Two students, in Maseno School, found having sex in a dormitory toilet, were senselessly beaten by fellow students before being handed over to the school authorities who promptly expelled them – for being gay. This is the most outrageously callous decision to ever come from the only National school along the Equator, in the world.
Let me tell you something.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – who is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, and also the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion group of parishes – is preparing what could be the first step towards a formal split in the Church of England over the thorny issue of homosexuality.
Representatives of more than a dozen congregations in the Home Counties are due to gather in a church hall in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, later this week, for the first session of what they say could eventually develop into an alternative Anglican church in England.
Those in the know will tell you that the Church of England have, for a considerable period of time now, been divided right down the middle over whether, or not, to recognise same-sex marriages. Conservative bishops within the church have vowed to create what they call a “shadow synod” vowing to uphold traditional teachings on family values. The Telegraph reports, that “differences over sexuality have already triggered a major rift in the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion and formal splits in the US and Canada after the ordination of openly gay bishops, which traditionalists say goes against the teaching of the Bible.” They claim the Church of England’s leadership is progressively watering down centuries-old teaching, not just over the issue of sexuality but many core beliefs including the authority of the Bible.
This is not anything new.
Those of you who study the history of evangelism in Africa will tell you that the Catholic Church, when they came to Kenya, outlawed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among it’s members, in totality. In fact, for those who read history well, one of the reasons Senior Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu mobilized the Kikuyu, of Kiambu District, then, to chase away christian missionaries teaching in the formal schools was because the missionaries were against ‘retrogressive’ Kikuyu cultural practices.
In Luo Nyanza, especially in my native Seme, the main reason we had only one Roman Catholic parish (at Bar Korwa), for a long time, was because of the contentious issue of polygamy. The Roman catholic church had a tough stance on polygamists to the extent that anyone from a polygamous family was never allowed to hold any position in the Mother Church. Nomiya Luo Sabato, my late grandfather’s church, still holds the lynchpin status in West Seme to the extent that the ACK church in Ngere, and the Roman Catholic Church in Reru, have refused to grow at the pace they were originally intended to.
It is after a lengthy deliberation, at the Vatican, and only when it became imminent that you can’t evangelise with threats, that the Roman catholic church watered down their position on polygamy that the Luo Nyanza faithful decided to start going to Aluor Catholic Mission, in Gem, and, later, the one at Bar Korwa. Senior Chief Koinange Wa Mbiyu, in Kiambu, actually told them to go to hell (when the church barred members practicing FGM from congregating with them). They realised the gravity of Senior Chief Koinange’s threats when the man donated his own land towards the construction of alternative schools for natives who were expelled from the mission schools – a decision that elevated him to a demi-god status among his people.
When the Catholic missionaries discovered they were harmorrghaing faithfuls to the traditionalists, they decided to lower their standards on membership, and take a bystander role on FGM. But even then, they had massively lost out to the other churches who either did not give conditions for membership, or took an ambivalent standpoint on the issue.
Paul Agali Otula is neither an Anglican Church vicar nor a trained theologist. The closest he can come to interpreting Biblical teachings is during the annual prayer day in 3rd term, which has now been culled after the Matiangi ban on school visits.
Maseno School is not any other tinpot institution of middle-level learning. We are the school. This world has two kinds of people: Those who went to Maseno School, and those who watch Maseno School on television. Those who went to Maseno School are trained to represent Maseno with pride, honour, and dignity. You don’t get admitted to Maseno by accident – you work hard, over the course of your junior life, to prove to the authorities that you are worthy of putting on the badge. The expulsion of the two young students have no hint of valour in it, the person who made the decision to send those two students home should return the Maseno School badge and pay for desecrating it.
I say this because during my glory days, and I believe it is still so, Maseno had a fully-fledged student guidance and counselling directorate which was, in all intents and purposes, established to offer a watchful eye, and a listening ear, to all the problems facing young boys who were being moulded into men. The main reason why Maseno School has never, and, perhaps, will never, experience a case of student unrest is because the school administration is always there to listen to the boys, and talk them out of a sticky situation.
Not that nobody has never thought of burning down Maseno School to drive a point home, but in the rare cases where those instances have arisen, the school administration have a legendary record of rising to the occasion, for times on end, and calm down the panache. In 2001, my last year of school, that record almost went up in flames – but a midnight meeting in the Dining Hall by all the teachers, with all the Form Fours, was the magic portion that was desperately needed to cull the rage and send us into maturity. I believe our class is not alone.
Homosexuality is a global crisis – the Church of England is grappling with it, and so is the Roman Catholic Church. I don’t know which school you went to, but I do know your school had these cases of young kids experimenting with sex. No secondary school, boarding or day, girls or boys, can stand here today and claim they have a record of zero cases of children having sex among themselves. If you don’t know, ask around and you’ll be told.
Adolescents experimenting with things they watch on tv, or over the internet, did not begin today. Sex, drugs, crime, alcohol – are just but a few examples of stuff that parents, and teachers, of every high school student in this country worry about every day of their lives. If every student who experimented with drugs were to be expelled from Maseno School today, then it would force Paul Otula to write to the Ministry for a special provision to borrow students from other schools to fill those slots up.
Just last month, I was talking to primary school teachers in informal settlements, in Nairobi, and they told me that on several occasions they have found guns in the bags of children as young as Class 3. Apparently, gangs around the neighbourhood use these innocent kids to transport guns from one area to another for a fee. Because these kids live in abject poverty, they take up the role of transporting these guns, earn the cash, and support their families with. No one would ever suspect a Class 3 child to be having a live pistol inside her bag. So they are used as conduits by slum gangs, and earn a penny in the process.
But these school administrators do not expel these children whenever they find the guns inside their bags. They take them in, listen to their stories, guide them, teach them, nurture them, change them. The history of slum education in this city has a litany of examples of former bad apples now reformed. You don’t fight a vice, among children, by condemning it at face value. What Paul Otula did, with those young boys, was rash, not-thought-through, and uncalled for.
We used to think, for a long time, that HIV/AIDS was a disease reserved for prostitutes, until prominent figures in society started dying like flies. That’s when we declared it a national disaster. Right now those who have AIDS are as normal as normal can be – no one looks at them from a bird’s eye-view.
The day your biological child will check in at home to tell you that they are gay, is the day you’ll all reconsider your uninformed stand on this homosexuality issue. Some parents in this country think they are so special as not to have a gay offspring.
“In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck – and, of course, courage.” – Bill Cosby