I Stand with the Catholic Church in Homage to Arch-Bishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki

By Alexander Opicho - Lodwar, Kenya

Arch-Bishop, Cardinal, Raphael Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki died late March 2020 at the age of 89.He died during pandemic times of covid-19, this were times which the world was observing the policy of self-isolation in effort to avert spread of the covid-19 disease. In Kenya, we had already begun observing the burial policy of not having more than fifteen family members to attend a burial.

This was so bad experience , especially when one imagines about a cardinal of democracy, freedom, justice, truth and human rights in the station of Mwana A’ Nzeki c being buried by less than a dozen people. I tell you, version 19 of the Corona virus is an impeachment to our human civilization. An impeachment that has been tried by history and proved to be harmless, harmless in evidence of the historical fact that huge crowds at one’s burial are not an indicator of future greatness, burial crowds don’t matter in one’s posthumous(post-burial)life and history. Karl Marx was buried by less than five people; one among them was Hellene Demuth, his house girl and secret mother to Marx’s bastard son, but few years later, three quarters of the governments of the world were formed on the basis of Marxist thought, two of them emerged to be world powers, I mean Russia and China. Karl Marx died in the same century Leo Tolstoy died, Tolstoy died on a wooden bench at an abandoned railway station in a company of his under- aged daughter, and indeed it was so miserable and discouraging. But look! After the philosophical explosion of Nihilism and Tolstoy’s inspiration to great minds like Gandhi and King Jnr., Tolstoyan literature is now a cultural world-power ruling nations of minds and thrones of cultures, even the early-grade hearing and seeing impaired school girls of today are all aware of Anne Karenina, War and Peace, How Much land does a Man need and the Resurrection. Little did I need to mention that Jesus Christ was buried in a borrowed grave-the grave which his two brothers; John and James who were employed to work as donkey–cart drivers for Joseph of Arimathea had borrowed from their employer, and not to forget the death in humility of Prophet Muhammad who died after being sick from food poisoning by a Qurayish tribes-woman, he was sick for some time and then died on the borrowed death-bed in the house of his sister. But today the world is ruled by Christianity and Islam.This is a clear testimony that humility in death is not a decimation to one’s future history, and hence humble burial of Bishop Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki in the times of covid-19 will not deface future history of Kenya’s struggle to freedom from Gestapo tyranny of Moi’s time, Cardinal Ndingi, your death in times of Covid-19 is a platform on which future history of freedom and Justice will stand to get glorified all over the world, no conscious humanity will ever forget what you did for the powerless people of Kenya under the tyrannical reign of Moi.

And it is true, we still remember, we have not forgotten that those pretending to be angels of empathy at your funeral, sending out condolences and commiserating with your family and the entire catholic fraternity are just faceless pretenders. We know them; they come from the generation of vipers. They are shrewd serpents of selfish politics of Kenya, only taking advantage of your well spend-life to be used as a basis of gaining their personal political mileage. We know them, they were very silent and wearing the blinkers on the political brutality of the day when you were the only one among very few others that braved up to shout the truth at power, when power had brutally murdered Father John Kaiser, Julie Ward, Robert Ouko, Titus Adongosi, Dr Fred Masinde, Bishop Alexander Muge and many other poor souls of Kenya that had been by then crushed under the brutal foot of detention without trial,state-sponsored tribal violence looming from Mount Elgon to Molo as well as tribal profiling that had condemned Kenyan workers to the abyss of poverty and despair.

