formation of the earth resulted from uniform and continuous courses working over long periods of time. These debates were transported to the periods after the beginning of Darwinism in the 19th century (Mandelker 1984).

When the ramifications of the Darwinian Theory eventually reached the majority of Americans, their reactions reached dimensions of hysteria. Everybody sensed that with his study, Darwin had deliberately and effectively destroyed the fundamentals of religion. Earlier on through the works of Paley and other historians of his kind, the world had been made to believe that though miraculous and mysterious natural processes, God had directly created new species. From the geological records, these geologists and naturalists had almost completely convinced humanity that the earth as it existed was the product of a grand cosmic design implying that nature was reflective of the Divine Mind and Purpose (Pyne1996).

However, as the years trudged on to the lure of positivist science, new converts were being acquired to be practitioners of this novel empiricism. In essence, a new divide of belief was created. People had to either choose the orthodox view of creationism if it suited their understanding of existence or alternatively chose the novel scientific positivism as expressed in Darwinism. The overlap between these two facets characterized the notable hostility of Darwinism in America.

While creationism was held foundationally on the presence of a purpose of nature that satisfied the belief that the world and humanity moved towards a predetermined end, the theories of evolution and natural selection described the movement of nature to be marked with random and purposeless variations. Even though Darwin himself was persuaded that nature was governed by natural law as opposed to miracle, catastrophe, or the caprice of a Creator, he maintained that through these chance variations and adaptations in nature evolution proceeded along a probable evolutionary chain. In his journey to study the species in South America (1831-1836) on the Beagle, he had observed and recorded several mismatches between species and the environments they inhabited. This led to the postulation that as opposed to the creationist theory, to exist in the changing environments organisms had to espouse a wide range of adaptive mechanisms to ensure their survival.

The liberal Protestants in America were especially more loathsome of Darwinism, as Darwin insisted on delineating the evolutionary process which implied that nature and the existence of humanity was laid waste in the brutal struggle for existence. They could not fathom that the postulations of the superfecundity and plenitude of nature, miscegenation, mutation, ugliness and randomness were the basis upon which natural laws operated. The mere fact that natural selection as Darwin had explained led to the extinctions of some species created a religious and philosophical ferment of great magnitude.

Ten years after the publication of the “Origin of Species,” and the rise of the anti-Darwinism movement which is attributed to Protestantism, Herbert Spencer developed a philosophy of science with the intention of allaying the controversies between religion and science that Darwinism had created. In his publication, the “System of Synthetic Philosophy”, Spencer expounded on the theories of evolution which had specifically been limited to biology, linguistics, fossil life, education, political history, architecture, psychological phenomena, child rearing, and rights of women, manners, morals, fine arts and in any other discipline in which the theory of evolution could be applied. Even though Charles Darwin publicly praised Spencer as “the great expounder of the principle of Evolution”, the two works not only differed in methodology but were also derived from different schools of thought (Pyne 1996; Numbers & Stenhouse 2001).

The “System of Synthetic Philosophy” was especially instrumental in accommodating Darwinism in religion because he attempted to explain that religious coherence as it existed in those ages was buttressed by the authority of truth derived from science. His intention can be said to have been the creation of a new form of science that incorporated both the scientific truths and religious beliefs into a form of natural religion that would replace the orthodox Christianity. If such an intention is understood to be one driven by arrogance, then it best describes the evangelical zeal he set in the interpretation of the evolutionary theory and its subsequent incorporation into the perfectibility of human life in his book, the “System of Synthetic Philosophy”. However, even though his work was instrumental it never vanquished the hostilities between science and religion.

As the ramifications of Darwinism continued to create an upheaval in religious circles, the Old Protestantism order which had its basis on the interrelationship of science, faith, the Bible, civilization and morality began to crumble. In 1869, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offered a prediction of the catastrophe that was impending. He predicted that the collapse of the interrelationship would not be dramatic. He also intoned that the many vested interests of churches were rooted in evangelical idolatry and bibliolatry. For these reasons churches could not be expected to accept the implications of the novel views and explanations of the existence of man and the universe as the Bible could not challenge the scientific standards (Marsden 2006). The truth of the matter was that the creation evidence as detailed in the Hebrew books could not just be taken at face value as factual evidence of the creation of the world by a Supernatural deity.

By the 1970s so many evangelicals believed in the seriousness of the threat of Darwinism to religion but they did not share the analytic conclusions that Holmes had so aptly predicted. W.A Stearns attributed the current threats to Christianity as being no more than a continuation of the assaults that Christianity has been enduring (Mardsen 2006, 17). Other leaders reiterated that just as the skepticism, deism and atheism had been defeated in the Enlightenment, Christianity will be victorious again. While positing that never since Christianity has been strong as it was then, Stearns added that they will work together under the Evangelical Alliance to lift all people to achieve victory with the afflictions of modern rationalism, skepticism, the Papacy or any other false system.

These were the opinions that characterized fundamentalism. As an organized movement, it had two major forms. One front operated within the denominations where seminarians and ministers purged modernists and liberals with the sole intention of saving the orthodoxy. This form of fundamentalism cantered mainly in North America. The second form of fundamentalism was more of a popular crusade that was directed not only towards modernist and liberal heresies but also against Darwinism and the deteriorating moral trends in the society. While former mainly involved seminarians and conservative ministers, the latter was advanced by less scholarly or less academic preachers. These two forms of fundamentalism were joined into a form of loose coalition as they were working against a common enemy: Darwinism.

At the end of the 19th century it seemed that religious leaders had started becoming in terms with the evolutionary theories, but still approximately half of the population in the United States still denied the scientific truths postulated by the Darwin theories. This proportion which rejects Darwinism in its entirety believes that human beings are a product of a Supernatural creation that happened at some time in the history of the universe.

