Are you a Christian? How do you know? Are you sure? What criteria do you use to tell if someone is a Christian or not? What are the “essential doctrines” or “fundamentals” that one must agree with and believe to be considered a true convert? And one more thing: Does the devil possess any of these “Christian traits”?
I went through my Bible for some examples of the things that the devil believes and does. I wonder if these traits are enough to render him a Christian:
Satan reads and has memorized his Bible. He drops verses like a pro when tempting Jesus. (Matthew 4)
Satan believes that there is one God. (James 2:19)
Satan can perform signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:9)
The demons (Satan’s minions) know and acknowledge that Jesus is the “Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24)
The same demons also acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. (Luke 4:41)
It appears Satan has access to the presence of God and converses with God (Job 1:6)
He knows that he can do nothing without God’s permission (Job 1:6-12)
Are these “facts” enough to render Satan a Christian? And if not, what are those things that would disqualifies him from being one?
My answer is that there is at least one thing that the devil neither seems to know, BELIEVE nor ACCEPT. There is also one thing that the devil never DOES, and the reason why he doesn’t DO the latter is because he doesn’t BELIEVE the former.
First, what the devil doesn’t BELIEVE:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]
Secondly, what the devil doesn’t DO:
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” [1 John 3:14]
In other words;
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [John 13:35]
The devil does not love God and he does not love his neighbor. His loveless actions are the evidence that he does not believe the Gospel. However, the devil does claim to love people and care for people and look out for the best interest of the people. The difference is that his love, care and concern is not expressed in ways that explicitly honor and give glory to God.
Now that we know a few things that set the devil (with all his knowledge, beliefs and works) apart from the true children of God, the more important question is this: What sets the devil apart from you? Do you believe the Gospel? And has this belief caused any change in your love for God and neighbor? Doe your love for others show others that you are acting out of gratitude for what God has does for you?
I implore you to examine your heart and prayerfully consider this.
We have all passed through that stage. We didn’t understand why our parents wouldn’t let us sleep over at a friend’s house, or why we had to brush our teeth, or eat our vegetables and make our beds. All our confused and pained “whys” were quickly silenced by mum’s firm “Because I said so”. Of course, now that we are older and we understand about neighborhood feuds, cavities, good diet and grooming, we can appreciate these formerly oppressive commands. Hindsight is always 20-20.
In retrospect, we can see that our parents had nothing but our good in mind. Even though we were too young to understand the “whys”, our parents were old enough, and that was enough for the time being. No, we did not enjoy the pain and darkness surrounding those commands. Deep down in our hearts, we were convinced that our parents were just plain mean, sometimes.
While a similar case can be made for why God gives us certain commands and instructions, the parallels do not always fit. Analogies are helpful, but analogies can only go so far. Even so, there is something to be said about some seemingly “pointless”, “oppressive” and “irrelevant” commands in the Bible.
I would like to zoom in on what I can only describe (for lack of a better description) as official commands in the Bible. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the adjective official as “of or relating to an office, position, or trust.” To say that someone is official is to say that he or she is to be recognized and treated in reference to the authority or office they claim to represent.
Whether that person has the intrinsic talents and abilities to carry out that official role is irrelevant to the fact that they already have that role. This is why Christians are commanded to submit to all earthly authorities (Romans 13), even those that are oppressive and definitely fail to qualify for that office. We are not commanded to submit only to good leaders or qualified leaders, only to people in leadership, their CVs and character notwithstanding.
At the risk of belabouring this point, consider two friends working in the same office. One friend is the supervisor or manager of the other. If one day the subordinate friend came to work late, the supervisor friend may have to deal with her in her “official capacity” and dish out the required discipline. This is fairly easy to understand in our various “official” interactions with friends and family in life. However, we are not so quick to recognize similar rules when it comes to the Bible and the different “Biblical offices.”
Consider this controversial passage:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. [1 Tim 2:12-14]
THE PASTOR’S OFFICE
I say that this verse is controversial beforehand because it speaks to an issue that is quite divisive and hotly contested in the church today — the issue of women as pastors and elders in the church.
