The most recent news out of the saga of the Kenya cases at the ICC is that Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang have filed a no case to answer motion., The move came in the wake after the prosecution finished presenting its case against them on charges of crimes against humanity in connection with the post-election violence that swept Kenya in 2007-2008.
But what intrigued me is that even this legal manoeuvre has been padded out with prayers. It has been difficult to get any news out of Kenya and the ICC in recent days without having prayers attached to it. According to The Daily Nation, Sang himself has been bending the knee.
But these prayers haven’t been the only ones. There have been prayer rallies everywhere. At first, I agreed with this sentiment: prayers are not news.
But the people taking part in the rallies have become very vocal in their support of Ruto and Sang.
Apparently, this constant appeal to the heavens has got the judges in the case rather annoyed. Some people were praying for the conviction of the accused, while others wanted an acquittal, said Judge Eboe-Osuji.
An “unending stream of clamour”, he complained, and “astonishing behaviour to observe in the context of an active criminal trial, but we are not impressed, not in the least”.
The Hague may not be impressed. But it’s a brave person who gets between a Kenyan and his/her right to pray. You can find twitter feeds called Prayers for Kenya, and the hashtag Kenyaprays has been used often.
And Kenya’s president decided to make it clear that praying is a Kenyan human right.
In his speech on the national holiday, Mashujaa Day, Uhuru Kenyatta delivered a speech on his government’s achievements, with a twist.
“The judge cannot tell us when to pray. We believe in God, and we have the freedom to pray. So we will continue praying because we know the power of prayer. We have the freedom of worship in this country, hence nobody can discourage us from holding prayer meetings.”
Are these prayer meetings as innocent as the president suggests? Not according to one of Kenya’s veteran opposition activists, Koigi wa Wamere.
“War-like political rallies that leaders are convening all over the country, disguised as religious meetings to pray for the freedom of Deputy President William Ruto that seem instigated and orchestrated from the top, poison the political atmosphere in the country and remind one of the political rallies just before elections that triggered the post-election violence in 2007-08.”
Wa Wamwere links the rallies to the wider context.
“The tragedy of Kenyan trials at the ICC is that Kenyan leaders have introduced politics as a tool of subverting justice and a weapon of impunity that will excuse African leaders from accountability. “
So, will it all work? Will all these prayers end up by freeing the Kenyans from the ICC yoke? Not according to those who are a little closer to God. Gabriel Dolan, a well-known priest and blogger sums it up in his headline:
It will be a test of wether our voices have been listened to or not pic.twitter.com/8fMtFEbHqu
— AMB. (Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed (@AMB_A_Mohammed) November 27, 2015
Dolan says that Pope Francis will automatically side with the victims in any society, “those who carry the burden of an unequal society”.
“He would want to visit IDPs, therefore, but don’t expect that he would show up at an ICC prayer session to intercede for the accused.”
Emanuele del Rosso is a cartoonist who works for Justice Hub.
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