With regard to the uniqueness of the political and constitutional history of the United States, and the long history of a religious culture the creationism movement became more popular hence characterizing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It should be understood that the majority of the European settlers who came to North America during the 17th and the 18th centuries were settlers who were fleeing from religious prosecution from their mother countries (Dixon 2009).

Many of these settlers were non conformist Protestants who had adopted the belief in a personal relationship with God and the study of the Bible. They were Puritans, Quakers, Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodists. Since the settlers constituted a majority of the United States population at that time, these distinct religious groupings became the characteristics of the religious culture in the United States of America. Thus, due to the multiplicity of churches, there arose a need to separate the church from the state so as to prevent any favouritism of the any of the church groupings by the state. This spirit was aptly expressed when the First Amendment explicitly prevented the Congress from ever establishing any form of national religion. Despite this constitutional provision, other states still maintained contact with established churches but these were to soon die off leading to the full separation of the church and the state (Dixon 2009).

To exercise the same spirit of the separation of the church and the state, statutes were enacted to prevent other established religions from imposing their own version of Christianity on others. This led to the abolition of religious instruction in public schools. The passing of religious beliefs onto the younger generation was left to be done at home or in the Sunday school. This provision that completely eliminated religion in schools was what ushered in the clash between Creationism and Darwinism as the 20th century drew to a close.

The first instance of the clash with regard to the education occurred in 1925, when Dayton; a small town in Tennessee banned the teaching of Darwin’s evolution theories in public schools within their locality (Dixon 2009). The end of the sensational debates led to the elimination of the evolution theories from the science curriculum of most schools throughout the United States and for the duration between 1925 to the 1960s, the clash between Darwinism and Creationism subsided as they had both been eliminated from instruction curricula of public schools.

The elimination of such important scientific principles in the education curricula did not present any serious threats to the scientific development of the United States until the surprise success of Sputnik mission; a Russian space program which was launched in 1957. For fear that America was lagging behind in scientific development, a national panic arose that the scientific standards in American schools were low. The abolition of Darwinism in schools could no longer be tolerated. Acting against the wishes of many American parents who viewed Darwinism as the causative agent for the social ills in the society, the courts re-introduced the learning of the evolutionary theories in American public schools.

The 1960s to the 1970s led to the rise of the theories of the Intelligent Design. However, the religious fundamentalists especially those in North America were also determined to establish a way by which they could also be enshrined in the curricula. These developments led to the concepts of Intelligent Design and Scientific Creationism. There were those who advocated for the teaching of both evolution science, the creation science in addition to another alternative such as catastrophism so as to create a balance between the violently conflicting theories of Creationism and Darwinism.

Through the idea of an Intelligent Design, postulated by a biochemist Michael Behe and a lawyer Phillip Johnson, a new way through which the concept of God could be taken back to the classrooms. However, the teaching of the Intelligent Design in American classrooms did not see the day as judges ruled that it had been religiously motivated and therefore a breach of the First Amendment in 2005(Dixon 2009; Numbers 2006).

The clash between Darwinism and Creationism in America was watched with amused detachment or in some instances notions of superiority by the British as they could not understand that there still existed some culturally backward communities in America that prevented children from garnering knowledge on the theories of Darwinism. Given that their era of controversy had long ended, they could not understand that unlike in Britain, the United States had far different historical differences among its population. The presence of interdenominational rivalry that existed in the United States did not exist in England during the time of the evolutionary controversy. The supremacy of the Church of England and the existence of a Parliament with a long tradition helped settle down the controversies that raged after the publication of the “Origin of the Species” and the “Descent of Man”. Moreover the Fundamentalist Christian movement that took off in the United States in the World War I period did not take off in Britain (Dixon 2009).

In his analysis of the developments of the clash between Darwinism and Creationism or rather the Intelligent Design, Yeats observes that just like any other American he does not understand why naturalism should exercise monopoly in North American classrooms. He reiterates that individuals who espouse Darwinism are using the courts to sustain the principles of evolution and natural selection in public schools. He could not understand why an issue about the origin of existence could only be explained by Darwinism when there were a multitude of other options that could be taught in the public schools. However, given the motivations behind the intelligent design, a bad case was presented to the judicial system and from that bad case emanated a bad decision. By trying to use scientific data to prove that the theory of Intelligent Design was at par with Darwinism hence losing the case before a court under modern jurisprudence with judges who underwent secular training.

Therefore, while religious fundamentalists may attempt to negotiate for a dualistic approach in the education system, they have to understand that the attorneys as well as the system of training existing in North America is steeped in Naturalistic philosophy. Thus, unless the religious fundamentalists propagate the understanding that Darwinism is a religious tenet as in secular naturalism and that the education system as well as the public school’s science educators is nothing but the missionaries of the religion, any attempt to introduce any other theoretical understanding of the origin of man and the universe will be viewed as being religiously motivated. However, some argue that much as Darwinism can escape the reference of being classified as a religion, what matters is the element of faith. So long as students are taught to have faith in Darwinism as being the conclusive explanation of the origin of man, then it is religion and it should not be taught in public schools in North America.

In North America, the continuing conflicts between supporters of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection on one hand and the supporters of the creationist theories on the other are just the 21st century’s skirmishes that have characterized the struggles between science and religion. Creationism as a theory and its pseudo-scientific offspring; the theory of Intelligent Design are products of the historical, cultural and religious characteristics of the population in North America.

So long as these underlying characteristics of the population persist, there is limited evidence that a time may come in the near future where the supremacy of Darwinism in the public school system will be challenged with creationist theories like the Intelligent design or any other theory, so long as such a theory is deemed to have originated from religious motivation. Currently, with the observable lack of interest in the theories of Creationism by current President of the United States of America; President Barack Obama coupled to the support of Darwinism in schools by the Supreme Court as well as the overriding interpretation of the First Amendment, it is no surprise that religiously motivated anti-Darwinism in North America will continue to be kept out of American classrooms.