Some of the arguments raised against having women as pastors include the claim that Paul was speaking to a specific cultural problem and context, and that the command is not universally applicable to today’s society. This is probably right, but there are passages in other parts of the Bible that make it difficult to use this line of argument as the conclusive proof that the issue of women in church leadership was only a cultural one. Even so,
I will not be dealing with that argument today. What I am concerned about is a different line of thought. A line of thought that may actually render the whole “this was a cultural issue” debate irrelevant to the bigger picture. As already revealed in the beginning of this post, I am here dealing with the argument of “equal worth” and “equal capacity/giftedness” in men and women. This is what is commonly referred to as egalitarianism.
Basically, the argument states that “since women are equally capable and equally gifted to teach and lead, then there is no reason why they should not be pastors.” Here is my contention. Are women able to teach? Yes. Are women able to lead? Yes, of course! Are women, more often than not, better teachers than men? Definitely! Are women arguably more intuitive and better able to multitask than men? Yes. So, should they be pastors and teach the church congregation on an official capacity based on their abilities? No. Why? Because God says so, or as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, because the LAW says so:
“The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” [1 Corinthians 14:34]
As a child, I was perfectly able to go over to my friend’s and spend the night. I was perfectly able to skip eating my veggies and brushing my teeth. But my parents knew better. They had reasons that my childish reasoning capacity could comprehend, let alone accept. So I obeyed them. Yet, this is also where my analogy fails.
As an adult, I am now able to perceive the direct evil consequences that could have resulted from disobeying my parents’ instructions. A visit to the dentist is one very effective way of driving home the message. However, it is still more difficult to think of any good reason why a woman being a pastor would lead negative consequences. This is probably because many of us are wired to be consequentialists: We only categorise some actions as bad when we can clearly see the negative consequences of doing them.
This is why the reasons Paul often gives for why women should not teach seem strange, offensive even, to many of us. However, if our understanding of sin and morality is guided by the Bible, then we should be able to acknowledge that sin is not bad primarily because it hurts people, sin is bad because it is against God’s order and commands. In other words, sin hurts people because it is bad (and even when we cannot see how it hurts people, it is still bad because God said so). This is why some actions like my parents not letting me sleep at a friend’s house on a school night is good, even though it hurts me at the time.
Pain is a poor determinant of right and wrong.
So, when Paul, in 1 Timothy, says a woman should not assume authority over a man because “Adam was formed first, then Eve“, we are tempted to find another special reason for this command. It just doesn’t sit well with us. It just doesn’t seem like a strong enough justification for forbidding women to lead a congregation since “we can see all of the benefits and none of the losses” if they did.
EGALITARIANISM AND THE TRINITY
In conclusion, let us briefly look at the offices that men are commanded to hold and how qualified they are to do it. Consider this verse:
“I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” [1 Corinthians 11:3]
Keeping in mind the case laid out above, is there anything in the man that makes him intrinsically more capable and more fit to be the head of the house or the head of the woman? No. Then why don’t we oppose this passage using the same argument of consequentialism? Perhaps this argument sounds less offensive because it appeals to the headship of God over Christ, and the headship of Christ over man.
Please, do not misunderstand me. I have sat under many a female “pastor” and gained truths about God that many male pastors could probably not have taught me better. I have listened to many sermons by women “pastors” that were solid and biblical and I gleaned treasures worth an eternal spot in my heart. Many of these women pastors are good friends of mine. Women indeed do make excellent teachers.
Yet, consider this: Can Christ do what God (the Father) can do? Yes. Does Christ know what God knows? Yes. Does Christ have all the attributes that God, the Father, has? Yes. So, should Christ play the role or serve in the office of the Father? No. Why? Because God says so. Because God has ordered (arranged) and ordered (commanded) it so!
May we learn to rest in God’s sovereign wisdom, even when we don’t get it.
Controversy seems to follow Gloria Muliro wherever she turns, like an unshakable stalker.
The latest has to do with her song, Follow You. The singer has been accused of stealing/plagiarizing/sampling (whichever term seems most appropriate), not only the words, but also the tune to the chorus/verse from Chris Tomlin’s song, I Will Follow You.
Now, people will throw out accusations all the time at celebrities. What matters is whether those accusations are true, reasonable, justifiable or simply unfounded. What makes Gloria Muliro’s case even more noteworthy is the fact that she responded, by denying all charges of stealing/sampling/plagiarizing the song [both consciously or sub-consciously].
She further added that the contentious lyrics were inspired by the Bible and any similarity with Chris Tomlin’s song is purely coincidental.
