An Open Letter from Cattle Rustlers to President Kenyatta

BY EVANS KASMAI KIPTULON

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Dear Mr.President,

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 :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. All alternative forms of livelihood should be encouraged and incentivised by the government.
  6. Animal insurance should be rolled out and promoted in the region to cushion animal farmers from the shock of losing their livestock.
  7. 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.

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Educated Savages: Why Enlightened Kenyans Resort to Primitive Acts

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?
Senior counsel John Khaminwa (left) tries to calm a charged lawyer, Edwin Sifuna, after chaos erupted during the Law Society of Kenya's Annual General Meeting on March 21, 2015 at Hilton Hotel as the society's president Eric Mutua (far back) looks on . PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Senior counsel John Khaminwa (left) tries to calm a charged lawyer, Edwin Sifuna, after chaos erupted during Law SOciety of Kenya’s Annual General Meeting on March 21, 2015. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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?

Brainiacs

If our members of parliament are anything to go by, we should be very wary of correlating academic achievement with civility. We have all seen the numerous episodes that have occasioned the favorite newspaper headline “Drama as MPs….” And if that example seems like an outlier, we all remember what happened at a Law Society of Kenya meeting when some members demanded a building project.

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.

Why Voter Apathy is Not an Option

All you need to do is switch on your TV set at prime time and you will be discouraged about the state of our country, our poor beloved Kenya.

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Corruption is out of control. Impunity seems the order of the day as those in power evade justice over and over and over again. The opposition is merely the mirror image of the government as the “it’s our turn to eat” narrative drives political ambition. Negative tribalism is disguised in talk of “strongholds” and “negotiated democracy” while many Kenyans begin to wonder if their vote – and their voice – matters in this whole charade.

It is easy to get discouraged as a citizen of Kenya. In fact, given the events taking place, it is the most reasonable thing to do. It was easy to be patriotic during the days of terrorist attacks. Back then, the enemy was tangible and discernible, and foreign. Both the opposition and the government had a common enemy. But now, now everything is all muddled up. The enemy is amongst  us, and often within us, and this has messed up with our collective sense of nationality. We don’t know who to trust anymore.

Outrage Fatigue?

Doctors have been on strike for almost three months ago and few people even seem to know what the issue is, let alone how to resolve it. News barely makes sense anymore. One day you are siding with the doctors, the next day the spin doctors have changed your mind and you are now siding with the government. Wait, does it even make sense to take sides if we are all “one country”?

There is such a thing as compassion fatigue (outrage fatigue?) and many of us are at breaking point. We are being pushed to breaking (no-caring) point. We just want to retreat to our little corner and focus on our job, family and friends and let the rest of the nation take care of itself. Life is too short to care about everything and everyone. Let us all eat and drink and (hopefully) be merry, for tomorrow we die. There are people who “run” this country and they will do whatever they want. We have no “real” control over their decisions and actions, so why even bother?

This is where many of us are, and where many more are heading. We are folding into ourselves. Ranting on social media has lost its appeal. Hashtags never go far enough and tweets never go deep enough. We are not seeing results. Those in power seem to have all the cards. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

We Are Citizens, Not Merely Voters

I am a communication specialist, and I have previously worked as a journalist for four years. I have noticed that the efforts that make the biggest splash in the political scene are usually not very complex or calculated. Stories are perennially powerful, and often all it takes is a good story being picked up by the right person to make a difference.

This is what I mean; more often than not, it is not the statistics about a particular issue that move people to action, it is how you leverage these statistics to evoke emotions. This means that one story about a person’s rape ordeal could be more powerful than displaying staggering numbers of rape cases on a PowerPoint slide.

Just look at what happened in India. Rape is not a new plague in the country. It has been rampant there for decades. But it took a few stories showcasing the lives of those affected to start strong movements and cause radical changes in the law. In a previous post, I wrote about how there are more ways to be a responsible citizen than merely taking part in a vote. I focused largely on what we can do in our “circle of concern”. In this post, my focus is more “political”. My aim is to, hopefully, wake us up to the political options we have as citizen to contribute to positive change in your country.

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These may not make sense at first glance, and you may even doubt how effective they are. But sometimes you need to be part of something to see and appreciate its power. Having worked as a journalist, I had the advantage of seeing the areas where citizen participation made the biggest waves in government and society. More often than not, all it took was answering “yes” to the following questions.