There is very little, when one judges the history of these developments, to suggest that Darwinism will not continue to be part of the science syllabus in countries with secular systems of governance. Creationism, held afloat by nothing but belief, will also be taught in many countries but it will never strangle Darwinism as far as understanding natural biological phenomena is concerned. There are mountains of evidence to that end, mountains that cannot simply be washed away.


Richard M. Oduor/Richie Maccs, Nairobi

Mr. Oduor is a writer, poet and critic. He did Biomedical Science and Technology (Bsc. Hons) and in line to pursue a Masters in Strategic Management. He is a founding Partner of a young company; Expert Research & Management Consultants and Founding Member at the Center for Intervention Against Alcohol (CIAADA). His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online journals and anthologies and the first poetry collection is due for publication. He has freelanced and copywrited for various local and international private research entities.




Darwinism, Religion and the Idea of God

The Greatest of all naturalists

Charles Darwin: The Greatest of all naturalists

When the “Origin of Species” appeared on November 24, 1859, a new intellectual impulse was generated and just as a novel generative idea defines a philosophical epoch, an intellectual movement that would define and engulf a whole generation began. While it can be generally posited that Darwinism in itself was but a terminus of the linkages in intellectual development in that century, it is much more preferable if we posit that Darwin inaugurated the reflex of the universal spirit of natural science.

While the “Descent of Man” included the species Homo sapiens as a natural consequence of the evolution theory, thus explaining its existence as nothing but a natural development from lower animal life forms; which was a rather natural progression of Darwin’s doctrines of the origins of species, the turbulence that the sole assertion would create was beyond his comprehension at the release of these works. Far beyond the bounds of natural philosophy, scientific theorism, religious and ethical depths, the reactions ranged from acknowledgement and admiration, from aversion and repugnance while a select minority maintained a sober and unprejudiced judgement.

To some, Darwinism represented the flambeau that would light mankind to perceive and discover new paths of truth and attain moral and spiritual perfection. On the side, Darwinism was also viewed as an unproven hypothesis that threatened to radically transform the noblest and grandest achievements of the past centuries and thrust them into a heap of ashes. Alternatively, Darwinism was also representative of the highest level of scientific, moral and religious height that humanity had ever ascended (Schmid 2008). Thus, under these overriding circumstances it was virtually impossible for guardians of religion and moral interest as well as those respectable individuals with sacred acquisitions that man had ever been endowed with, to assume the roles of idle spectators.

It would have been better if these groups of people delayed their onslaught on Darwinism until they had attained a significant level of evidence to judge or at least waited until the controversies subsided to levels that could warrant an unprejudiced analysis. However since, Darwinism was seen as being hostile to Christianity as well as the theistic view of the universe, these agents voiced their controversy. On the other hand, extreme materialists and the sublime monists, who are nonetheless hostile to Christianity, decided to use Darwinism as a reference point for shattering all belief of the existence of a Creator and Master of the world (Schmid 2008).

Cumulatively, taken as threats to God and religion, individuals with ethical and religious acquisitions could not afford to accept a reserved position on the matter. In essence, silence would have been understood to be an inglorious retreat. Therefore, it is important to understand the position that religion took with regard to the Darwinian theories.

Charles Darwin, Darwinism and Religion: 1859-1900

To pose a highly reliable discourse on the interactions of Darwinism and religion, it is only prudent that we take a look at the scientific problem in itself before digressing to the views of Darwinism as propagated by religion. At basic, this attempt desires that we first and foremost discuss the purely scientific theories that Darwin postulated. Generally, these theories attempt to give an answer to the question: “How did the different species of organic beings on the earth originate”(Schmid 2008).

Living in the midst of an endless variety of plants, animals and human beings, man has continually striven to understand the nature of all these by observation and design of laws that are in congruence to the natural world as it existed in a given century. With the facts of reproduction partially understood and after designing explanations for the existence of the species in immeasurable epochs of the history of the earth, we are finally faced with the task of developing a believable explanation of the origin of the first species, be it a plant, an organic being or an animal.

Since no man ever had the opportunity of witnessing the origination of other species as there are enough evidential proofs asserting that when Homo sapiens finally appeared, all other organisms were in existence. In the natural history of the progression of science, there reached a time when scientists desisted from attempting to solve the question as it was deemed unprofitable and utterly insolvable. Any attempt in solving it would require the use of unjustifiable hypotheses which in themselves could not provide an appropriate answer to the whole phenomena. Having faith in religion simply rendered these investigations useless because the question had aptly and fully resolved in religion.

In religion, all species had their origins from the creative act of God. This solution for the question of the origin in species sufficed for religion because as a believer, all things including the universe itself, was the work of God. Since religion is grounded on belief and as such cannot be taken as being indifferent or antagonistic to the scientific impulse behind investigations into the origin of the species, Darwinian evolution theories had a profound impact on religious belief. Traditionally, religion was grounded on the belief that both social and biological systems were designed by an intelligent supernatural deity.

Evolutionary theories denied that there existed a god who with a supreme purpose designed biological creatures. Since religion lies in human driven attempts to appeal to or control natural forces, which had long been incomprehensible to man but thought to be humanlike but supernatural, the concepts of God and soul arose. Both these concepts are supposedly eternal in nature and immaterial. Owing to the general insecurity of humanity and the instability of nature, religion provided the understanding that there had to be in existence a supernatural being who had the capacity to manage and control these components of the universe. It is such a propitiation that maintained deep beliefs in religions and cults. Through offerings and sacrifices, human beings sought to restore order, ameliorate guilt and provide benefits by appealing to the divine creator (Strickberger 2005).