It is this denial that makes her case worth examining, especially if you’ve listened to the two songs. Here are the links to the two songs: Gloria Muliro and Chris Tomlin. Give them a listen before you proceed. The first 30 seconds should do it.
Now, a few details concerning the controversy:
FIRST, the words in the contentious verse in both songs are [almost] exactly the same. The only difference is that Chris Tomlin uses the word “when” instead of “where” in the second to last part of the verse [underlined]:
Muliro: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, where you move I’ll move I’ll move, I will follow you”
Tomlin: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, when you move I’ll move, I will follow you”
SECONDLY, Gloria Muliro was recently interviewed by Buzz concerning the controversial song. This was her explanation for the apparent similarity between the songs:
Buzz: Okay, make us understand why you are accused of stealing the song ‘Follow You’ by American singer Chris Tomlin word by word.
Muliro: Let me make it very clear. My music is inspired by the Bible. The words in ‘Follow Me’ are in the book of Ruth 1:16. Check and you will see. If today I preach the sermon from John 3:16, that will not prevent somebody else to preach the same verse in Russia. We are all guided and inspired by the same Bible.
THIRDLY, if you’ve listened to the choruses in both songs, the tune is more or less the same. But I will leave that one up for the reader’s/listener’s determination. It could be that all songs sound the same to me. I’m a lyrics guy, after all 🙂
Anyway, my focus in bringing this controversy to light is not to determine whether Gloria Muliro did sample Chris Tomlin’s song (though I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing). My major concern is in the way she responded to the accusations, considering her claim to be a Christian, and therefore expected to live (or at least speak) according to certain standards.
In the excerpt above, she told Buzz that the words in the song are in Ruth 1:16. This could be true. Ruth 1:16 says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” However, the verse does not have the “where you move, I’ll move” part. I could be splitting hairs here, but it seems Gloria Muliro’s song has more in common with Chris Tomlin’s song than with the Bible (her alleged sole inspiration).
I have tried to give her the benefit of doubt. I have even considered what a friend suggested on Facebook, that this could be a case of Cryptomnesia (This is when “a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke…” ) I was willing to grant that, but upon closer examination of the song, I realized that the similarities are too detailed to be merely incidental.
Some similarities in the internal message in both songs is striking. Yes, a person may sub-consciously sample a chorus and plagiarize a few lyrics, but is it possible for one to subconsciously translate those lyrics into Swahili? That seems a little bit hard to pull off.
In the first verse, Chris Tomlin says, “All your ways are good, All your ways are sure….” and in her first verse, Gloria Muliro says, “….Njia zako hakika (all your ways are good), Mambo yako sambamba (all your ways are sure)…” Maybe I am just cherry-picking lines to prove a point. So, let’s go all the way to the last verse and see what we can find there. In Chris Tomlin’s song, there are phrases such as, “…In you there’s joy, unending joy…” and in Gloria Muliro’s song, “…kuna upendo tele kwako (in you there’s unending joy), furaha kwako (in you there’s joy).” Is this still a coincidence inspired by the story of Ruth and Naomi? Maybe it is. Who knows? God works in mysterious ways.
But an even more important question is this, do you think those are sufficient reasons to make people think that Gloria stole/sampled Chris Tomlin’s song? I think they are. Gloria Muliro doesn’t seem to think so. When asked whether the accusations against her were unfounded, this was her disturbing response:
Buzz: So why would people think that you stole the song, in your opinion?
Muliro: People are just jealous of my success.
Dear Christian artistes, we are called to be above reproach. This does not necessarily mean that we will never fail or try to cover up our failures. It means that we should always be ready (and willing) to bring those failures to the cross. It doesn’t help anyone to keep holding onto our “righteousness” when it is clear before God and before men that there is reason and cause for repentance.
Christianity is not about never falling, it is about always rising up after the fall. Our faith is best displayed in our admission of our falleness (and in our proclamation of Christ’s sufficiency to forgive and raise us up again). No, the world will not be won by our outward cloaks of perfection and self-righteousness, it will be won by the display of our utter dependency, for therein lies the reality of the Gospel in our lives. We are all desperate beggars before God’s throne of grace.
It is my prayer that Gloria Muliro will come to the realization that Christian artistes are not saints misunderstood, but sinners forgiven.
It is not true that women in Kenya and the world earn less than men for doing the same job.