Have you ever:

  • Signed a petition?
  • Contacted your MP, MCA or area representative?
  • Gone on a protest or demonstration?
  • Contacted a government department?
  • Spoken to an influential person about an issue you feel strongly about?
  • Raised an issue in an organisation you belong to?
  • Contacted radio, TV or newspaper?
  • Formed a group of like-minded people?

When we begin to see our role and scope of responsibility as much larger than the mere casting of a vote, then we will realize that we wield power to cause real political change in our society. Voter apathy happens when we limit the horizon of our political participation to casting  the vote once every five years. When we see our politics and our politicians through the lens of the ballot, we are only displaying our ignorance.

You have the power to do more. Join a political party. Join a political cause. Get out of the house. Talk to your neighbor. Unplug your earphones and engage that person sitting next to you in the bus (yes, I know it’s awkward and you are an introvert). Make use of that suggestion box. Send a letter to that politician. Write to the editor of that national newspaper (very few people actually do this, you’d be surprised). Get up, get out and tell your story.

The reason we get voter fatigue is because we have too narrow a view of ourselves. We are much more than voters in Kenya. We are citizens of Kenya.

How To Legally Access Movies in Kenya

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(c) tollywoodandhra.in

The ease with which one can access movies and music on the internet has made online piracy one of the hardest plagues for media owners and users to fight.

For many of us Kenyans, we have that “movie guy” who always hooks you up with the latest movies and episodes of your favorite shows (for just Sh50 per DVD!) You’ve probably never thought of this as piracy, especially since you are paying for the movie. But the reality is that these distributors illegally download the movies and shows and then write them onto DVDs for your entertainment.

Some of us are more internet savvy and we have installed torrent clients (e.g. bittorrent, utorrent) onto our computers and we download those pirated movies in the comfort of our homes. There are also numerous streaming services that give you access to thousands of movies and tv shows for free streaming (if you can get through the numerous pop-up ads).

The same goes for music. It is now possible to get a download of an American album within hours of its release without paying a dime for it. I admit that the jury is still out on some of the legal ramifications of downloading pirated copies of movies made in countries whose copyright laws don’t apply to us. In other words, Kenya is not part of the jurisdiction of many American copyright laws, which makes the issue of whether or not it is legal to download and watch pirated movies a tricky one.

But behind every law is a spirit an ethic, and a value system which the author of that law sought to satisfy. By making it illegal to download the film or show for free in the United States, the creator of that commodity intended that anyone anywhere who accesses it should pay for it (even if they can’t get prosecuted for breaking that code).

There is also the matter of artists who go broke and yet their music is making waves across the globe. However, this is not the post for that discussion. My aim here is more practical.

In the paragraphs that follow, I only seek to answer the question: “I feel it is wrong to download and watch pirated movies and TV shows, but it would be easier to avoid doing wrong if I had legal options for downloading and watching.” Here is my lame attempt at reducing the temptation and, hopefully, fighting piracy in Kenya.

HOW TO WATCH WESTERN MOVIES AND SERIES

The following are the only two service providers I know of that provide access to western movies and TV shows legally, but, of course, for a fee.

1. Netflix

The American online streaming service has been active in Kenya for slightly over a year. Kenyans can now access award-winning movies and TV shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, the entire Star Trek series, and hundreds others. For as low as USD7.99 every month, one can stream all these shows with a clean conscience. In November 2016, Netflix added the option to download movies and series episodes onto your phone or tablet for watching while offline. This is a great option for those who probably access affordable internet at the office and coffee shops and don’t have the same access at home. You can just download the episodes you want to watch then catch up on them at the comfort of your home.

  • PS: For new subscribers, Netflix allows you to access the full collection for free for the first 30 days.
  • PPS: My research also revealed that in Kenya, we only access about 400 of the more than 4000 shows available on Netflix. This also means that while Americans can access all the seasons of all the shows, Kenyans can only access some seasons and have top wait longer for the rest of the seasons. Copyright issues.