Before Darwin, Galileo and Copernicus had challenged the notion of a powerful deity as the controlling force behind the whole universe. In their view, the idea of God only served as an explanation of the initial creation but not of the incessant manipulation of the solar system. However, their explanations could not cause such religious turbulence as Darwinism would cause. Darwinism posed that biological relationships; inclusive of the origin of man as well as that of all other species in the universe could only be explained through natural selection in the complete absence of a controlling or managing God.

At the onset of Darwinism a majority felt that the randomness and uncertainty of the evolutionary theories had almost completely replaced the existence of a deity with conscious, purposeful and human like characteristics. The postulation that evolution was a historical process and that species were not created spontaneously but rather formed via a succession of selective events in the past was a direct contradiction to the religious beliefs which maintained the understanding that there could not exist any form of biological design or otherwise without the existence of  Grand Designer.

With regard to evolution, interactions between different species and their environment results in the selection of successful traits that are further enhanced by selective events. Therefore, environmental adaptation has the capacity to continuously modify structures and organs over long periods of time, and complexities that had initially been unlikely singular spontaneous events progress to become evolutionary probable events. Even though the variability on which selection is dependent on may at times be random, adaptations are not because natural selection only chooses and perfects that which is adaptive (Strickberger 2005). With natural selection, the designs and purpose of a supernatural deity are not necessary.

Everybody who is acquainted with the hostility of the reviews, treatises and sermons just after the works, “The Origin of the Species” and the “Descent of Man” were released will understand that at the time Charles Darwin was perceived as a wicked infidel who had completely abandoned God as the Creator of the universe, a man who had completely undermined the authority of the Scriptures, a man who degraded human beings to the same levels as beasts and lastly as a man who had abandoned the universe under the control of chance. For centuries and centuries men had comfortably adopted the belief that God was the creator and that Nature as it existed was but an evidence of God’s purpose and design.

These men could not understand nor even tolerate that things could just grow without being products of the divine craftsman nor that the exquisite adaptations of organs to the environment was not a divine design but due to natural selection of variabilities that simply chanced to be favourable to the organism at a specific time. More serious was the disbelief that man, animals, vegetable or any form of inorganic nature had the same pithecoid ancestry.

Darwin’s Reaction to the Upheaval

These upheavals were strange to Darwin who could not simply understand what the fuss was all about. In fact, he regarded these hostilities with mild irritation and innocent surprise. In response Darwin wrote to Asa Gray in May 22, 1860 that, “With respect to the theological view of the question, this is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically” (Banton 11). To a Dutch correspondent, Darwin wrote in 1873, that since it is the impossibility of conceiving the universe with the help of our conscious selves that drives man to believe in the existence of God, he concludes that it is safe to surmise that the whole subject of the existence is beyond the scope of the intellect of man, but man has to do his duty. All through these attacks Charles Darwin maintained that he had a belief in a God.

While answering an earnest student who sought to know his opinions on religion, Darwin reiterated that he considered the theory of Evolution to be in compatibility with the belief in a God. In the same note to the German student, Darwin added that it should always be understood that different individuals had different opinions on what is generally referred to as God. On the insistence of the student who was like many other not convinced with his answers, he wrote that Science had nothing, absolutely to do with Christ (in reference to attacks from Christianity)(p, 12). In the same year while writing to J. Fordyce, he exhibited the typical Victorian individualism by saying that, “What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to anyone but myself”.

Such was the passion of Darwin for natural history that he could not fully understand that he had shattered the simple faith of belief in a Creator; a belief that had been held by thousands and thousands over the centuries. Having grown old and not the best of health, and at the same time possessed by his own pursuits he could not spare time for irresolvable questions. To shatter accusations that he was an atheist, he said that even in the most extreme circumstances he had never been an atheist as to deny the existence of God. In fact what could appropriately describe his state of mind was being as agnostic.

To get a more in depth understanding on what drove Darwin’s views on religion, lets take a look at Christianity as and its influence on his growth and development an a very tender age. Religion, science and Charles Darwin interacted strongly during the early years of the naturalist’s life. Before, Darwin released his works, science and religion, especially Christianity had maintained a form of a harmonious relationship. During the early 19th century and even before that, many naturalists of repute were clergymen who studied nature as an exposition and appreciation of the designs of the Creator. Students of the day depended on theological works by William Paley (1743-1806) that attributed the natural exquisite designs to the existence of the Grand Designer: God.

These naturalists also explained the perfect adaptation to the environment to the same grand designing. Based on these early exhibitions of intellectual development, it was therefore not a surprise that Dr Robert Waring Darwin(1766-1848) contemplated the clergy as being the most appropriate career for his son even though the young Charles Darwin had found medicine while at the University of Edinburgh to be distinctly uncongenial (Dupree 1986). During Charles years on the Beagle, he shared a cabin with Captain Robert Fitzroy; an intensely Orthodox man. Together they wrote an article defending the British missionaries in New Zealand and Tahiti (Dupree 1986).

Thus, Darwin as a person and Darwinism as a set of scientific theories both originated from the Christian culture. In fact the scientific community of that time profoundly depended on Christianity as a direct economic support and as a rationale for the social usefulness of science. It is also important to remind ourselves that when Charles Darwin went to Cambridge it was for the idea of being ordained as he had deeply studied and admired Paley. On board the Beagle, Darwin quoted the Bible as an authority on morality, a belief that was laughed by many officers on board the Beagle. In fact some German phrenologists once described him as possessing a “bump of reverence developed enough for ten priests” (Banton 13). On the basis of these facts it is impossible to accept the belief that his views expressed in the Origin of the Species had any intention of assaulting religion.