Once again, the International Women’s Day is here. That time of the year when we reflect on the women around us, their worth, their woes and, hopefully, their better future. So let us bring out our heavy-hitting annual research studies highlighting the plight of women in Kenya and the world.
Life is unfair to all
Life is, more often than not, unfair. We all believe that people should be treated justly and with dignity. A strong sense of justice is hard-wired in all of us. We crave for it and fight for it, whether or not we know the best way to attain it.
However, to what lengths are we willing to go just to push an agenda? One of the most popular claims around this International Women’s Day period is that the average woman still earns less than the average man for the same job.
Last year, for instance, the WEF boldly stated that a Kenyan woman makes Sh65 for every Sh100 made by a Kenyan man.
This is a fact, but it is an irrelevant fact, since it tells us nothing about the gender pay gap. If you examined how researchers arrived at these figures, you will notice the problem immediately.
The gender wage gap figures above are obtained by dividing the average earnings of all women working full time by the average earnings of all men working full-time. The study does not actually go into the details on “the type of work.”
It does not account for differences in type of job, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. The study may as well tell us that there is a gender pay gap between a woman working as a high school principal and a man working as an engineer. It is a fact, yes, but it is an irrelevant fact.
American feminist and scholar, Professor Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute has severally spoken out against this oft quoted but misleading fact.
In one of her many exposes on the topic, she explains this point better than I ever could:
“Wage gap activists say women with identical backgrounds and jobs as men still earn less. But they always fail to take into account critical variables. They have another fallback position: that women’s education and career choices are not truly free—they are driven by powerful sexist stereotypes.”
“In this view, women’s tendency to retreat from the workplace to raise children or to enter fields like early childhood education and psychology, rather than better paying professions like petroleum engineering, is evidence of continued social coercion.”
Even if a man and a woman were in the same type of job and position, there are still factors such as experience, education, number of hours worked per week etc that could cause a difference in wages. The variables that need to be controlled for to determine an accurate gender pay gap are simply too many. No such study has yet been conducted.
Gender pay gap (traditionally defined as the difference in median income between men and women for the same job type and position) does not exist simply because no scientific study has been done to prove it. We should therefore stop perpetuating this misinformation, even if it supports our cause for gender equality.
Beyond this, we should also question and crush common misconceptions that are often used to reinforce the idea that women are not being treated as equal to men.
In her 2017 International Women’s Day address, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka betrays a disturbing worldview that often pervades discussions about gender equality.
“We have to start change at home and in the earliest days of school, so that there are no places in a child’s environment where they learn that girls must be less, have less, and dream smaller than boys.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka’s assumption here seems to be that certain kinds of work are “less” than others; that staying at home to raise future CEOs is “less” than going out to become a CEO.
When the world is viewed through a strictly materialistic lens; where income is the determinant of human worth; where the social clout associated with one’s job type is the standard of one’s value; we end up sabotaging the very cause we think we are promoting.
In other words, our efforts to support women’s participation in economic life should not be promoted at the expense of efforts to encourage men’s participation in domestic life. It goes both ways, and so should our fights and debates about the issue.
Women are simply not getting paid less than men for the same type of work under the same conditions. It is true that social ills like patriachy and sexism will compel women to opt for less paying and less time consuming job, but this is not evidence for a gender pay gap, it is only evidence for a society that forces women to work in types of jobs that pay less while opening doors for men in higher paying jobs.
The difference seems subtle, but it gets obvious with closer scrutiny.
When we keep seeing the kinds of jobs and occupations traditionally undertaken by men as the standard for equality and the measure of human worth, we will keep seeing women as people in need of “raising and lifting up” instead of people in need of love and respect, like all human beings.
If you are in Kenya and want something to rant about online, our beloved matatus will never disappoint you. The industry is fresh fodder for daily frustration, both to those who use them and those who are privileged enough to drive themselves around.
The government seems to have given up on “enforcing” the various laws and regulations about loud music and overloading (on some routes). The mostly ceremonial Saccos are letting conductors have a field day with fare prices. What can the “ordinary” Kenyan do? Beyond lobbying the government and agencies to “do its job”, is there really much else we can do?
As a journalist, I wrote a fair share of stories about the woes of Kenyans on matatu-ridden streets and highways. A quick search on Google reveals that it is not for the lack of highlighting the plight of Kenyans who have to deal with matatus daily.