2. Showmax

This South African movie and series streaming service launched in Kenya just a few months after Netflix. While the collection is leaner than that offered by the American giant, sometimes Showmax gives Kenyans access to shows that are not locally available via Netflix. For instance, I found shows like Mad Men and Downton Abbey on Showmax and yet I could not access them on Netflix. So it may be good to subscribe to both services if you can afford it. Being an African product, Showmax also offers Nollywood films for Naija lovers. There is also a collection of some favorite Kenyan shows like Real House helps of Kawangware and the likes. For as low as Sh880 a month, you can access Showmax premium services, while Showmax Select is available for Sh330. Showmax also has a download option for mobile devices.

PS: For new subscribers, Showmax allows you to access the full collection for free for the first 14 days.

3. Amazon Prime Video

This service is barely two months old in Kenya and it promises to give Netflix quite a competition. It is currently available at the lowest subscription fee of USD2.99. But this will only be for the first six months, after which the subscription will return to USD5.99 (which is still a good bargain considering the collection that Amazon Prime Video has). Amazon Prime Video also has the advantage of exclusive content produced by Amazon and also features a lot of latest movies and series episodes, unlike Showmax.

PS: There is a seven-day free trial period for new subscribers, so you may give it a try

HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC

Currently, I know of only two music services that give you access to international music for free (with adverts in between songs) or for a monthly fee. These are Apple Music and Deezer (for android users). Of course some people can access music services such as Spotify, Google Music and Amazon Prime with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but the issue of VPNs is another pandora’s box in the piracy discussion. For now, Deezer and Apple Music are the best options (for a monthly subscription fee of USD4.99)

HOW TO PAY FOR THE SERVICES

At the moment, the only payment options available for Netflix, Deezer and Apple Music are Visa card, Mastercard and Paypal. If you are too paranoid to use your Visa ATM online, you can obtain a Nakumatt Global Payment card and load money onto it via MPESA then use that to make the payments. That way, you can enjoy the movies and series without worrying about someone hacking into your bank account.

Showmax already anticipated this problem and now has an option for paying via MPESA Paybill. Just go to the Showmax page and they will take it from there.

I hope these options will be of great help in your efforts to fight online piracy.

Dear Kenyan, Your Vote is Not The Answer

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Fellow Kenyans, I know we are all rushing at the last minute to register to vote. Some of us have been too busy at work to find time to visit a registration station, and that’s understandable. Some of us have just not prioritised the process. That’s also understandable… sometimes. Kudos to those who have registered, those who have checked and double-checked their registration.

Kenya could use more people like you.

I know you believe that you are a model citizen and on that August morning you will queue for hours and proudly exercise your democratic right (duty?). Some of you are even planning to share your ink-stained fingers on Instagram and Facbook to confirm your participation. Good for you. But may I ask that you consider this truth for a moment? Your vote is not the solution.

You see, voting is the most visible part of the democratic process, but I am convinced that it is not the most important. Some of us treat voting as if it is the only responsibility the citizen has. We vote and have over the reins to the elctorate and then sit back and waiut for magic to happen. Allow me to burst your bubble. Voting is not THE solution.

However, voting is a solution. Voting counts, so please go out there and let your vote be counted. However, many of us act as if the right to vote is equivalent to democracy. Being a citizen in a democracy is much wider and involves much more than spending  a few hours every year to mark an X on a piece of paper and shoving it through a slit on a plastic vote.

I’m sorry to say this but, whoever you vote into power does not hold the silver bullet to all your country’s problems.

The reality is more complex. Real change is incremental, it takes time. Real change is communal, it takes all of us. Not just all of us registering to vote or showing up to vote, but all of us embodying that democracy every hour and every day of our residence in this nation. For democracy to work, all citizens must keep doing what we can in our circles of influence to be the change and advocate for change.

Where do you work? What do you care about? Are you an engineer? Then pay attention to the policies on construction and infrastructural development. Offer your expert opinions on those buildings that come crashing down on widowed mothers and their poor children. Resist that bribe and give up that questionable contract. Then go ahead and push your boss to push her bosses to push the policy makers.

Use your rare expertise and experience to highlight cases of bad policy and bad (or lack of) implementation in your circle of concern. The same applies to doctors and lawyers and journalists and social workers and musicians. Work for more than just a living. Work for a better work environment and a better economy.

Spend the four years between elections actually helping your politician’s manifesto come true, even when that politician abandons it. Your power is not restricted to the vote. Your power is only symbolised by the vote. But the real work happens as life happens. The real work happens in advocacy and water-dispenser conversations and boardroom meetings. Bad politics does not just thrive because of bad politicians, bad politics is watered and nurtured by a bad polity.

