In Chapter 9 of the book of Acts in the Holy Bible, we find the fascinating story of a man known as Saul of Tarsus. He was a very, very bad man, at the time, possibly the earthly image of the Devil reincarnate. If you were a Christian in Jerusalem and its surroundings around the time Saul lived—that is 35AD—chances are that you would have done everything in your power to avoid meeting this man.
Why, you ask? Because when it came to persecuting Christians, no one did it better (if you can apply that adjective in its most negative form) than Saul of Tarsus. With permission and connivance of the rulers of the time, Saul would herd together groups of known Christians, tied them in ropes like animals and have them whipped sometimes to death. Those who did not die from the beatings would be subjected to most cruel death by slaughter. Saul of Tarsus was a man with lots blood in his hands.
Then one day, Saul wanted to export his murderous business of persecuting Christians to Damascus. So he went to the local Synagogue and asked the high priest to issue him with an authorization letter that would enable him to arrest men, women and children bind them in ropes and drive them back to Jerusalem for persecution. Their crimes? Being Christians.
On his way to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus saw a sudden flash of light that was so bright that it blinded him. He fell on the ground not knowing what to do. Then a voice from heaven shouted at him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Saul replied: “Who is this, Lord?” The voice replied: “I am Jesus whom you persecute” Trembling and scared, Saul responded: “What would you like me to do oh Lord?” Jesus replied: “Arise and go into the city and you will be told what to do from there"
Saul went to the city where he stayed blind and fasting for three days. On the fourth day he regained his sight and from that moment he became a converted person. He was no longer Saul of Tarsus but Paul who now preached Christianity and protected Christians. Many were surprised and even more shocked by his conversion.
Now, in the world of politics, Kenya has its own fair share of equivalents of Saul of Tarsus. These are politicians who belonged to one shade of politics and have since converted to a different shade. Take for instance our Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs, Mutula Kilonzo. Like Saul of yore, Mutula Kilonzo belonged to a different brand of politics in 1990s. As the lead lawyer for KANU and Moi regime, Mutula Kilonzo was in the forefront pushing KANU’s and Moi’s agenda, which often went contradictory to public expectations and public good.
Towards the end of 1980s when lawyers, journalists, academicians, politicians and other members of the intelligentsia started agitating for political reforms in the country to contain KANU’s autocratic leadership, Mutula Kilonzo was one of the biggest and loudest supporters of KANU and its ways. At the height of KANU’s political hegemony, Mutula was the figurative Saul of Tarsus in Kenyan politics. Of course he was not the only one.
Then in 2002, KANU lost power. However, the former ruling party rewarded Mutula Kilonzo’s loyalty and service with a nomination to parliament. Throughout the period Mutula Kilonzo served as a nominated Member of Parliament or in the previous years when he was Chairman of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), he never showed much (if any) propensity for being a defender of public interests, political morality or any other political virtues known to man.
Then during the 2007 General Elections Mutula Kilonzo got elected Member of Parliament for Mbooni and appointed a cabinet minister later, and voilà, Mutula Kilonzo started undergoing a most serious political metamorphosis! Almost overnight, Mutula Kilonzo became a great champion of the very same virtues he helped KANU trample upon for many years.
So today Mutula Kilonzo has been shouting loudest about the virtues of political morality in leadership and asking Uhuru Kenyatta to resign as Deputy Prime Minister “because it is politically immoral to continue holding a public office while facing charges of crimes against humanity.”
Now, I no quarrel with Mutula Kilonzo’s reasoning on this matter, in fact I believe he has a good point, but that is besides the point. My gripe with the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister is that given the man’s past political leanings and history; he certainly is in no positions to lecture anyone about political morality.
The more Mutula Kilonzo shouts the word “resign, resign” to Uhuru, the more it reminds one of another biblical incident. There is this other day when Jesus found an irate group of people about to stone to death a woman accused of adultery. After carefully listening to her story, Jesus had this to say to the group baying for the woman’s blood: “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” One by one the crowd melted away.
Mwenda Njoka is the founder of Africa Centre for Investigative Journalism.