This post is a work in progress, a pathetic attempt (if you insist) at encouraging us to “do something” about the menace. If you claim to be a responsible citizen, or even just a responsible human being, you would agree that throwing up your hands is not an option. The following are some of the ways I am going to “do something” about it:
1. Silence is not an option
I will speak up and out against loud music, Orbit (PK?) seating and arbitrary pricing. I expect to be mostly be ignored, insulted or even asked to take the next bus. But may it never be said that it was for my lack of voice.
2. Contact relevant authorities
I will pen that letter, type that email and make that call to NTSA, NEMA, Matatu Owners Association and whoever else is supposed to be an authority on these matters. I will air my grievances and call them to account. I do not trust the traffic police, so I don’t see myself having much use for them. However, when I am in a good mood, I might occasionally also ask the police to shape up.
3. Sacrifice convenience for justice
As far as it depends on me, I will wait for that matatu that observes the law, the one with turned down music and with the same number of passengers as the number of seats. I will get up early, plan my daily schedule so that I won’t have to contribute to breaking the law out of “convenience”.
4. Look at the bigger picture
No one may notice me waiting for that rare quiet matatu. The conductors may never care nor feel any loss if I decide to step out rather than squeeze in. But this is not why I am choosing to be a better citizen. My goal is beyond changing the behavior of a single matatu conductor, bus driver or even Kenya’s transport industry. I am living for an entirely different Kingdom, a bigger and more lasting Kingdom than the nation of Kenya. Every step in the right direction is a step for rather than against that Kingdom.
My ultimate reward is not a comfortable ride or a shamed matatu conductor. I am not doing these things so that I can boast about the changes “I helped bring”. I don’t mind failing in the here and now. Ultimately, I am doing this for God’s kingdom, which includes this world, but is thankfully not limited to this world.
Would you care to join me? Come on board and let us go fight a losing battle; because the victory in the war (which is already guaranteed). You see, in God’s “economy”, what we need to tame a world that has gone rogue is to live lives that don’t follow suit. Do the little you know to do. Take the time to learn better and more effective ways to achieve the change you yearn for.
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
On behalf of all the bandits and cattle rustlers who can’t read and write, allow me to sincerely and humbly pass this letter of their cry to you, Mr. President.
First, receive our many greetings, your excellency. Pass our greetings to our beloved First Lady Margaret and tell her that her initiative of delivering medical equipment to Chemolingot District Hospital has saved the lives of hundreds of women, children, people with disability and other vulnerable groups. Thank you mama!
But my point in writing this letter today, Mr President, is not such a happy one. I feel that our leaders, your colleagues, might not have been entirely honest with you. So I took it upon myself to introduce to you these people who have been stereotyped in the news as cattle rustlers and bandits in Baringo County.
We are collectively knows as the Pokot in Baringo. We mainly live in Tiaty, an area of 4516.8 square kilometers. This is more than half the total area of Baringo County. At 150,000, we are few people. The Pokot culture is deeply rooted in pastoralism. Our attitude towards and perception of cattle can only be compared to that of the modern society towards gold or money. We believe,therefore, that all cattle in belong to us.
The Pokot community view livestock as the only solution to their problems. Wealth and personal status is measured in terms of how many livestock (cattle, camels, sheep and goats) and how many women one has.
The cow, also known as (Tany or Chemang’any) in Pokot is the highest valued animal on earth. This is because it is our lifeline. It is the only source of my food, my wife and my children. Pokot morans, therefore, believe that it is better to die than live without cattle since the land is already unproductive.
More so, the Moran considers it the greatest honor to die in pursuit of cattle! Simply put, I can’t do without cattle. It is a spiritual matter, a matter of life and death. This is the reason they will do all whatever it takes to get this precious gold; be it from the government armory or outside their own villages.
As a learned son of a reformed bandit, Mr. President, I am crying against the government negligence, polarization and politics over banditry and cattle rustling. But beyond this, allow me to propose a few effective ways to resolve the perennial problem of cattle rustling :
Massive infrastructural development in East Pokot. Access to water alone is enough to change everything among the Pokot people. We propose an Operation Leta Maji, supply water for our cattle, irrigate the land for cultivation. The Chinese, who have become our darlings of late, can design wonderful here. Water could be harnessed from Lake Baringo to change the lives of people for good. The lake is a sleeping lifesaving giant. Please use it.
