Pastor accused of making controversial “summons”


SOMETHING is not well with the literature scene in Tanzania. Unlike is the case in neighbouring Kenya, there is very little locally authored literature being produced in Tanzania.

While in Kenya you have many people writing autobiographies, biographies, novels, poetry, plays and what have you, that is hardly the case in Tanzania.

Reading the Saturday Nation of 17th June (p. 33) for example, I found an article titled: ‘Academics honour Prof Okoth Ogendo”.

The opening sentence reads as follows: “Very many books have been written about land law in Kenya, but the latest, focusing on ‘the Guru of land and property law’, Prof H.W.O. Okoth Ogendo is in a class of its own”.

Prof Okoth Ogendo died on 24th April 2009. May his soul rest in peace. The book is titled; “The Gallant Academic” and is a 369-page collection of essays by the whois-who in academia, especially at the University of Nairobi’s Law School about the don.

As I read the review of the Book I wondered: Where are our “Gallant Academics”? Where are our who-iswho in academia to write about these “Gallant Academics”, for, I believe we do have them in our midst.

Trouble is, they are all quiet. In Kenya, many prominent personalities have put pen to paper to write their autobiographies, offering society valuable insight into their life. Why is that not the case in Tanzania? Perhaps some academic should carry out research and tell us why Tanzanians, big or small, are not writing.

Talk of autobiographies, the Saturday Nation of July 1 (p. 23) carried an article titled: ‘Njoya takes hard look at Kenya and those involved in making the nation”. This is a review of the autobiography of Rev Dr Timothy Njoya.

The article writer tells us, at the outset, what the article is all about: “Outspoken cleric gives a scathing assessment of the state of liberation struggle in Kenya in a new no-holds barred biography, ‘We the People’”.

The Pastor is quoted, as saying, among other things, that: “The Kenyan system of education, as much as colonialism and slavery, was to blame for producing swimmers with the current”.” The book lays bare the tribulations of being non-conformist.

Dr Njoya was suspended as the pastor of a church near the University of Nairobi for controversial ‘summons’ that angered the (then) President and his administration, who arm-twisted the Bishop and other Church leaders to punish him (Rev Njoya, that is)”.

Would this man of the cloth, eccentric as he might be, make or issue controversial “summons”? Highly unlikely. For “summons” means an official order to appear in a court of law usually issued by a judge.

Summons could be served by the police. Given that we are talking about a cleric, it is more likely than not, that the controversial what-so-ever he made, were “sermons”. For, various authorities define a sermon as a talk given as part of a Church service usually on a religious or moral subject.

It is possible that Rev Njoya gave sermons that touched a raw nerve of some important politicians in his country, thus the various moves to punish him. Dr Njoya cites one of his most fulfilling achievements as the enactment of the 2010 Constitution which, “interalia, ‘defrocked’ the Presidency of the wide-ranging powers inherited from the Colonial Government …..”.

I am unhappy with the use of this word: “defrock”, which means: “to officially remove a priest from his or her job as punishment for doing something wrong”. It comes from “frock” an old word for dress.

According to one authority “although it is still common to re fer to defrocked priests, the word does not have a generally-used meaning outside of the clergy. For example you do not refer to a “defrocked teacher” or a “defrocked coach” or a “defrocked Chairman of TFF.”

I therefore hesitate to accept the observation that the 2010 Constitution “defrocked” the Presidency of powers. I would have instead, gone for the word: “stripped”, that is, the 2010 Constitution stripped the Presidency of the wide-ranging powers inherited from the Colonial government.

May be it is fortunate that Dr Rev Njoya was not defrocked.

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