The Church as the Bulwark against Authoritarianism: Development of Church and State in Kenya with Particular Reference to the Years after Political Independence 1963-1992
Ochola, John N., Journal of Church and State
The Church as the Bulwark against Authoritarianism: Development of Church and State in Kenya with Particular Reference to the Years after Political Independence 1963-1992. By Gideon Gichuhi Githiga. Oxford: Regnum, 2001. np.
The author, now a bishop of the Anglican Church in Kenya, weaves together a large amount of material taken from newspapers, magazines, church papers, presidential speeches, and interviews with church leaders, into a book that manifests itself, in both content and style, as a doctoral thesis. The purpose of the work is to investigate the political involvement of the church in Kenya. In the ten chapters in the book, Githiga discusses the beginning of the church in Kenya and its relationship with the state at independence, during the Kenyatta presidency (1963-1978), and during the first part of the Moi era from 1978 to the introduction of multiparty politics in 1992. The last chapter concludes with a theological analysis of the mission of the church in the Kenyan context.
The author succeeds in demonstrating how the active involvement of the church in the political process contributed to the restoration of multiparty democracy, achieved after a long struggle through a constitutional amendment in 1992. The prophetic ministry, press releases, and pastoral letters were the major instruments that the church used in the fight for democracy.
The author also succeeds in giving credit to the church leaders who took the leading role in the fight for democracy. Those leaders are identified as David Gitari, Henry Okullu, Alexander Muge (all from the Anglican Church), Timothy Njoya of the Presbyterian Church, and the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. These church leaders, under the umbrella of the National Council of Churches in Kenya and the Kenya Episcopal Conference, collaborated with the Law Society of Kenya and other politicians to force the authoritarian government to accede to the demand for multiparty democracy. Thus, the author makes clear the role the church played in returning multiparty democracy to Kenya and underscores the fact that, in the Kenyan context, there is no dichotomy between politics and religion. "In modern Kenya, power does not rest on politics alone but also on religious sanction" (p. 12). Kenyan political leaders would want to take cognizance of this fact.
Despite its obvious strength, there are some drawbacks to the book. First, it is dappled with some misspellings. …