ISSUE/EDITION Nr 459 - 01/07/2003


The Church speaks out on current insecurity


Insecurity is increasing and the Church has spoken out on the issue

In April this year, Kenya’s Minister for Internal Security, Dr. Chris Murungaru, told Kenyans that the country is not doing too badly vis à vis security, as the crime level has been reduced by 50% in the first one hundred days of the new National Alliance (Rainbow) Coalition Government (NARC)’s existence. He said: «Cases of murder, robbery, rape and banditry have gone down tremendously and are expected to go down further as retraining of police officers get underway».

Many people, however, are not too convinced by the Minister’s statement, considering the ongoing violence against individuals. Neither have church personnel been spared.

For example, on 11 April, a gang of car-jackers attacked a Catholic priest, Father Martin Macharia Njoroge of Nairobi’s Saint Xavier Church, Parklands, at Zimmerman, about 15 kilometres from Nairobi where he had taken a student for the priesthood. They shot the priest several times. He died later at Nairobi’s Aga Khan Hospital on 16 April.

On 12 April, three Catholic priests of Christ the King Parish, Embakasi, Nairobi were attacked and robbed during the night.

On 16 March, Sister Anna Nanjala was killed by bandits in the Catholic diocese of Lodwar in the north, close to Kenya/Uganda border. She belonged to the Ursuline Congregation.

Catholic Church leaders have reacted strongly to attacks on their personnel. Nairobi’s Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana A’Nzeki blamed the issue of insecurity on «too many guns in the wrong hands». He recommended that the authorities should inspect vehicles coming to Kenya from neighbouring countries. Following Sister Nanjala’s death, Lodwar’s Bishop Patrick Harrington stressed that human life is sacred. «No person can claim the right to destroy another human being. We want security now. Governing is not just about conference, infighting for jobs and photo opportunities. At the very minimum and at its most basic, the government’s duty and obligation is to provide security for all citizens and residents. The Turkana (the local people) are calling for this minimum right».

Insecurity in the north

Others have spoken up on the issue. On 31 March, when launching a book entitled: «Profiling Small Arms and Insecurity in the Northern Region of Kenya», the Internal Security Minister, Dr. Chris Murungaru, promised that the Government will strengthen security in these districts and intensify livestock development and other alternative means of livelihood.

The book is a detailed account of the proliferation of arms in Kenya’s regions of Turkana, Marakwet, Pokot and Samburu (all prone to cattle rustling activities). The author hopes that the findings in this book will contribute in challenging the relevant authorities and interested parties to come up with sustainable long-term solutions to the problem, such as effective measures in licensing arms, curbing the illegal trade in arms and other light weapons, and, hopefully, eradicating the growing gun culture in the north and in other parts of the country.

The author recognizes the Church’s role in combatting the proliferation of weapons among these pastoral communities in Kenya. «The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) have initiated a joint project to work for peace and reconciliation. This includes development and security along Kenya and Uganda’s common border».

On 15 March, Kenya joined other nations committed to combatting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, by burning an estimated 7,224 weapons. Vice-President Michael Kijana Wamalwa officiated at the ceremony and remarked: «While I recognize that the problem of fighting the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons in a daunting task, it must be solved for the security and prosperity of our people».

Is the campaign a success? An editorial comment in the 23 April Daily Nation seems to indicate otherwise. After stating that three people have been shot dead by gangsters in Nairobi’s Eastlands estate in less than a week, this is a clear indication of the level of insecurity in the city. «For all practical purposes, the campaign to rid the city of bad elements seems to be failing. The few gains made in the past are being overcome fast».

  • Francis Njuguna, Kenya, May 2003 — © Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment


PeaceLink 2003 - Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgement