Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The Christian /Muslim Connection and their Point of Departure...
By P. Felix Miheso Shivanda
Islam is one among the three major monotheistic religions in the world, who claim to have a common ancestor, Abraham as the foundation of their faith. The rise of Islam has mixed influence on both Christians and Muslims. The occurrences in the day today unfolding comes with its challenges amidst the branding of Islam as a terrorist religion and that brand is stuck and it will take long time to be purified.

The Meaning of Islam
The term ‘Islam’ comes from the Arabic word Salam which means peace. Arabic 'islām, submission, from 'aslama, to surrender, resign oneself, from Syriac 'ašlem, to make peace, surrender, derived stem of šlem, to be complete; see šlm in Semitic roots. According to Mvumbi, says,
 “With time it came to acquire the current meaning that is submission to the will of Allah (God). Islam means peace attained through voluntary self-surrender to God. Therefore, a Muslim is the one who strives to submit himself to Allah.”[1]
When a person totally surrenders himself or herself to the will of God, he or she will have peace because God will be always guiding him or her. Moreover, El-falah argues that “literally,
 Islam means peace, submission and obedience. The Religion is the complete acceptance of the teachings and guidance of God as revealed to his prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).”[2]
However, Islam is not just a religion but a culture and everything pertaining to human life. Here Mvumbi argues,
“Islam is not simply a system of doctrines and religious practices; it is a complete civilization. Islam is a faith; a rite; a law; ethics; Islam is a political institution; it is a culture and also a spirituality.[3]
This is evidently seen in the expansion of Islamic states.

The Rise of Islam
You cannot talk of Islam and at the same time disassociate it with its founder and prophet who preached it, Muhammad ibin Abdallah. However, the Muslims do not believe that their religion began with Muhammad for he is just the last prophet among many other predecessors in the line of prophetic tradition that runs from Adam through Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Amos, John the Baptist, Jesus and many others.[4]

This clearly indicates that even Muhammad himself never believed to be the founder of a new religion but rather the prophet who was sent by God to preach and correct the monotheistic religion which was distorted by Judaism and Christianity. Muhammad, according to R. Maqsood, was born in the year of the elephant (570 C.E.). This year is called the year of the elephant, which is named after the failed destruction of Mecca that year by the Aksumite king Abraha who had in his army a number of elephants. Mohammad was a member of the ruling Quraysh, a tribe that claimed to trace its lineage back to Ishmael, son of Abraham. Muhammad’s grandfather is remembered as having rediscovered the site of the Well of Zamzam in Mecca, the place where Hagar found water for her son, Ishmael.

 According to ancient Arabic tradition. Arabic tradition before Muhammad also held that Abraham and Ishmael had built the Ka‘bah, which contained within it a mysterious and large black stone. By the time of Muhammad this shrine had come to house many religious deities, among them one who was called Allah, Arabic for “the God.”
This tracing of the lineage in Arab tribes back to Abraham and Ishmael can be the foundation of monotheistic faith in Muhammad and Islam, since they share a common ancestor with other monotheistic religions (Judaism and Christianity) which also trace back to Abraham as their foundation of faith. However, Muhammad’s father, Abdallah died when Muhammad was not yet born.

He was then raised by his uncle Abu Talib from the age of eight after his mother and his grandfather died. His uncle, Abu Talib introduced him in trade activities on caravans. The experience of caravan routes made him to be well known and liked to the point of being nicknamed ‘the trustworthy’ (al Amin).This was due to the fact that he was an honest, fair, and a pious man. Muhammad was later employed by a wealthy widow who later on became his wife.[5] Muhammad began to receive revelations at the age of forty in the year 610 C.E. It was the angel Gabriel who revealed the prophetic role of Muhammad by ordering him to recite certain words. Although Muhammad refused to recite them because he was unable to read, he managed to do so after having been forced by the angel. “He was ordered to learn them, and repeat them to others. Thus, came the first revelation of verses of the book now known as the Qur’an (the Recitation).”[6] Moreover, these revelations took place for about twenty-three years and were later written in the book (Qur’an) by his followers under the great influence of his successors, the caliphs.[7]

Muhammad then preached the devotion and submission to Allah (God) who is only one, transcendent, and immanent. This is why he “was commissioned to warn his people to abandon their idolatry and greed, and to urge them to worship God alone.”[8] When Muhammad started preaching his new religion in his hometown of Mecca, his message was not received well by his people and he encountered a lot of resistance from his kinsmen.

 His effort drew the opposition of the leaders of the Quraysh as well. The financial benefits Mecca reaped from those who came to worship the various deities housed in the Ka‘bah were significant. They were more than 360 idols of tribal patron deities and was the site of annual pilgrimage.
Muhammad’s activities and preaching about worshiping Allah alone were soon to pose a threat to the city’s revenues. Jomier argues,
 “Rejected by his clan, Muhammad had to find new protectors at any price; otherwise, according to the law of the desert, the first comer could assassinate him without any fear of reprisal”[9]
Because of this, he and his followers had to flee the town because of fear of persecutions. So, he decided to accept the invitation from Yathrib, sending the majority of his followers ahead to the city to wait for him. Then one evening under the cover of darkness the Prophet and his closest associates fled Mecca.

They were pursued by their opponents in the city but managed to escape by hiding out in the caves nearby. It was in the year 622, when Muhammad fled to Yathrib (Medina) where he was welcomed by residents who saw him as the new ruler who can reconcile them. This emigration to Medina is called the Hijrah (migration) and it marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.[10]

 The Muslims’ numbers rapidly increased in Yathrib. Muhammad’s reputation as a political leader began to spread to other cities and among the tribes in the countryside. A military force was organized from among the people of Medina to extend and defend the Muslim religion, laying the initial foundations of a new monotheistic political state.

The revelations the Prophet continued to receive instructed the Muslims to exterminate polytheism and idolatry. The choice they were called to offer idolaters was simple: worship the one true God or face death. In 630, Muhammad and his companions conquered Mecca, destroyed the idols present in the Kaaba (the temple) and made it the mosque.[11]

They met no resistance, and all of Mecca shortly thereafter became Muslim. Most of Arabia was by this time united under the Prophet’s rule, with Mecca and Medina, the two cities of the Prophet, forming its symbolic center. In 631 Muhammad ruled that no unbelievers could henceforth enter Mecca. Pilgrimage to that city continued to be a central Muslim practice, but now to a Ka’bah cleansed of all idols.

In the course of the next two years most of the remaining Arab tribes joined the new Islamic movement, and an initial military expedition had even been carried out against several cities in southern Mesopotamia. Among those over whom the Prophet’s political control now reached was the Christian community in the south that was centered in the city of Najran.

The Influence of Christianity on Islam

Christianity and even Judaism influenced Muhammad to the great extent. During the years of his youth, he went several times on caravans with Abu Talib. Muslim tradition tells of one such journey to Syria when Muhammad was twelve. The travellers were staying at a monastery when a Christian monk saw a bright light over the young boy’s head, leading the monk to prophesy that Muhammad would one day become a great prophet.

Other Muslim sources tell of Christians who influenced the Prophet in Mecca, including an Ethiopian Christian slave named Jabr.[12] Moreover, Jacques Jomier argues that in Mecca there were Christian slaves, merchants and itinerant monks who came to preach in the town and that even among Mohammad’s followers some were Christians who knew the scriptures.[13] This may be the reason of his knowledge about Christianity which appears in the Qu’ran even if with a lot of misunderstanding and contradiction with the doctrines of Christian mainstream. This indicates that the knowledge that Muhammad had about Jesus and Christianity may be from apocryphal writings which was a result of Christian heretical movements such as Jewish-Christianity. Quoting Joseph Kenny, Mvumbi says,

Jewish-Christianity was a form of Christianity best known by Arabs at the time of Muhammad. It’s doctrine must have strongly influenced Islam for we find many parallels between Jewish-Christianity and the form of Christianity mentioned in the Qur’an. Some of these similarities are: Jewish – Christians accepted only the Torah and the Gospel of Matthew as inspired book; Jesus was not divine but an angelic creature; they prayed facing Jerusalem which was also the first qibla of the Muslims before they turned towards Mecca. Jewish – Christianity, in its many forms, may not be considered a new religion but a practice of people who had not embraced Christianity in total since it was regarded as a blend of Judaism and Christianity. Thus Jewish – Christians were those Jews who acknowledged Christ as a prophet or messiah but not as the son of God. Jesus is no more than a man; he is a creature in the order of an angel. This is the type of Christianity the Qur’an refers to.[14]
In order to understand why and how Muhammad was influenced mainly by heretical movements, let’s look into the Arabian context. The Arabia had long been a land on the margins of two world empires. For centuries its people lived on the borders of the Roman and Persian states without having been absorbed into either one. Several small Arab kingdoms were also formed along the borders where they had become client-states of either empire. Mostly, they were organized according to traditional tribal patterns. In addition, the Arab people were both farmers (nomads) and traders. This is the result of two prominent cities of Yathrib (Medina) and Mecca. Moreover, the Christian movements could only claim a scattering of followers in Arabia during these years.

 A number of individual ascetics had immigrated into the deserts in the North. Some were refugees from East Roman persecutions directed towards non-chalcedonians, while others were escaping Persian persecutions. So, up to 6th century, both Christian and Jewish numbers were on the increase in Arabia. What are Muhammad’s teaching concerning Christianity and Jesus?

      Concerning Christianity, Muhammad taught that Jesus (called Isa in the Qur’an) had been a great prophet who was especially chosen by God (3:45-60). The Qur’an accords a great deal of honour to his mother, Mary (3:40-47;19). When Mary’s family challenged her for having a child out of wedlock, the baby Jesus spoke in her defense (19:30-33), a miracle that substantiates for Islam both the virginal birth and the prophetic office of Jesus.

According to Surah 19:3, Jesus’ birth took place under a palm tree whose fruits nourished his mother, a story that reflects a tradition also found in the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew. Echoing a tradition found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, another early Christian book considered apocryphal, the Qur’an says that as a child Jesus made clay birds and breathed life into them to make them fly (5:10).

Jesus is called the Messiah in the Qur’an (4:171), a title no other prophet receives. The Qur’an assigns to Jesus a special role as well in the final resurrection of the dead on the day of judgement. These are strong themes that pervade all of Islamic teaching. Jesus is called the Word (kalimah) (4:171) and had the Holy Spirit from God in a special way (5:110). His spiritual empowerment was witnessed to in his miracles and healings, which included raising some from the dead (3:49).

One of the miracles he performed was to call down from heaven a table for his disciples that was set with food, a reference to the Christian Eucharist (5:111-115). By way of contrast, Muhammad is said to have performed no miracle other than that of delivering the Qur’an. For this last reason alone, Mohammad (and not Jesus) is the final prophet and the seal of the prophets.

At two specific points the Qur’an, and with it the entire Islamic faith, breaks sharply with orthodox Christian belief regarding Jesus. First according to the Qur’an, Jesus was not crucified; God only made it appear thus to his enemies (4:157). Although the Qur’an speaks of an eventual ascension of Jesus (echoing in Surah 4:158 the New Testament phrase that God raised him up), the Qur’an is otherwise silent regarding the death Jesus suffered.

The second, and by far the more important challenge, is to the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which Islam believes to be in error. The Qur’an categorically rejects the notion that God has a Son, along with what considers to be the Christian practice of saying that Jesus and his mother, Mary, are equal to God. “Believe in God and His Apostles, and do not call him ‘Trinity,” it strictly enjoins (4:171). Jesus was a man through whom God chose to reveal the gospel. He never called upon others to worship him, according to Surah 5. Muslims believe the statement that God is three is a blasphemy that Jesus’ followers, the Christians, later introduced.

Had the revelations Muhammad received pertained only to such doctrines concerning the nature of Jesus and his relation to God, Islam might have been perceived to be simply a new Christian party. Through the ages many Christian theologians have in fact regarded Islam in this way, seeing it essentially as a Christian heresy. From the Qur’an itself, however, it is clear that Muhammad and the Muslim community understood themselves to be institutionally distinct from Christianity.
The basic tenets of Islam practice, often called the five pillars of Islam, were instituted early in Medina. To this day Muslims observe these five fundamental exercises of their faith. They recite the Shahada, or witness that there is no God, but God and that Muhammad is his messenger (“ashadu al-la ilaha illa-llahu wa ashadu anna Muhammadan rasulu-Alla”). This is the most important pillar and a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam.

 The second is Salat (prayer). This is offered five times a day (similar to the monastic Christian tradition of prayer being offered seven times each day).
 The third pillar is the Zakat, (alms-giving). Muslims give alms to the poor, and the miserable; to stranded travelers and for sustenance of new converts; to the one who collects the Zakat and for the spread of Islam.
 This amounts to around 3 per cent of their annual income. The fourth pillar entails fasting (Sawm) from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan each year. Muslims are called to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse in order to encourage a feeling of nearness to God by expressing their gratitude for and dependence on Allah, atone for their past sins and think of the needy.

This is an exercise that again is similar to the Christian fast of Lent. The fifth pillar is the Hajj. This is the pilgrimage during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. If possible, every Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the kaaba, touching the black stone, running seven times between mount Safa and mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the devil in Mina. Moreover, the pilgrim (Haji) is honored in his/her community. This is another means of gaining social status.[15]
Moreover, there are also three additional practices essential to Islam. The first one is Jihad. This is striving in the way of God. It is exerting one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors, or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation, depending on the object being a visible enemy, the devil, and aspects of one’s own self. This is used in general term (s. 2:190).
The second is Amr-Bil Ma’rufu. This is the enjoining to do good which calls for every Muslim to live a virtuous life and to encourage others to do the same. The third one is Nahi-Anil-Munkar. This is the exhortation to resist from evil. It tells Muslims to refrain from vice and from evil actions and also to encourage others to do the same.
Even though these pillars resemble the Christian practices (especially those of monasticism) on many fronts, the differences are enough to make clear to the followers that they were not simply a branch of Christianity.

Apart from the Qur’an, Muslims also draw their teaching from Hadith. These are oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the prophet. They are regarded as important tools for determining the Sunnah (Muslim way of life). The hadith can be divided into three categories based on their content: A statement of the prophet; an action of the prophet; the prophet’s affirmation of an action done by someone other than him.

The Effects of Islam on the Church

Islam brought a lot of effects into Christianity. It should be noted that when Mohamed fled to Yathrib (Medina), formed a military campaign both for religious and political purposes. A military force was organized from among the people of Medina to extend and defend the Muslim religion, laying the initial foundations of a new monotheistic political state.
In the case of the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, the Prophet was told not to seek to exterminate their religion and communities. These three faiths were monotheistic and were founded upon earlier revelations of divine scriptures. Despite the distortions that had been introduced into each religion, according to Surah 5:69, their members will be spared on judgment day.

Believers from among the other monotheistic religions were invited to convert to Islam, but Muslims were not to compel them in the same way as the idolaters. Christians and Jews who chose not to join the Muslim movement were eventually granted limited legal status within the Islamic state as dhimmi (“protected people”). Their members continued to be encouraged to convert to Islam, while being strictly forbidden to try to convert anybody among Muslims.

Due to these limitations, many Christians joined Islamic religion for different reasons which include political, economic, social, and philosophical as well as spiritual. This was evident especially under the expansion of Islamic states through conquering non-Islamic states. This started with Muhammad himself when he conquered Mecca and continued by his successors (Caliphs) and followers. According to Ruqaiyyah Maqsood, “The formula was ‘Islam, tribute, or the sword’, the sword being reserved for those who refused to cooperate and pay the appropriate taxes. Those who did convert to Islam lived tax-free.”[16]

From this motto you can see the tribulations upon which almost half of the Christian world underwent. This was a great setback to Christianity as it lost its territories and many Christians gave in to Islam. Moreover, “The dhimmis as non-Muslim subjects of a state were governed in accordance with a sharia law. The term connotes an obligation of the state to protect the individual, including the individual’s life, property, and freedom of religion and worship in exchange for subservience and loyalty to the Muslim order.

The dhimmis were forbidden to bear arms. They were refrained from mounting on saddles. They had to wear clothes with special emblems and rise in the presence of Muslims. They were also not allowed to display non-Muslim religious symbols such as crosses and icons on buildings or on clothing. A dhimmi man was not allowed to marry a Muslim woman, and the punishment was death.

When a non-Muslim wife is converted to Islam while a non-Muslim husband is not, their marriage is annulled. The dhimmis were also barred from government and responsible administrative offices for fear of treason and treachery. Moreover, the Dhimmi communities were subjected to the payment of taxes in favour of Muslims. Surah 9: 29 stipulates that jizya be exacted from non-Muslims as a condition required for Jihad to cease. Failure to pay the Jizya could result in the pledge of protection of a dhimmi’s life and property becoming void, with the dhimmi facing the alternatives of conversion, enslavement, imprisonment, or death.”[17] With all these kind of humiliations, segregations, and torture, it becomes clear why many non-Muslims especially the Christians gave in to Islamic religion.


We have seen how Islam was influenced by Christianity and how it came to affect Christianity to the point of creating enmity and even engaging in warfare against each other. The Jihad (for Moslems) and the Crusades (for Christians) are the result of this enmity. What is initially considered to be the religion of peace (from the term Islam as seen above) becomes the religion of the sword. Hence, hatred and enmity among Muslim and non-Muslim communities is inevitable under the name of true religion.
            However, history tells us that the use of violence cannot solve the problems. What is needed is dialogue between parties to discuss and understand their differences in  search for the proper and enduring peace among the parties. Thanks to the Catholic Church for promoting this dialogue to strengthen a healthy relationship between the Christians and Muslims.


ADAMS, C. J., “Islam”, in The World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago: Field Enterprises    Educational Corporation, 1973.
DHARMARAJ, G. E. – DHARMARAJ, J. S., Christianity and Islam: A Missiological   Encounter, Delhi: The Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1999.
EL-FALAH., Islam At a Glance, Cairo: El-Falah foundation, 1997.
JOMIER, J., How to Understand Islam, London: SCM Press Ltd., 1989.
MAQSOOD, R., Islam, Chicago: NTC/ Contemporary Publishing Company, 2004.
MVUMBI, F. N., The Journey into Islam: An Attempt to Awaken Christians in Africa, Nairobi: The Catholic university of Eastern Africa Publications, 2006.
ROBINSON, N., Islam: A Conscience Introduction, Washington D.C: Georgetown University Press, 1999.
VERHOEVEN, F. R. J., Islam: Its Origin and Spread in Words, Maps and Pictures, New York:            St. Martin’s Press, 1962.
The Koran, Trans. DAWOOD, N. J., Middlesex: Penguin Books Ltd., 1959.

[1] F. N. Mvumbi, Journey into Islam: An Attempt to Awaken Christians in Africa, 1.
[2] EL-FALAH, Islam at a Glance, 3.
[3] F. N. Mvumbi, Journey into Islam: An Attempt to Awaken Christians in Africa, 1.
[4] Cf. G. E. DHARMARAJ – J. S. DHARMARAJ, Christianity and Islam, 10 – 12.
[5] Cf. R. MAQSOOD, Islam, 5 – 6.
[6] R. MAQSOOD, Islam, 6.
[7] Cf. F. R. J. VERHOEVEN, Islam: Its Origin and Spread in Words, Maps and Pictures, 23.
[8] N. ROBINSON, Islam: A Conscience Introduction, 19. 
[9]  J. JOMIER, How to Understand Islam, 12.
[10] Cf. J. JOMIER, How to Understand Islam, 12.
[12] Cf. J. JOMIER, How to Understand Islam, 8.
[13] Cf. J. JOMIER, How to Understand Islam, 5 – 6.
[14] F. N. Mvumbi, Journey into Islam: An Attempt to Awaken Christians in Africa, 48.
[15] J. JOMIER, How to Understand Islam, 49-65.
[16] R. MAQSOOD, Islam, 22.
[17] G. E. DHARMARAJ – J. S. DHARMARAJ, Christianity and Islam, 90.

Sunday, October 29, 2017


4.1.2. Education as key to transform Kenyans from Negative ethnicity
The post-election violence in Kenya made the Kenyans to think deeply and critically by seriously examining the role of education in transforming society to a better-quality interrelationship of multi-ethnic community. For a long time, Kenya’s position as haven for peace in the region is under deep question more so the events of  post-election violence  badly dented the image and the pride that Kenya had  as a peaceful haven in the great lake region.

Kahiga in his take on reconciliation through justice and Peace builds up his take on education as an element of emancipation and empowerment, from grassroots to the top echelons indicate that quality relational transformation is the true goal for education, to completely eradicate the stereotype and ignorance of unknown fears of war. Our vision, philosophy, education has crumbled to ground zero and it has to start afresh again in an endless dialectical process of reaching at the illusive harmonious unity of our multi-ethnic nation[1]. This research has discovered that negative ethnicity is an attitude that becomes very sophisticated with educated.

 The more one is educated with little moral values attached in that education raises complex issues in relationship, for education without God produces clever devils. The best way to curb this menace is to have a complete overhaul in the rural education system to awaken the young generation to embrace variety of many cultural education of various ethnic groups and upholding educational heritage instilled in them, during their pedagogical integral processes. The tree is only strength if only it is young, beyond that it will break. The generation of our fathers lived in different upbringing but now there should be a great shift in the education system in the country.

B.F skinner insists that an environment plays a great role towards one’s behavioural attitudes, everything starts and ends with attitude[2].  This is true in that if education is not clearly emphasized in rural areas hence the politicians take advantage of the people’s ignorance and manipulate those with little education for their political gains. This can be clearly seen in the way Kibera slums turned into a mother of all battles between ethnic groups (militias) all defending their ethnic political kingpins. Kibera is a typical scenario where ignorance scored highly, and the consequences were dire in 2007/2008. People moved in mobs and mob justice was the order of the day, they torched houses, shops, uprooted railway lines and other unquantified properties that went up into ashes.

 The generation that is now raised in Kibera is a generation that has not known peace, reconciliation and justice. To talk about peace in Kibera slums is a new teaching that needs good pedagogy and  curriculum formulation  in the educational system  to curb the  negative attitude mushrooming among the poor families. We all come from diverse mindsets, thinking patterns do differ and cultural stereotypes that have been part of ideological brainwashing and cultural indoctrination. The allegory of the cave is a good illustration that we are dealing with as we confront the scenario in Kibera slums. The people in Kibera slums want good health facilities, security, good schools but the political web is so shocking that development and improvement of people’s life is lip service rather than actual development on the ground.

The people of Kibera and many surrounding slums around Nairobi city need a liberation, empowerment and building themselves a sense of self-awareness of their surroundings, inner self self-examination that builds itself into transformed settlement where there is a decent humane settlement than a den of inhumanity and cycle of poverty. This can only be achieved if the government of the day has to rethink about slum gradation and educational blue print. Kibera is state of human sin and it cannot be praised but people who live there to be helped to rediscover the sense of human dignity.

Education helps people towards true growth and freedom. This comes with true Christian authentic living, and having a community that does not only live isolated but as part and parcel of the bigger whole. This calls for breaking down of unnecessary barriers of economic status, educational elitists that discriminates those not blessed in life. This calls for healing, building of bridges, and building communities that are faith based and morally grounded, and strong in zeal to overcome poverty, disease and ignorance.

Educational empowerment is a great tool for the people who live in to be part of the global village more so with the highly needed labour force in the technological fronts of development.  The people in Kibera and Kenyans as a whole are to play a big role in helping to transform themselves into a world of peace and fellowship, making Christ present and active wherever they live and work. The value of  human person is towards making all things new with new paradigm shift in life and proper strategies in the passing signs of the times.