We all count for more than just being counted every five years. So get out ther and register to vote and then make the time to vote come August. And after that, go back home and be the change that you voted for. This is the only way we will get the Kenya we want.

A Letter to Kenyan Pastors

What will you do when the politicians come knocking this Sunday?

Dear Pastor,

He will be visiting your church this Sunday, but he won’t be a stranger. You have seen him on television and read about him in the newspaper countless times. You have never met him, but you probably know him better than some of your congregation. He is your local political leader.

Perhaps he is the area member of parliament. Or maybe you are lucky enough to get a visit from the area senator or governor. The President? Whoever he is, Sunday service will be different today. Attendance will be in record numbers and your parking lot will host some of the most expensive vehicles to ever tread on that gravel.

There is going to be great pressure to modify your order of Sunday service because this politician is around. Perhaps the singing will be shorter, the sermon will be hurried. In the heat of the moment, it will make sense to include a slot in the service for the politician to greet and address the congregants.

It seems harmless enough. It is perfectly understandable to make an exception. Special circumstances sometimes call for special actions. But dear pastor, could I urge and remind you not to forget what the Bible says about some of those moments? The following considerations may help guide you.

1. Watch where the politicians sits

The Bible, that book that defines who you are and why your church exists in the first place, says something about where the rich and the influential members of society choose to sit in the congregation. I hope you will not forget to take the words of Jesus to Pharisees into account when that politician visits:

“Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
LUKE 11:43‭-‬44 ESV

As far as Israel was concerned, the Pharisees were like a rough combination of the legislature and judiciary today. They are the ones who were supposed to understand, interpret and implement the laws set out by God. They even enacted some of the ways the laws of God applied to specific situations. Jesus noticed how self-important they were; how they carried themselves in the marketplace and the places of worship.

How will the politician visiting your church behave? Will they seat in the best seats? Are you, in fact, the one arranging for this? Why are you doing something that the Jesus you claim to be the Bride of clearly frowns upon? Or is it actually not about Jesus?

2. Watch how the politician will give

I am sure the highlight of Sunday service will most likely be the offering. Come on, with such record attendance, and with people overflowing that some are even standing outside the building just to catch a glimpse of their leader, the offering baskets will be bulging today. It is inevitable.

Buy I am not concerned about that. My concern is something else Jesus said about the same Pharisees that are the parallel to today’s politicians:

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
MATTHEW 6:2‭-‬4 ESV

Is this what the politicians visiting your church will do when it is time to give? Or maybe I am being too critical. The truth is these politicians are human, like you and I. They are also sinners. It would be unfair of me to expect them to stick to a higher biblical standard than other people. What if they want to announce their giving to your church? Who am I to judge?

But my concern is with you, dear pastor. You know better. Will you give these politicians a platform to do what Jesus clearly frowns upon? Will you change up your service to allow the politicians announce his donation for your upcoming church project? Will you give your your pulpit for the man or woman to say a word about what he has done for the community? Would you rather please man than God?

3. The sheep are watching the shepherd

In the end, this is more than just a matter of personal preference and opinion, dear pastor. You have a responsibility towards us, your sheep. And you will one day have to give an answer to God. As the Bible clearly puts it:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
HEBREWS 13:17 ESV

Clearly, God wants us, the sheep, to obey you and submit to you. When you allow God’s word to be disregarded and God’s name to be blasphemed by endorsing some of these actions in the church, we find it difficult to obey God. It is hard for the sheep to take their creator seriously when the shepherd doesn’t seem to be doing it.

Dear pastor, please consider God this Sunday and the coming Sundays as you navigate the rising political temperatures in the country. The pressure to fear man rather than God will be high. Your reputation before the world will be at stake. Would you rather please men than God? I hope you will do the latter.

If you care about us, the followers of the Jesus you preach, you would consider these things. It will be difficult. Money is powerful, and the love of it can be tragic. You cannot resist public opinion on your own. I understand that, and for this reason, I will be praying for you.

I hope you do the right thing. I hope you will fear God enough to keep His commandments.

My Father

Have you ever thought about the meaning of the word Father?