Crack down on all illegal guns and install proper policing in the region. The KPR (Kenya Police Reservists) are never a good solution. The government needs to be close to the people. As it is currently nobody even knows where to report a rustler because there is no police station among the Pokot people.
Forceful education for all under 18 years boys and girls. The young ones are the future bandits and cattle rustlers. In fact, among the Morans, the sharpest shooters and savagest killers are the young lads. If you cared to pay attention, you will realise that cattle rustling is more common among the under 20s.
Kill the domination of one tribe in the leadership of Baringo County. There is big big big problem and bad feeling with Baringo county leadership because one tribe has dominated. Given the background challenges already mentioned, the Pokot people are less likely to get county elective seats. The playing field is not even, hence creating a vacuum of under-representation of other tribes. Power-sharing through a negotiated democracy would be best in such a system where we have many different tribes occupying the same county but only one dominating leadership.
All alternative forms of livelihood should be encouraged and incentivised by the government.
Animal insurance should be rolled out and promoted in the region to cushion animal farmers from the shock of losing their livestock.
The National Youth Service seem underutilized in the region. This is greatest asset we hve in our collective efforts to change our country. It has the capacity and machinery. The servicemen should be used to drill boreholes, make roads and even live with these communities as part of encouraging lifestyle change. We should borrow, not just a leaf but a whole tree, from Nigeria NYS System.
Thank you Mr. President, for sparing your few minutes to consider my letter and the proposals therein. Looking towards the future, East Pokot should serve as a pilot study in order to change situation among other Kenyan pastoral tribes. We should not just wait until similar people in other areas get to the end of their rope and get violent.
I know you have the power, Mr. President. If the country was able to build the Standard Gauge Railway, surely this is much simpler and cheaper project.
Thank you. I looking forward to meeting you one day.
EVANS KASMAI KIPTULON
Mr Kiptulon is a former Public Health Nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital and is currently a student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He hails from East Pokot, Baringo County.
A question that has probably lurked in the mind of anyone who has followed the unfolding story of bullying at Alliance High School is this: How could students who perform so well academically descend to such depths of brutality?
The name Alliance High School is synonymous with academic excellence in Kenyan secondary school education. It is the school that every hard-working Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidate dreams of attending.
Some of the most notable minds in Kenya’s public offices were honed in Alliance High School. From former Chief Justice Evan Gicheru, Senators Amos Wako and Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, to veteran newspaper editor Philip Ochieng, just to name a few, the school boasts of being the anvil upon which great minds were shaped.
This is why the recent bullying incident came to many outsiders of the school as a great shock. But the incident is neither new nor isolated to those who attended the school. It should not be news. The famed “monolisation” has been a rite of passage in Kenyan secondary schools for decades — and Alliance High School was no exception. So why the gasps from those outside looking in?
The incident has made headlines for two main reasons. First, social media and easily accessible camera phones ensured that the public got a sneak preview into what goes on inside our high schools. I bet this was not even the first time someone has bled from a bullying experience. But it was the first time images of the same made it out of the school compound.
The second reason the story made headlines is that Alliance High School has the reputation of being the tower of academic excellence in Kenya. For some strange reason, we tend to associate academic brilliance with civility. It seems obvious enough. We consider ourselves better than the caveman because we are “more educated” and civilized. But is this true?
There is no scientific evidence to support the common assumption that education will inoculate human beings against their baser savage selves. Education may make us more sophisticated in how we express that violent side of us, but it in no way guarantees world peace.
The term brainiac, which was first used in the Superman comics as the name of a supremely intelligent alien character, is derived from a blend of brain and maniac. Even the most educated of us are not immune from brainiac tendencies. In fact, they may be the most savage since they are more able to justify their behaviour and reason or argue themselves out of any wrongdoing.
Bullies are us
But we should not be surprised that students students in Alliance High School are bullies any more than we should be surprised that some students in the same school have a flu. Bullying happens when young people direct towards their peers frustrations, hurt, anger and difficulties at home or in class.
Bullying happens when young people lack attention from friends, parents or teachers. They will bully just to get a high, feel popular and be seen as ‘tough’ or ‘cool’ and in charge. Bullying happens when bad upbringing at home makes young people insensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions. They are happy to see their classmate depressed, sad and hurt.
The news about bullying in Alliance High School is a few decades too late. It should not be news. But the story of educated people behaving badly is as old as the age of humanity. It should not surprise us at all.