People who live in Kibera have a big desire for the future, but they feel locked into a den of poverty. The old ones feel wasted away due to the challenges, but they have a deep yearning for their children and the only hope they have or look forward to is that of educating their children to leave in a better environment in future. Kahiga stresses that education as a means of transformation kills that desire of negative ethnicity but if misused can turn man into a beast and destroyer of his own humanity.
The power of the mind to penetrate into the depth of the secrets of reality is awesome and intimidating. Once possessed, knowledge becomes such powerful tool which can be used to build, manipulate or destroy. Knowledge hence becomes a source of power to subdue, control, oppress, liberate or obliterate. Knowledge without a universal value system that determines its usage and context in qualitative transformation of society can be lethal.[3]

Palmer builds spirituality around education when he says that knowledge that leads to arrogance can penetrate in subduing the world and manipulating reality, it becomes self-destructive to human beings and the environment. For it takes short time to destroy, thereby reducing long term investments of human resources and development into ruins.[4]Palmer builds on a good foundation of education and knowledge that leads, not wounds the world, that kind of knowledge that is not manipulative. This knowledge builds itself on two primary sources of knowledge, curiosity and control. The first one corresponds to pure, speculative knowledge as an end in itself. The other corresponds to applied natural or social sciences where knowledge is used as means to practical ends.[5]Today we need people who can make use of their knowledge to control their environment and people around them in a more dignified and humane way. The curiosity to explore the self into holistic person having a sense of  personal vocational and care of the environment he or she lives in.

Though curiosity killed a monkey, but once it is left in the hands of the politicians who simply become tribal gods then it becomes a good recipe for disaster. Curiosity if not controlled can lead to disaster and untold consequences as witnessed in the post-election violence of 2007/2008. Any slight provocation due to curiosity can flame up the whole slum. Dewey looked at a human being in a process of relating with his environment, his daily struggles  to survive in existential context.[6] The mind can be very creative and adjust itself in  given environmental context, but that mind needs to be informed, and creative in thinking fast  with a big picture in mind. Once a problem crops up the mind should be able to be informed straight away to whether one is part of the problem or part of the solution.

Dewey states that thinking is an act of trying to achieve an adjustment from a confused state of affairs to a better situation in the context of qualitative life experiences.[7] In our Kenyan environment where many find themselves  in different diversities categorized in lines of tribe, clan, religion, political parties and coalitions, social status or class, hence raising  eyebrows of the poor to be curious of how that wealth is acquired and if not shared they steal it, or cause chaotic moves to destroy it so that the rich can also feel the pain they are undergoing.

There should be a mind set and great paradigm shift in the way of our thinking, a complete metanoia, which Rothenberg categorizes it as cultural mindset that is constructed towards dehumanizing the ‘other’ and becoming the basis of stereotyping that is abusive of the ‘other’.[8] 

We need to see each other as brothers and sisters without seeing our neighbour in terms of Jews and gentiles, Kikuyu, Luo, Kalenjin or Kamba but as  brothers and sisters though from different mothers. One may be tall, short, black, thin, plumb, all these are accidentals, what is important is that the blood I spill is the same red blood, what differs is the blood group, but we still share in the same dignity and likeness of God.

To reaching to this point of self-acceptance, awareness, responsibility is complete conversion that builds up into transformation from within the person. We need to appreciate our unity in diversity. Each personal contribution is important; for no one is too rich not to receive or no one is too poor not to give. Each person has a contribution to make towards building a peaceful, reconciled, and just community, Church and nation. For a long time, most of the cultures have been propagating this culture of big man syndrome, in that whatever the elders say is taken as the final hence no questioning, whether they are right or not the last word is that of the elders and this has ruined many Kenyan lives.

 Friere says that this kind of African world view is arrogated immense power of control can only the attributed to elders, ancestors and gods. The elders are perceived as ‘all knowing.’ What our leaders say is what is ‘true’; the masses are only to listen to them.[9]This has had a terrible political bad manner in most African countries, that the voters never read the manifesto, because many have a poor culture of reading and since they believe in their politicians, they know that whichever party their preferred candidate belongs is no big deal, they all fall to those empty promises, year in year out, worse in times of political campaigns.