You’ve probably never needed to, because it seems so obvious… so self-evident. I used to think so too, until recently.

I was going through a “dark-night-of-the-soul” period where I found it difficult to pray. For some reason, it just stopped making sense speaking to a God that was invisible and immaterial. Whenever I closed my eye to pray, I was overwhelmed by the whole absurdity of the act. It just felt like talking into the air, into nothingness.

That’s when someone suggested a rather cliche solution: that I read the Bible and look at the way the people in there addressed God. Most specifically, how Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to address God.

Jesus called God His Father.

“Our father who is in heaven,” he taught us to pray. It sounded straightforward enough, except my main challenge was in conceptualizing God as a Father.

Many Christian counselors suggest that people who have difficulties thinking of God as a Father usually had a bad experience with their earthly fathers. They don’t know what is so good about having a father, and so they struggle to embrace a God who approaches them as one.

But the situation seemed different for me. This wasn’t about my earthly father. Growing up, my relationship with dad was more or less “normal.” My problem was a more philosophical one: How can I address God as “father” with a straight face when I know that God is Spirit and not human. Isn’t the word “Father” just an anthropomorphism of a being that is beyond our comprehension?

Well, I was in for a great (and pleasant) surprise.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word father as: “a male parent” or “a man who is thought of as being like a father.” Another alternative definition is: “one related to another in a way suggesting that of father to child.”

Beyond these surface definitions, Mr Charles and George Merriam and Mr Noah Webster don’t tell us much about what is actually involved in “being a father”, or what qualifies a man to be one.

Stay with me now. When you consider every aspect of what it means to be a father, you will quickly realize tat no single human being perfectly fits the description.

Does biology make one a father?

It is obvious that many who have contributed the Y chromosome to the existence of a child cannot quite be called the fathers of the child. This is especially if they have not contributed in any way to the raising of the child. These men fail to fit the “father” description because something, a relationship, is missing.

Does nurture make one a father?

In fact, there are many children being raised by men who are not related to them biologically, men who are married to their mothers, men that they call fathers. Even so, many who have been raised by men who were not their biological parents often say of these men, “he is like a father to me” as if he is not quite a father. Something is missing in the picture.

Does the law make one a father?

Or is it the law? Does legal adoption qualify one to be defined as a true father? And if so, why do we still feel the need to qualify the father title with an adjective such as “my adoptive father”. Somehow, we instinctively know that they are not quite the true definition of father.

Is it all three?

But even in the now increasingly rare case where one is raised up by the father who shares the same genes, these fathers still fall short. You may be biologically related to your father, he may be the one that raised you and his name may even be in your legal birth certificate, but he still falls short.

Earthly fathers don’t always love their children and when they do it is never a perfect love. Earthly fathers don’t always provide and when they do it may not be the best kind of provision. Even when they try their best, their humanity is a guarantee that they will never be the 100% father.

The fact that they are fallen human beings means that they will inevitably not measure up at being fathers.

The True Father

So who is the true father? Who fits the bill? Who meets all the criteria? Who is the one we can look at for any idea of what it means to be a perfect father? In other words, where do we get the idea that there is something like a 100 per cent father and yet no single human being has ever fit the mold? How do we know that the kind of fathers we have here on earth are less than ideal?

I found the answer when I went back to the Bible with my struggle. In the Words of scripture, I encountered a Father who fit the description, who met the criteria, and never disappointed. In the God of the Bible, I found not just the true definition of a perfect Father, I found the embodiment of that Father.

In my confusion, I thought it more realistic to address a human father than to address an invisible spiritual father. Yet the reality is that the human father was a false reality. No human being deserves to be called father. Not the man who contributed to your genes, and not even the man who raised you up. Only God fits the bill.

In fact, our earthly fathers are poor imitations of the true Father. Even the best of human fathers are mere glimpses of the perfection that is in our glorious heavenly Father. In other words, there is no truer and realer illustration of a human being talking to his father than that of a man praying to his God.

I am no longer struggling to pray. In fact, it is becoming more absurd to take my troubles to human beings instead of to God. I have learnt that prayer is the realest and truest form of communication I could ever take part in. Because in prayer, I am speaking to the only one who not only hears my words, but perfectly understands my words and perfectly responds to those words.

Through prayer, I can, for the first time in my life, talk to my real Father.