Archive for ‘Religion’

March 6, 2014

Letter from Aliens to Earth

Alien SoundI was abducted by a ‘Aliens’ and taken to a higher ground in a floating spaceship and this is what they told me about earth’

“We come in peace to visit our dear lost cousins.  From our world which you refer to as Alien, we are told of our long lost cousins who disappeared into the space never to return. Our mission on earth is to discover how you are doing and how we can co-operate and sustain the entire universe. We are happy to note that after many years of wars amongst yourself, you have tried to make initiative to unite your countries through United Nations and regional trading blocs which is slowly forging a common understanding on human existence.

Our main mission is to alert you about the depleting ozone layer, greenhouse effects and its impact on your existence and future. We have noted with concern your appetite and greediness to harness natural resources. You extract more than you need and hence there is increased solid waste generated which you have no plans on how and where to dispose. You have ended up throwing more waste into the lakes, rivers, forests and oceans. What has been the impact of these actions? You are now witnessing unusual weather patterns in your planet. In our experience, nature has a way of cleaning itself and it does not forgive when it come to correcting wrong actions. Please our cousins, your own expert predicts that is nothing is done on time then one fourth of your species on earth will disappear by 2050.  We are happy, a few leaders like Al Gore from USA have tried to explain the impact and in 2007, you awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize in for his efforts in raising awareness on Climate Change. But are  acting to save your planet?

Experience from our culture shows that wars caused extinction and not development. We are aware during the First and Second World Wars some families lost a whole generation. You have invested so much in weaponry than in human development. In the year 2012/2013, according to your calendar, we noticed some increased human activity at a place you call China, which has increased its military budget allocation and we are equally concerned with high level of air pollution and we are disappointed. Wars and conflicts are almost in all corners of African countries from Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo to West Africa apart from the never ending conflict in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israel, while there is still no sight for a solution to the Afghanistan war. As your experienced cousins, we implore you to reconsider your investment priorities.

We advice that Earthlings should invest more in their own current and future development. Discovering Us (Aliens) will lead to disappointment which we are not sure whether you will be able to handle. This planet is blessed with enough resources for all. You don’t need to discover Us at the expense of human development.

When you launched Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the Alien Council decided that we shall come and visit you and celebrate the success together in 2015. We are disappointed despite advancement in technology the levels of disparities, diseases, extreme poverty and poor governance have continued with little progress worth showing. We have been made aware through our satellite imagery of earth some areas people asking for their human rights in Syria, Egypt and homosexuals are threatened with imprisonment and death threats. This is an unacceptable. A report from one of your own, Prof. Jeffery D. Sachs tells us that you are now moving towards Sustainable Development Goals. This is a good move since you are now focusing more on human development, investment and sustaining it. For now we shall postpone of our visit to earth until 2030 since there is nothing to celebrate. In Peace we Leave But We are Watching Your Every Move….” – Simon

November 28, 2012

Discrimination in Mosques

Mosque

Why do people go to worship places and does God discriminate against any human being based on colour, hair, complexion, height, weight, socio-economic status? Two friends have been subjected to discrimination inside a Mosque and by fellow Muslim brothers. Why?

The first incidence happened during the Friday prayers. He was behind three Muslim brothers and when my friend bends to remove his sandals, the fellow worshipers before him looked at him suspiciously. Reason? he does look like a person of Borana, Burji or Somali origin. Then all of a sudden they say he is a thief who has been stealing sandals at the Mosque. He is tied under a tree at Huruma Mosque along Outering Road until prayers are over. Later he is beaten and released but with injuries.

On the second incidence, a friend goes to Eastleigh and buys expensive sandals; Ksh. 2000/-. While walking in the neighbourhood of Kiamaiko he is confronted by fellow Muslim brothers that the sandals he is putting on were stolen a short while ago at one of the Mosque. Reason again? He does not belong to the ethnic group that is widely associated with Islam in the area but is a frequent visitor to one of the Mosque. He is also dragged and called unprintable names.  An argument ensues and the person claiming the sandals are his is asked by another Muslim brother ‘what was the size of your stolen sandals?’ The claimant says his sandals are no. 43. The sandals are checked and it turns out that the claimant is wrong. He apologises but the damage is already done.

Stealing of shoes and sandals at the Mosques is a common and has been used by some rogue unfaithful to discriminate based on ethnicity who is responsible for the vice at the mosque.

A new Mosque which has been constructed in the neighborhood of Kiamaiko along Valley Bridge is becoming difficult for people of other ethnic community to enter for prayers.

Currently it is common to find worshipper carrying their sandals in black paper bags while praying.

