Religious Leaders Urge Kenyans to Handle Emotions with Care as Country Nears Elections

Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A section of Religious leaders in Kenya have called for calm and for citizens of the East African nation to tame their emotions as the country edges close to the general elections slated for Tuesday, August 9.

In a Friday, August 5 Citizen TV show, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri and Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome Asmani, a Kenyan Muslim Religious Scholar, called on Kenyans to pray to get good leaders and to maintain peace during the electioneering period.

Archbishop Muheria, in particular, acknowledged that it is “human” for emotions to rise “as any type of competition gets closer”, and advised the people of God in the country to not allow their feelings to get the better of them.

“As religious leaders, we congratulate Kenyans because we have demonstrated maturity in listening to our politicians without accepting to be incited against each other. So far, we are doing well,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said.

He added, “As we edge closer to the finish line, however, we realize we are getting to the moment where emotions rise, where political utterances are thrown here and there and others start fearing for their lives. All this is human. However, we need to realize that as Kenyans, we are known for our deep fear of God.”


He noted that it has always been the culture of Kenyans to put God at the center of everything, and added, “It is important that as we edge closer to elections on August 9, we need to go down on our knees, raise our eyes in heaven and to ask God to bless our electioneering period.”

The Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese who doubles as the Chairman of the Commission for Social Communications of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) urged Kenyans to spend the remaining days before the general elections to pray for good leaders at all levels of government.

“We need to ask for wisdom from God, to ask Him to lead us in electing a leader who will work with us in building our nation. We should pray for good leaders all the way from the member of parliament seat to the presidency,” he said.

He added, “Let us not forget that in this electioneering equation, there is an important factor and that is God. Let us turn to God and pray for peace. Let us ask for strength not to yield to evil incitement that may fuel fear among our brothers.”

The 59-year-old member of Opus Dei who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2004 as the Bishop of Embu Diocese in Kenya found it regrettable that some religious leaders had been compromised during the political campaigns owing to their weaknesses, greed and desire for power and material gain, sometimes from politicians.

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He called on Kenyans to choose leaders who demonstrate humility and respect in religious gatherings, noting that some politicians were using prayer to glorify themselves during political campaigns.

Similarly, prayers have been conducted to glorify politicians instead of praying for the greater good of the nation, Archbishop Muheria said.

“When we pray, we don’t force God’s hand in our lives. We ask for His mercy and blessings. We need to respect the Holiness of God … Our prayers should be said with a lot of humility,” he said, and added, “Church leaders are not supposed to pray in a way that glorifies a human being.”

The Kenyan Archbishop continued, “Our political leaders are also supposed to pray with a lot of humility. I believe that this is one of the qualities that we shall be looking for in the leaders that we elect in this election.”

On his part, Sheikh Asmani expressed gratitude to the Kenyan media, noting that the press had acknowledged the role of religious leaders as stakeholders in the country’s elections.


He noted that faith leaders had chosen to remain neutral in the ongoing political campaigns in Kenya, saying, “As people take sides in these rallies, we as religious stay neutral and our purpose is to preach peace. This is what we have been called to do.”

The Muslim scholar noted that the only reason that violence occurs is the fact that people do not appreciate their differences.

“Our God created us this way in His own wisdom. If He wanted it, all of us would be Chinese, Africans or whites. We must accept that it is God who ordained our differences,” Sheikh Asmani said during the August 5 show on Citizen TV. 

The Kenyan Muslim leader added, “The same goes for religion and politics. We can’t all have the same opinion in regards to politics. But this should not be a reason for us to fight. As religious leaders, we have the best opportunity to provide guidance to the people and to let them know that God would want for us to stay in peace with our differences.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.