In the next posting I will talk about the American response to Darwinism and 1859-1900, and later developments in the 21st century, especially with regard to the war between Darwinism and Creationism in American Schools because these perspectives define strands of thought the world over.


Richard M. Oduor/Richie Maccs, Nairobi

Mr. Oduor is a writer, poet and critic. He did Biomedical Science and Technology (Bsc. Hons) and in line to pursue a Masters in Strategic Management. He is a founding Partner of a young company; Expert Research & Management Consultants and Founding Member at the Center for Intervention Against Alcohol (CIAADA). His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online journals and anthologies and the first poetry collection is due for publication. He has freelanced and copywrited for various local and international private research entities.


Banton, M. Darwinism and the Study of Society: a centenary symposium. Routledge Press: New York.

Dixon, T. (2009). America’s Difficulty with Darwin. History Today. February 2009. Volume: 59 Issue: 2, p. 22-28.

Dupree, A. H. (1986). Christianity and the Scientific Community in the Age of the Darwin. In, God and nature: historical essays on the encounter between Christianity and science; David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers. University of California Press.

Mandelker, I. L (1984). Religion, Society, and Utopia in Nineteenth-century America.  University of Massachusetts Press, 90

Marsden, G. M. (2002). Fundamentalism and American culture. Oxford University Press US, 10-22

Numbers L. (2006). The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition. Harvard University Press.

Numbers, R. I., & Stenhouse, J. (2001). Disseminating Darwinism: The Role of Place, Race,  Religion, and Gender. Cambridge University Press.

Pyne, K. (2006). “The American Response to Darwinism”. In, Art and the Higher Life: Painting and Evolutionary Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century America. University of Texas Press.

Schmid, R. (2008). The Theories of Darwin and Their Relation to Philosophy Religion and Morality. BiblioBazaar, LLC.

Strickberger, M. W. (2005).  Evolution. 3rd Edition. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, p.  63-71

Yeats, J. L. (Dec 22, 2005). First-Person: Call Darwinism What It Is-A Religion.

Raila Odinga: Speech at the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) National Delegates Conference

This is the speech of the current Prime Minister of Kenya after being endorsed by delegates to be the party’s flag bearer in Marth 4th elections.



ODINGAOnce again, I am both humbled and overjoyed to be here with you today as the leader of our great political party, ODM. Chungwa!


Today,  we  remember  how  buoyed  with  hope  we  were  at  this  time  in  2007,  when  we  as  a party knew we were about to take over the leadership of this country.


All the blessings and good intentions of our ODM manifesto lay, as they do today, brimming over in our basket, ready to be delivered to the people.


But sadly it was not to be. We were denied our victory, and denied our opportunity to make a real difference to this country.

Now, however, we have another chance.


And I want to reassure everyone, here at Kasarani, in Kenya and around the world, that this election will be free, fair and peaceful. In fact, I want to ask that all presidential contenders come  together  in  a  strong  show  of  unity  and  resolve,  to  reassure  Kenyans  that  we  are  all unequivocally committed to a free, fair and peaceful election.

Ladies and gentlemen –

My purpose here today is to tell you a little about my far-reaching plans for the future of this beautiful country of ours.


Today, I want us, as a party, to make a social contract with everyone in this country – that we will deliver democracy, the rule of law, prosperity, unity, inclusiveness and equality.


In conjunction  with  our  coalition  partners,  we  will  fully  implement  the  Constitution  we fought so long and so hard to bring to fruition.

We will make devolution a reality, so that all of our country has the opportunity to develop equally.


Ladies and Gentlemen

In  2007,  I  said  we  must  invest  heavily  in  three  things:  One,  Infrastructure!  Two,

Infrastructure! Three, Infrastructure!


We  have  seen  the  result  in  expanded  road-building,  accelerated  growth  through  ICT,  and successful irrigation projects in arid and semi-arid lands.


While  we  continue  with  this  work,  I  now  pledge  that  we  shall  again  invest  heavily  in  three things: One, Jobs! Two, Jobs! Three, Jobs!

Every one of the ills we suffer has its roots in POVERTY. At the very root of this poverty is the lack of jobs.


Most  of  our  young  people  do  not  have  jobs.  Yet  our  youths  have  been  educated  to  expect something more from life.


They expect to be gainfully employed.

They expect to have the opportunity for personal development, to make a decent living and to contribute something valuable to their communities.

Lack of jobs, as we have seen, leads to only one thing: social insecurity.


Social  insecurity  is  characterised  by  corruption,  poor  policing,  muggings,  extortions, insecurity,  cattle-rustling,  land  clashes,  poor  health  and  education,  strikes,  deficient  local production and lack of food sufficiency.


Ladies and Gentlemen

Don’t get me wrong. I am proud to be a Kenyan. No one could be more proud than I am when I represent our country, as I have been privileged to do on so many occasions.


And  every  time  I  am  out  there  representing  Kenya,  I  am  always  trying  to  learn  from  the

experience  of  others,  always  seeking  the  best  ways  of  building  sustainable  economic development, always planning how we can provide an environment where local and foreign investors are eager to work with us.


I have spoken many times about the Asian Tigers, those countries once at par with, or behind,

Kenya,  and  now  way  ahead  of  us.  My  plan  is  that  Kenya  becomes  the  African  Simba,  the

Lion of Africa, and sets the standard for the continent.


To do this, we must take a very different approach to our national life.


We  have  already  taken  huge  strides  towards  making  it  much  easier  to  do  business  in  our



We have removed much of the red tape and bureaucracy that has made us so uncompetitive in

the past.


Ladies and Gentlemen

As well as these major steps, we shall also concentrate in areas that make a more immediate difference to the life of each individual Kenyan.