Discrimination in any house of worship based on ethnicity is an act of religious primitivity. Its is only decent human being who believes on promoting spiritual goodness and belief in Supreme Being cannot practice religious discrimination in the current age.- Simon

May 11, 2011

Slums: Upgrading People’s Livelihood

Main street in Mathare 4A

I like my sister very much. She is the only girl we have in the family amongst five boys. We had a heated debate about slum upgrading which people have already started saving for in Kosovo. She is part of leadership for savings scheme and also a structure owner. While the intention is good, my worries was about the real tenants, who pay rent but do not own any structure within the community. Are they going to benefit? I think no. Since all the land has been occupied within Kosovo and structure owners have taken over. She had a difficult time trying to convince me that the process is inclusive for the the structure owners and tenants; My question to her was, where will they get the extra land for tenants? Land is never exported or imported but rather it is the people who move to where there is land. She was not convincing despite her insistence that all will benefit.

After sometime, the topic changed to livelihood with the community. According to her and neighbour who joined in the discussion, the current economic activities in the slums should be catered for while designing any upgrading project. People withing the informal settlement are able to save on a daily basis because of their involvement in the informal trade. 

In Mathare, most people are either selling within or working as casual labourers in the nearby neighhoods of Eastleigh, Town and Industrial area. It is this kind of informal trade that enable people to aspire f0r higher activities. Some of the economic activities currently taking place might not fit into the newly upgraded houses. It is important for planners to also factor in livelihood. It is through informal livelihood that people are able to save, service loans, feed their families and provide education to their children.

At the end of our discussion we were all in agreement that Slum Upgrading is not all about upgrading houses but also upgrading people’s livelihood. – Simon

January 23, 2011

Religion in Mathare

Religion, the binding of people to a particular belief and consciousness: it is vital to every human being not only to believe in God as a creator and religion’s Mr. 15 percent man (prophets) but the belief in a higher power above us, to believe that human being were created for a particular reason and purpose. Religion in Mathare is something that is clearly evident. There are streams of churches which give spiritual fulfillment to the dwellers here.

All you need to set up a church in Mathare is a small twenty by twenty room, six benches, a bible and a little spiritual inspiration and Walla! Not forgetting the important offerings sack because it is what boosts the preacher’s morale, fills his stomach, puts his children to school and fills his cell phone with airtime. Preachers taking the offering would rather call it a `blessing’ which sounds fair enough because the money is not stolen, it’s willingly given out, giving a clear indication that Churches are businesses in this side of the tracks. Many would argue that the offering is what made the churches in Kenya not to endorse the newly promulgated constitution; the constitution states that churches in Kenya will be subjected to taxation of the tithe and offerings.

Mathare is predominantly Christian. I am not sure if Christianity was initially preferential or it was forced down to people by missionaries who made Christianity a basis of formal education. Mathare has churches spread out from Mlango Kubwa to Mabatini, Kosovo to Moradi [all villages in Mathare]. There is a wide range of churches in all denominations from African traditional churches like the Legio Maria, Roho Fuweny, Jopolo and Dini ya Musambwa, to the religions which were brought by the European missionaries such as Protestant, Catholic, Anglican and the Salvation army, all different but with one common agenda. On any given Sunday, the Faithfulls of mathare would colorfully dress to attend church. This is mostly popular with children, married couples, and older folks. Teenagers and young men seldom go to church, it’s not the `in thing’ I suppose.

Church

In mathare there is a new kid on the block. The world’s most fastest growing religion has not left Mathare slums out of the action. It’s the talk of the town and its one of its kind here in Mathare: I am talking about the newly opened masjid ul nur mosque in Mathare area 4B. The first day I heard the call to prayer from the new mosque, I, just like all Mathare residents was amused because Islam is very rare in this side of Nairobi. Islam is a religion in which the followers believe in the ideals taught by the prophet Muhammad and the teaching of the holy book The Quran. The 4B mosque was built by peasants who migrated from the North Eastern part of the country to their newfound home of Mathare in search of education, employment and a new life.

Due to strict Islamic teachings Islam could not thrive in Mathare in the earlier years because of sanitation conditions and social restrictions set in the Islamic code of conduct. In the 80’s and 90’s when there was an increase of people moving into the slum, this was not in line with the planning of the city, people were crammed in to an small area without toilets and sanitation centers. That’s where the infamous technique of the `flying toilet’ was discovered. As the name suggests, it is the act of doing your business in paper bag and taking your best swing. This, together with the fact that changa is brewed and sold here, this is at loggerheads with a conservative Islam religion. In the long run, this would leave the poor Muslims as non-practicing-muslims, and they may sometimes lose their religion. The fact that Islam is a new religion in the slum is something that should teach us tolerance and not religious violence. It is also such a shame that religion has not been used as a tool to maintain the peace in Mathare because is a powerful element in a person’s life.

– Jeff

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