Paul Tillich said, “the first duty of love is to listen”, and that is what the CARE for AIDS staff took time to do last Monday in Kenya. The week prior, Kenyans voted in presidential and local elections. Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected as president, and the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga - who rejected the results of the election - decided to pursue his case in the Supreme Court, which was welcome news since a possible alternative was calling his supporters to take to the streets. As it was, there were pockets of protests that resulted in violence in opposition strongholds for a few days after the election results were announced, but generally the elections were peaceful, and after a quiet, tense week where everyone stayed home from work anticipating, but hoping against, violence, Kenya went back to business as usual.
Kenyan politics are traditionally divided along tribal lines. Cornel and Duncan, two cofounders of CARE for AIDS, come from the two tribes that are the most opposed politically. Their story of friendship and their co-leadership at CARE for AIDS is a strong statement against arbitrary divisions and a testament to what we can achieve when we overcome our differences and work together toward a common vision.
On Monday, August 14, as the rest of Kenya went back to work, the CARE for AIDS staff met together in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa to debrief the election- to affirm our unity and to discuss strategies of peace building.
The CARE for AIDS staff is a diverse representation of the tribes in Kenya, and there were strong and differing opinions about the elections. Some in the organization were triumphant, and others disappointed by the results. During the meetings on Monday, the staff shared their experiences in the polling stations and shared what they liked about the election - this election was better organized than others they had experienced, for example - and what they didn’t like. There were small group sessions to brainstorm ways that we as an organization can promote peace and unity, and how we can counsel our clients in doing the same. The day ended with people sharing what they love about their country and people sang and prayed in their tribal tongues to celebrate the beautiful diversity of Kenya.
The main message of the day came down to something that is a good reminder for everyone. It doesn’t matter who the president is. It doesn’t matter who your leader is. Your responsibility to each other as Christians and as fellow-citizens does not change.
What is required of us?
It’s simple really:
“To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:8