Too often, we talk about annual percentage growth, GDP, rising or falling inflation, and other such exalted matters of finance.

Too rarely do we consider how little the ordinary Kenyan can feel of this.


We  must  begin  to  think  of  the  individual,  of  the  cost  of  living  TODAY,  of  having  enough food on the table TODAY, of being able to send the children to school THIS TERM, of being able to afford that URGENT hospital bill, of having a road nearby so that we can market the crop ripening in the field AT THIS MOMENT.


We cannot  always  wait  for  the  long-term  results  of  big  business,  so  we  must  back  up  these

plans with parallel projects to help people improve their lives NOW.


To this end, we have many ideas that are intended to revolutionise our national life.


Ladies and Gentlemen

Our  ODM  manifesto  is  a  carefully  thought-out,  comprehensive  programme  to  change  the direction of this nation.


In  preparing  for  job  creation,  for  example,  we  shall  reform  the  Kenya  Industrial  Estates  to

establish incubation centres in each county, so that people can acquire locally the skills they need to get jobs.

We shall focus education and training systems to be more responsive to industry’s needs.

We  shall  provide  funds  for  enterprise  development  among  marginalised  communities  and

disadvantaged groups, including those living with disabilities and the differently-abled.


In the Kenya we envisage, our youths will be our greatest asset.

We shall invest in business skills development among the youth and women, and then offer

grants – not loans – that will provide the start-up capital to establish viable livelihoods.


We shall give the youth the life-skills they need, so that they don’t fall into the trap of drugs

and alcohol and crime.

Women  are  at  the  core  of  Kenyan  life – yet  their  true  value as  builders  of  this  nation  has

never been acknowledged.

We  shall  sustain  the  march  towards  parity  and  equality  across  the  gender  divide  whose

foundation has been laid.


Ladies and Gentlemen

All these goals tie in with our Vision 2030, and we can only realise Vision 2030 if we have industrial peace.

Over  the  past  few  months,  we  have  seen  many  of  our  workers  lay  down  the  tools,

complaining  of  low  pay  and  poor  working  conditions – university  staff,  medical  staff,  civil servants, teachers.


Just as I have moved determinedly forward in creating an enabling business environment, so I

plan  to  ensure  that  all  working  Kenyans  receive  remuneration  commensurate  with  the contribution they are making to nation-building.


We  intend  to  invest  in  rural  and  cottage  industries  and  to  foster  transformation  through  a good-neighbour system, so that community efforts help each and every person to build his or her house, to plough his or her land, to reap in good time whatever has been sowed.


I believe that, through ensuring social inclusion, social security, and marketable skills, we are

investing  in  sustainable  economic  development – and  that  means  a  quicker  transition  to  a

fully waged society.


Ladies and Gentlemen


Our  country  has  been  ripped  apart  by  factionalism  and tribal  hatred.  This  lack  of  social

cohesion  is  high  on  our  list  of  things  to  be  addressed.  And  I  am  well  aware  that  poverty contributes the largest portion to that kind of insecurity.

Poverty contributes to the ineffectiveness of our police force.

We intend to fully revamp our criminal justice system.  We  shall improve police conditions,

providing  police  officers  with  proper  initial  training,  as  well  as  sustained  retraining  and  the opportunity to acquire wider policing skills.


We  shall  provide  officers  with  decent  housing,  equipment  and  pay  cheques  that  match  the onerous responsibilities of their work in guarding our nation.


Speaking  of  onerous  duties – our  police  officers  have  a  very  onerous  and  important  task coming up soon – that of guarding our elections.

Because of their work, these officers will not be able to vote on March 4th.


In this sense, they are disenfranchised, and I am requesting the IEBC to put in place measures

to  allow  police  officers  to  vote  early,  so  that  they,  too,  have  their  say with  the  rest  of  the nation in electing the leaders of their choice.


All these measures we intend to take will give the police force a new culture and a new pride, guiding it towards a new identity as a pro-people agency of assistance and security.


Ladies and Gentlemen

Speaking of social cohesion brings me to the fundamental underpinnings of ODM as a social-democratic party that advocates the peaceful, evolutionary transformation of society through social inclusion.


Being  a  social-democratic  party  means promoting  a  social-market  economy  where  people have choices, not just at the ballot box but through being stakeholders in their own economic futures.

It means ensuring rights not just to education, but to QUALITY education.


It  means  ensuring  rights  to  accessible  healthcare  facilities – QUALITY  healthcare  that  is available to everyone through a universal health insurance scheme.

Our  social  inclusion  programmes  will  help  close  the  gap  between  the  haves  and  the  have-nots.


We have begun cash-transfer programmes. We shall extend this, so that anyone who cannot

make  a  living  through  no  fault  of  their  own is  not  forced  into  a  life  of  crime,  or  life  on  the streets.


This  transition  to  a  humanly  sustainable  way  of  living  will  loosen  the  grip  that  criminality,

homelessness, hunger, modern diseases, ethnic clashes and other ills have on our society.



And  when  people  are  treated  equally  and  there  is  equity  in  the  distribution  of  our  national

resources,  we  shall  finally  be  able  to  send  ethnicity  to  the  place  where  it  belongs – the museum of curiosities of human history.  NOW is the time.

Ladies and gentlemen –

Only national unity will make possible the great goals we have set for ourselves.

I  have  set  the  bar  for  co-operation  with  fellow  Kenyans  by  entering,  on  your  behalf,  into coalitions with some of my fellow leaders.

At  the  signing  on  Tuesday  this  week  of  the  largest  coalition  agreement  in  our  history,

Kenyans  saw  what  they  had  so  eagerly  been  waiting  for –  the  composition  of  a  new government that will usher in the change that our people have fought and sacrificed so much for over the decades.