My dear young reader, Cardinal Ndingi was productive in his mid-age years, when he was the Bishop of Nakuru Diocese. This was during the 80’s and 90’s of the last century. By then I was a Catholic faithful in my twenties but properly crushed by child-hood poverty, poverty that was intentionally propagated by the panicky and selfish political leadership of that time. In those days, Nakuru town was a criminalized region, some characters had jumped out of the pages of Imbuga’s Betrayal in the City, Orwell’s 1984, Zola’s Seminal, Ngugi’s Matigari and as well as some characters retrograding from the future pages of Ngugi’s Wizard of the Crow to mislead the Jogoo and Nyayo government in Kenya of that time that some followers of Fidel Castro, Julius Nyerere, Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Paul Freire, Pablo Neruda, Antonio Gramsci , Mao Tse Tung, Leon Trotsky, Gamal Naser, Che Gue Vera and Muhmmar Gadaffi were footloose gadabouts and layabouts walking around the back streets of Nakuru town with nefarious intentions of peeling off the mask of power. So, in brief, it was not easy time for those living with liberal mind. But against all odds, the moneyless, physically insignificant and materially humble Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki was living as liberal and free-thinking politico-spiritual leader. He spoke truth to power without fear; he shared this bitter crown of thorns with the Mauverick Sheikh Mbalala of Mombasa.

Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki did this in contradistinction to fashionable sell-out choices of his religious colleagues in the likes of Bishop Okullu and Bishop Cornelius Korir, they were working as spies on the religious community on behalf of the then Kenyan Gestapo government, the sorriest was Bishop Cornelius Korir who believed that it was not sin for a politically correct Kalenjin clansman and Catholic faithful to take a bow and an arrow then pierce to death a politically marginalized Kikiyu catholic owning a handkerchief sized parcel of land in Molo town . Cornelius Korir was a beautiful pretender, he was an epitome of the ethnic based upper class Christians betraying the lower class Christians, just the same way the Christian spiritual leaders in the charismatic Pentecostalism within the realm of chiliastic movement were only preaching the end of the world and the urgent need for poor faithful to bring money to the church for pastors to use in serving God ; good luck, Ndingi was not part of this sleazy buffoonery, he was focused on the imperative issue of the day; Daniel Toroitich arap Moi to stop oppressing Kenyans, period. A lesson enough for illiterate and primitive shamans like the self-congratulatory Dr David Awuori stop telling people that covid-19 is killing people because Jesus is coming. It is shame for a molecular scientist like Dr Awuori to tell Kenyans that people are getting killed by covid-19 because Jesus is coming; only a rapscallion can perpetrate such religious sludge. This can be described as nothing else other than utter betrayal to the church, the church which must have gotten disillusioned off its traditionally universalized fog of chiliastic phantasmagoria to preach science for the sake of human comfort and safety.

And it is not difficult task if only one resolves, the series of repulses will do nothing, they did nothing to the resolute Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki. He did not have arms or weapons to fight Moi’s Gestapo State machinery. Ndingi was only armed with one weapon; love for truth. He had passionate love for truth. He was not armed with a loud voice to shout the truth; he was a low voiced, ever smiling soft-spoken tireless speaker of truth. He was neither arrogant nor haughty in pose, but instead he was humble in a long catholic black dress for the priests. But in a full military gear of spiritual éclat, composed of intellectual honesty, intellectual bravado, love for justice and readiness to die for what God wants mankind to follow. The virtues which thrived from his inner potential that was fertile enough to nourish righteousness, the inner potential that was made of being satisfied with what you are but not being a captive of the snobbish syndrome that drives many to chase after property including property that they don’t need.

He was not any exception, Just like many other lovers of truth, Ndingi was a victim of a thousand and one plots of betrayal, but as of today I have realized that betrayal is petty, I mean any form of betrayal; from sorcery to envy, snobbery to bigotry, conspiracy to hatred, assassination to detentions, censuring to economic persecutions, mudslinging to witch-hunting- I can confirm to you my dear reader, they are all petty. All are efforts of the vain mankind that cannot undermine God’s plan through a chosen one. This is why the words of Amilcar Cabral in his homage to Kwame Nkurumah as published in Unity and Struggle have some value in this moment; ‘You cannot betray brightness of the sky by covering it with your own stretched fingers; You cannot vilify the sky by throwing saliva at it, you only end up vilifying your own face’. And it is true, those that wanted to vilify the sky-like broadly good course of Ndingi Mwana A’ Nzeki, they only vilified their own personal faces. Vivam.

Alexander Opicho writes from Lodwar, Kenya - [email protected]