Pope Francis knew exactly what Kenyans wanted – a criticism of the UhuRuto government. And the Pope didn’t disappoint them. He used colorful language to describe corruption which President Uhuru Kenyatta has acknowledged to a national disaster.
The enthusiastic response to the Popes anti-corruption speech was an expression of disappointment with the measures that the government is taking against the vice. It was also an expression of their dilemma.
Every Kenyan understands that left to their devises, the government would bring back the oppressive system that they fought to remove. It was for this reason that they invited the International Criminal Court to help them after the violence that followed the 2007 elections. Yet today, Kenyans have been muscled you denounce the invitation. Now we sing the same song – Foreigners were meddling in Kenya issues. What about the Pope?
Overwhelmed with enthusiasm, even the political system which is the focus of the criticism is joining the masses to praise Pope Francis. But soon they will realize the harm that the Pope’s anticorruption message is doing to the style of governance. Will they turn around and call him all kinds of names? Organize prayers to condemn the Pope in churches and thickets?
Corruption Destroys the Heart
The Pope likened the temptation to take bribe to an unhealthy desire for sugar. “Each time… we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts – we destroy our personalities and we destroy our country. Please don’t develop that taste for that sugar that is corruption.”
Tribalism goes hand in hand with corruption. In deed corruption breads tribalism and tribalism breeds corruption. A corrupt man or woman wants a person they can trust to protect their ill-gotten wealth. And who can do the job better that a father, a mother, a brother, a sister and the whole lot of their tribe? And which other way is better to persuade them than by cheating them that they also are beneficiaries of the corrupt system?
Joblessness and Corruption
Corruption drains a country of resources. It retards development. And soon the youth have no employment because a shrinking economy does not create jobs. That is why, while addressing the problem of radicalization the Pope emphasized the need to create jobs for the youth. “If a young woman or man has no work, cannot study, what can he or she do? The first thing we have to do to stop a young person to be recruited is education and work.”
It was obvious that President Uhuru Kenyatta was deeply touched by the Pope and his message. He was as gleeful while standing next to Pope as he must have been to stand before a priest as a small boy at St. Mary’s (Catholic Church) School. How long the effect will last, only Uhuru knows – or perhaps even he himself doesn’t know!
Our prayer – the Kenyan prayer is that it will last long enough for him to heed the Constitutional clauses that prohibit leaders implicated in corruption being reappointed to public offices. We know that many of the people he has recently appointed to his cabinet do not pass the integrity test.