Vice-President  Kalonzo  Musyoka,  the  Honourable  Moses  Wetangula  and  I – with  so  many

other  leaders  who  appeared  at  the  formation  of  the  Coalition  for  Reform  and  Democracy

(CORD) – have made a pledge of total commitment to a new future for our beloved country.


In the days to come, other leaders, professionals and activists will join us. All of them realise this election is by far the most important in the history of our country.

This will be the biggest step Kenya has ever taken towards real unity.


The Grand Coalition was a forced marriage but we have still managed to achieve some things

of  significance – the  new  Constitution,  devolution,  and  the  entrenchment  of  integrity  as  an essential pre-requisite for leadership.

We  must  build  on  these  gains  as  a  united  nation,  all  of  us  willing  to  stand  side-by-side  in mutual support.

In  the  search  for  unity and  dignity  of  our  nation,  I  commit,  as  I  have  said  before,  I  will

petition  the  Security  Council  of  the  UN  to  have  the  cases  facing  our  people  before  the

International Criminal Court, referred back to Kenya.

We  have  a  reforming  Judiciary  that  enjoys  the confidence  of  the  people  and  can  handle  the


My  message  is  one  of  peace  and  unity,  just  as  our  national  anthem  prescribes.  We  must “dwell in unity, peace and liberty.”


Our  hearts  must  be  “strong  and  true”  and  service  must  “be  our  earnest  endeavour.”


The third verse of the national anthem contains exactly the message I want to impart to you today:


“Let  all  with  one  accord,  In  common  bond  united,  Build  this  our  nation  together.


“And the glory of Kenya, The fruit of our labour, Fill every heart with thanksgiving.”


Nothing can say it better.


I, Raila Amolo Odinga, am more than READY. Are you ready? Mko tayari?


[Response: Tuko tayari!] Then, let us get on with the job!

ODM! Chungwa! Maisha bora!

Wiper!  Ford-Kenya!  Narc! All the people of Kenya!

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What is the way forward for Africa? Join the Online Discussion

Motherland Africa

We live in a world of continuous changes. Changes create fears and insecurity as well as challenges and possibilities. What continues to differentiate successful countries from others is that in the latter, their leaders failed to anticipate changes and respond to them effectively. There is no doubt that the problems that currently confront Africa are complex and deep-rooted in Africa’s history. However, it can be stated that Africa is poor, underdeveloped, and home to many problems because leaders have failed to respond to changes and challenges and exploit opportunities effectively. Africa continues to suffer from inappropriate policies, bad governance, incompetent, corrupt, and ineffective leaders.

Africa has failed because it lacks the requisite capabilities and the political will to effectively respond to its leadership and governance challenges. Because of poor leadership and governance, Africa is unable to optimally exploit the major developments in science and technology, novel types of production, organizational principles, invention of new goods and services, or adapt innovative forms of social development. There is a need to develop a new way of doing things.

The current problems we face are not new. In fact, these problems are the cumulative consequences of our inability or unwillingness to respond to changes in our midst. Africa is becoming progressively isolated because of being a weak participant in the global marketplace. Africa’s weak position increasingly makes it a victim or casualty of the global changes and challenges. In essence, Africa is a recipient of other people’s ideas and ways of doing things, goods and services.

The persistent negative images of Africa, as a continent in deep trouble, and Africans as people who are unable to solve their own problems is unhealthy and potentially damaging. If Africa cannot challenge these images, then these images will continue to mislead the world and cause many Young Africans to continue doubting their own capabilities and self esteem, and thus undermine their role as levers for change and agents that can provide a better alternative future for Africa. The net result is that Africa must build its requisite capabilities now and respond to its marginalization from world activities. Africa must accelerate its participation in trade and politics, science and technology. Africa must be heard to be seen.

There is no continent that is going to bail out Africa. Africans must, out of necessity solve their own problems. To do this, there is need for a re-thinking of our position followed by imaginative discourses and bold answers. We need competency, honesty, vision, and commitment to fully liberate our minds.

—- Richard Oduor –Nairobi, Kenya.

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Brain Drain in Africa: A Cursory Look at Statistics

Africa is dying a slow death from brain drain; the emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa’s development.

Brain drain is also known as “The human capital flight”. It can be simply defined as the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country. Brain-drain can have many reasons, for example-political instability of a nation, lack of opportunities, health risks, personal conflicts etc. Brain-drain can also be named as “human capital flight” because it resembles the case of capital flight, in which mass migration of financial capital is involved.

“Data on brain drain in Africa is scarce and inconsistent; however, statistics show a continent losing the very people it needs most for economic, social, scientific, and technological progress.

The UNECA estimates that between 1960 and 1989, some 127,000 highly qualified African professionals left the continent. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Africa has been losing 20,000 professionals each year since 1990. This trend has sparked claims that the continent is dying a slow death from brain drain, and the United Nations recognition that “emigration of African professionals to the West is one of the greatest obstacles to Africa’s development.”

Brain drain in Africa has financial, institutional, and societal costs. African countries get little return from their investment in higher education, since too many graduates leave or fail to return home at the end of their studies. Throughout four decades, Africa has been losing its best and brightest, with the implications of brain drain on human resources, institutional capacity, and health/social services.

The challenge now is to mobilize these brains and to get appropriate gains from them for the sustainable development of African countries. Efforts to stem Africa’s brain drain focusing on repatriation strategies were discouraging.  Studies have shown that repatriation will not work so long as African governments fail to address the pull and push factors that influence emigration. Moreover, the relationship between African governments and the African Diaspora remains a major barrier to finding solutions.