Our leaders are highly idolized to the level of the mythical Greek gods that were mighty and powerful, they go through life as fighters of the oppressed and freedom fighters, second generation of liberators but turn into wolves in a sheepish  skin once they are in power and politicize everything to the existent that instead of developing their manifesto, they simply become obstacles and impediments to the same manifesto. This is where Kibera Slums finds itself cobwebbed in pangs of poverty, disease and ignorance.

Many politicians want to be crowned as tribal elders or gods with supreme divine powers, for manipulative intentions. This kind of authority is highly corrosive even if it leads to death of human beings. This becomes a sort of martyrdom of tribe and they are awarded with cultural medals of bravery post-humus and they remain perpetually in memory of the living as heroes. The deaths that occur during tribal clashes and election campaigns are horrible and scarring that it leaves many questions with few answers. The soldiers change uniforms with goons to terrorize civilians in the same slum, each matatu stage is managed by goons with immense power of a militia group, with crude weapons and illegal firearms.

The Machiavellian type of politics, the attainment of real political power by a variety of elders (gods), justifies the means of the many deaths and massive destruction of property in the post-election violence in Kenya.[10] This always occurs every five years and the cycle seem not stop but fueled, because election time is a moment of harvesting and activating the goons and militia groups. Friere says that there is need for a paradigm shift from the mindset of an educational theory that enslaves to that which liberates, thus the problem-solving theory of knowledge.[11]

The current situation in Kenya is a golden opportunity to conquer bad idiosyncratic habits through focused intelligence of engagement in purifying of thought and universalizing them. The new constitutional dispensation should give Kenyans a new clean bill of health both in the mindset and structural overhaul in the education system and good political will that most often lacks in our politicians because they lack political principles they stand on.

 Negative ethnicity has unfortunately infiltrated the very high learning institutions in Kenya. This is a very dangerous, terribly destructive in the minds of the young men and women being trained academically in various disciplines for universal service in the global village. As they say revolutions always start from universities. Public universities in Kenya are every year subjected to continuous strikes, leaving a question what type of education are they getting for the world markets.

Dewey insists that education is all about fostering, nurturing and cultivating process, which build and shapes individuals into responsible, critical, accountable and quality individuals in society.[12] Unfortunately most of the elite of the society forgot about the right thing to be done and compromise their human worthiness to financial gains and throw wisdom through the window, through making ends meet, and little time in research projects and personal academic improvement as professors.

Therefore, selfless love can be harsh and dreadful. Knowledge that springs from selfless love may require us to change our mindset, sacrifice our egos, social status, and go the extra mile, to accept to lose in order to recreate, renew, and make lasting bonds for the sake of what we know. We are all wounded in one way or the other, but we have to become wounded healers. The culture of impunity should be something of the past.

Our knowledge should help us build the broken bridges so that it's safer to walk on them together side by side. In other words, we all need to work hard in order to achieve justice, peaceful and reconciled communities as Kenyans who need to make use of our acquired knowledge not to destruct the self but building the self into a created image of God leaving our environment better than we found them.

[1] Kahiga, Joseph K, Education for Transformation: A Focus on the Post election Violence in Kenya, in AFER, Reconciliation through Justice and Peace, December, Vol.51-No.4 March 2010, Vol 52, No.1, AMECEA Gaba Publications, Eldoret, 484-492
[3] Ibid, 485
[4] Palmer, P.J, To Know As We are Known, Education As a Spiritual Journey, New York, Harper Collins, 1993, 2
[5] Ibid, 7
[6] Dewey, J, Democracy and Education, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, New York, The free Press, 1966, 11
[7] Ibid, 139
[8] Rothenburg, P.S, Beyond Borders, Thinking About Global Issues, New York, Worth Publishers, 2006, 252
[9] Freire, p, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, London, Penguin Books, 1993, 54
[10] Machiaveli, N, The Prince, New York, Penguin Books, 1976, 23
[11] Freire, 52
[12] Dewey, 10

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