Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister was assassinated two weeks after a Prayer Breakfast in February 1990
By Mbatia wa Njambi
By now you know the annual National Prayer Breakfast held at the end of every May at the Safari Park Hotel Nairobi, is never about prayers-but influence peddling. In fact, one Prayer Breakfast led to one of the most tear jerking political murders in Kenya.
Usual guests are not the walala hoi, but Presidents, politicians, nabobs in government, captains of industry, mandarins of the NGO world, diplomats, judges, policy makers, lobbyists and religious leaders.
The National Prayer Breakfast began in the USA where Dr Robert Ouko was invited as Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister in February 1990. He was assassinated two weeks later! Dr Ouko had gone to Washington, tagging along the late President Daniel arap Moi– not for prayers-but to beseech for military and financial aid from Uncle Sam.
If it’s a National Prayer Breakfast, why is it not held at Uhuru Park like other national events?
Kenya’s first National Prayer Breakfast was held at the Safari Park Hotel & Casino in May 2003 starring 3000 invited guests from different countries. But Kenyans have never been party to it. They are never asked to pray in their homes, offices or churches. Indeed, if it’s a National Prayer Breakfast, why is it not held at Uhuru Park where national events are held?
Kenyans only follow it live on television from where they watch attendees, some of dubious distinction, sipping milky tea, forking at greasy potato wedges, starchy arrow roots and carcinogenic sausages while listening to sonorous renditions from the Parliamentary choir. Though the tab is bankrolled by taxpayers, the Prayer Breakfast’s bill is never made public.
National events including the opening of Parliament has prayers offered by religious leaders from the Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Muslim and that Maasai elder, Shopon Lekolol, who clad in traditional regalia, represents indigenous sects. But, the Prayer Breakfast is largely Christian themed and of 16 guest speakers in Kenya, only one was a religious leader- the late Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret in 2010. This year’s though, will be different: Anglican head, Bishop Samson ole Sapit and Nyeri Catholic Church head, Archbishop Anthony Muheria will be among key note speakers.
The Breakfast a great idea, but it seems reserved for only those in power
Indeed, the mission of Kenya’s Prayer Breakfast which is organized by the National Assembly is “using influence as a strategy in reaching out to National Leaders to positively transform Kenya and beyond.” Not prayers.
The idea of the Prayer Breakfast started in America in 1935 when Norwegian-born evangelical Abraham Vereide founded The Family to “provide space for men of power to meet regularly for prayers and Bible Study.” But it only took root when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was invited to the first Presidential Prayer Breakfast sponsored by The Family in 1953.
Vereide died in 1969 and was succeeded by Doug Coe who morphed and modeled The Family as a secretive quasi-theocratic movement like the Mafia-but minus the violence, racketeering and drug trafficking.
The Prayer Breakfast gradually became an invisible merger of Church and State…a sort of Christian Mafia
The Presidential Prayer Breakfast gradually became an invisible merger of Church and State with the Family as a sort of Christian Mafia intent on creating a global theocracy through “non-consensual diplomacy.” Coe, before his death in 2017, was the ‘most powerful man in Washington whose name you don’t know.’
Members of The Family even rooted for the irreligious Donald Trump who read from ‘Two Corinthians’ instead of the Book of Second Corinthians when he graced the Prayer Breakfast as America’s President in 2018.
The President’s Prayer Breakfast changed names to its current National Prayer Breakfast in 1970. Like in America, every Kenyan president attends and in 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were the chief guests after coming to power.
Actual money spent on Prayer Breakfast is never disclosed despite being taxpayer’s tab
The Family used prayers as veil to handpick political leaders some, straight from college for future political positions to influence the world order according to American journalist Jeff Sharlet’s 2008 book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.
Sharlet, was recruited as a member of The Family and his book inspired an eponymous documentary a series now aired on Netflix. It is from the non-threatening gathering of the National Prayer Breakfast where invited guests would mingle for influence peddling in a ‘Corporate Christianity’ setting.
Kenya borrowed the idea without elements of The Family as a secret society. While it took root from 2003, the idea has been marinating since Kalonzo Musyoka, then Deputy Speaker, was invited for the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in 1987.
Kenya borrowed the idea without elements of The Family as a secret society
The meeting of political rivals in a prayer breakfast so intrigued Speaker Moses Keino in 1988 he urged then President Daniel arap Moi to attend, but couldn’t due to Kenya’s poor political and human rights record. America was harsh on such countries and their presidents.
That Ouko could be the blue eyed boy of Washington and a potential presidential material was anathema to some players in the inner sanctum of the Moi regime most notably Internal Security PS the late Hezekiah Oyugi and Minister of State Nicholas Biwott.
British historian David Branch in Kenya: Between Hope and Despair 1963-2007, points to the Prayer Breakfast in Washington as Ouko’s waterloo. Though he had frosty relations with his Cabinet colleagues over his stand on official corruption, it was one of the reasons that precipitated his assassination in February 1990 when his charred remains were found at Got Alila Hills, near his home in Koru, Kisumu County.
Members influence political direction by merging Christianity with corporate capitalism
Government authorities laughably explained that Ouko set himself on fire before shooting himself! The National Prayer Breakfast never took off in Kenya after Ouko’s murder and only resurfaced after Moi left power in 2003.
But such is its history as an off-shoot of The Family whose members are “driven by the belief that they’re “God’s chosen, hand-selected by Him to lead” but in so doing “shore up political and social influence right beneath the population’s nose.”
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