One potential solution to this problem affecting Africa is virtual participation. Virtual participation is participation in nation-building without physical relocation. It also shows promise as a means to engage the African Diaspora in development efforts.  The opportunities and conflicting pressures in conjunction with globalization demand new forms of governance that better respond to the needs of an emerging global society. For the public sector, it means changing the role of the State and searching for improved governance systems that, while ensuring peace, stability and respect for human rights, are geared to increased citizens’ participation and better service delivery in a rapidly changing environment. The time has come for the international community and African countries to consider the best prospects for attaining sustainable development through globalization.”

In Aphonse Mekolo and Valentina Resta, Governance Progress in Africa: Challenges and Trends (DPADM Discussion Paper, 2005).


Richard Oduor

Nairobi, Kenya

What are the effects of brain drain and what can Africa do to limit the number of its intellectuals running to greener pastures?

Why are some of the most celebrated African writers based in the West?

Why do most critical African writers work and live in the West and what can be done about it?

This discussion prompt is part of the ‘What is the way for Africa?’ Series you can contribute by sending your article to

Reclaiming the African Dream: Call to the Committed African

The redemption of Africa remains with Africans. Africa can no longer continue heaping piles of blame upon colonialism. It is a case closed. Period. Despite the imperialistic injustices suffered at the hands of the Europeans, we must move on. Charting the way forward is what should disturb us. Reducing unemployment rates, alleviating poverty, acquiring technology that will help treat diseases and investment in African man power is what any sane and committed African needs to worry about. It is imperative to find better ways to improve on modes of governance and establishment of firm institutions that outlast leaders. In other words, passing on of a better world to the future generation is the most persistent thing that should tickle any committed African. But how do we do it without sounding abstract? How can it be done practically so that the common citizen who bears the greatest brunt of incompetent governance, wretched indigence and suffering the most treatable of maladies benefit and live a better life

Here is my two cent worth. First, there must be a commitment by everyone to make him/herself better with whatever we have at our disposal. Whether it is farming, teaching, rearing livestock, writing, acting or just offering advice; it is fundamental to have something that keeps us busy. It is from a started project that an individual may solicit for help which mostly is always financial and at other times, social or even emotional. Back in the rural areas, it is being done with women forming farming groups to help them improve on their farming methods. Young men and women who have not had the chance to join institutions of higher learning are constantly forming groups and writing numerous letters to both governmental and non-governmental offices asking for funds to support their nascent ventures. That is the way forward. I am speaking from the Kenyan context though it resonates well with most African nations. These ventures will help in the reduction of poverty and dependence that is known to drag back most African families.

 Another thing is to constantly put our leaders to account. Especially political leaders because it is them who influence most of the destinies of their nations. Shooting of people demonstrating for their rights as happened in South Africa of platinum miners should be loudly condemned. Massacring of thirty four people should not be allowed in Africa at this age especially when it is done by law enforcement agencies in a country with a vibrant democracy as South Africa. This also goes to the CCM party in Tanzania where police beat up a journalist and ended up dropping tear-gas canister killing him in the most heartless technique ever witnessed. In other words, the electorate of Tanzania cannot allow CCM to continue with this pointless hegemony and must vote out Jakaya Kikwete and his team that embodies such cruelty. Right here at home, the Tana massacres should have prompted the Police Commissioner who is also serving illegally under the constitution to resign. It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens because we pay tax. Condemnation of such atrocities should be loud and made known to the government that the denizens are not pleased.

 Where is the soul of a nation when people are killed up to fifty two and no serious demonstrations take place to express the outrage? Then the killers get more emboldened and set ablaze more houses and another bloodletting follows and we sit back and assume nothing is happening at all. Does it not prick you? Are you not disturbed or is it just normal? After all its just news, so what. Is that how you quip? Down in South Africa when miners were massacred a section of the populace went into demonstrations and their government and the world got the message loud and clear: We Are Fed Up With the Killings! Even in the Arab world it is now possible after the success of the Arab Spring. In a nutshell, everyone must get into the frontlines in ensuring our leaders are accountable for what they do. Telling me you do not love politics does not help the situation but what are you doing with what you love to make the country better?

Africa needs innovatorsThird and the most crucial of all is the use technology to help ourselves. Generation Y have a chance to reclaim the glory of Africa using technology being the most tech-savvy of all the existing generations. The young men in the Arab nations especially Tunisia and Egypt used it in order to ouster their dictators. Why not other African countries? Coming up with helpful innovations that help make things better is the hallmark of being counted in this information age. Look at what M-Pesa has done in the money transfer. Young innovators are busy developing various mobile applications that target the common citizens in order to improve lives. Young people are running online companies and getting self employed hence demystifying the notion that one must get formal employment after school. That is the best way to go. And for those who have learned the ropes, pass the baton to others. Spread the word.

 Lastly, it is the participation of the middle class in the politics of the day. Why are our middle class especially in Kenya taking a distance from the political scene? Or do they want to put the lower class to the fate of Sisyphus who was condemned by the gods to roll a rock to the top only for the rock to roll back. Then Sisyphus would repeat the same process. Is that the fate the middle class want by standing at the periphery then expect the lower class to transform leaders overnight? From solid to liquid. Instantly. No. It cannot happen that way. They should begin dirtying their hands too. Nations like Egypt and Tunisia succeeded in the revolution because the educated masses that mostly constitute the middle class joined in the struggle for a better a nation. And that is what should be replicated in other African nations. Only then negative ethnicity and rampant graft will decline. Only then will that average citizen who survives on less than a dollar have an improved life of feeding him/herself.

About the Author

Amol Awuor is a young Poet, Short Story Writer, Critic and Freelance Analyst of various issues affecting the global society. He can be reached at

He also runs a blog

Nairobi, Kenya

This article is part of the ‘What is the way for Africa?’ Series you can contribute by sending your article to