Saturday, May 9, 2009

Waziri Mkuu wa Kenya-Raila Odinga abatizwa

Pastor David Owuor comes across as one of the more colourful and esoteric voices in Kenya’s growing legion of fire-and-brimstone evangelical preachers.

His long dreadlocked beard lends him instant recognition, but there can be nothing that more vividly marks his acceptance into the mainstream than his new standing as the preacher who baptised Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Having made a career out of constant predictions of earthquakes, Pastor Owuor now has the keys to the corridors of power where his prescriptions to avert doomsday might find sympathetic ears.

Repentance day

Indeed soon after immersing Mr Odinga in water, the preacher announced he would be convening a meeting between himself, the PM and President Kibaki to plan a national day of repentance.

Mr Odinga concurred: “Very soon, the President and I are going to announce the specific date on national repentance in which I will ask all people to observe a day of repentance in seeking God’s intervention and direction,” he said.

It would indeed be a major feat if Pastor Owuor becomes the main preacher on such an occasion, usually the preserve of the Catholic, Anglican, Islamic, Presbyterian and other mainstream denominations.

Pastor Owuor first came to the limelight with his October 2005 predictions of an earthquake that would bring down Nairobi’s tallest buildings. It did not come to pass.

Still, the pastor has not been discouraged from regular prophesies. He also has not been shy to seize upon events, like the earth tremors in 2007, as proof that his prophecies are accurate.

On Monday evening, Pastor Owuor dipped the PM into the water of a swimming pool at a residence on Riverside Drive, Nairobi, and was catapulted to the national limelight.

His future predictions will not be so easy to dismiss henceforth, if he is seen to have the devoted followers amongst the high and mighty.

Followers of his Holiness and Repentance Ministries began trooping into the home at around 11am.

The women wore long dresses and scarves that covered the hair. In the crowd were a few Asian women in saris. The men were in suits and ties and soon, the choir began belting out Gospel tunes as a pianist ran his fingers over an electronic keyboard.

The baptism ceremony was set to begin at 2pm. A tent was set up behind the house, just next to the pool, and decorated with blue and white ribbons and balloons. The pool was a glittering clean, and the breeze formed ripples on the water.

After sodas and cakes, the congregation settled to wait for the PM as journalists began to arrive. It turned out to be a long wait and a few hours later, at 5.35pm, the PM’s motorcade entered the compound.

The ceremony was fulfilment of a promise more than a month earlier, on March 28, when the PM showed up at one of Pastor Owuor’s huge rallies in Nakuru and declared that he was born-again.

On arrival, Mr Odinga greeted the congregation and then went into a private meeting with Pastor Owuor, to emerge having changed from the dark business suit he wore earlier at his meeting with President Kibaki, into a spotless white ankle-length tunic ready for baptism.

Prayers and sermons and a reading from the book of Matthew on the baptism of Jesus Christ by John at the River Jordan followed.

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