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PEN COP: The ‘ironic’ death of an Orthodox bishop

A sombre mood engulfed their homes yesterday as relatives and friends came to console their grief-stricken families. (Nation, January 30, p.9) This sentence or its sister appears often in news reports about death. It is unnecessary. It is not news. There is always a sombre mood in a home where a person has died. And friends and relatives will come to console the grief-stricken family.

The Orthodox Church in Kenya, and the Christian community at large, is in mourning today as it lays to rest the first bishop of the Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya, Dr Athanasius Akunda. (Nation, January 30, p.9) This is a lie. Where did the reporter see this mourning reported here? Kenya is 80 per cent Christian – that means eight in every ten citizens. We can assure that most of these people – called “the Christian community at large” – knew nothing about the bishop’s death. How did they mourn? The report did not say. Journalism is about facts.

The irony of his death is that it comes less than three years after the creation of the Diocese of Nyeri and Mount Kenya and his own Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya, both of which fall under the Archdioces of Nairobi. (Nation, January 30, p.9) What is the irony of this man of God’s death? How is it connected to the creation of the two dioceses? Does the Orthodox Church (or any other) decree a minimum period of service of three years for a new bishop before he dies? Only then would an earlier death qualify as ironic. As it is, no one knows the day of their own death or that of any other person.

Bishop Akunda’s death will be felt beyond Kenyan borders. The Universal Church will miss the great ecumenist and servant of God who represented the Patriarchate of Alexandria at the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches. (Nation, January 30, p.9) Okay. Put all that on the obituary pages. Thank you.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki says that most of the roads and water projects started in Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties during the Jubilee government’s first term have either stalled or are moving very slowly. (Nation, January 30, p.24) The roads and water projects “are moving very slowly” to where? Towards Isiolo?

Media girls who want to last long in the industry should be passionate and have set goals, celebrated TV girl Lulu Hassan has said. (Star, January 30, p.19) Who are “media girls”, news presenters like “TV girl” Lulu Hassan? Do we have “media boys” then, perhaps people like Lulu Hassan’s husband Rashid Abdallah?

 Faced with a barrage of attacks over early 2022 presidential campaigns, Deputy President William Ruto appears to have changed tack as part of a calculated move to cut the image of a true statesman even as his allies braced for a political battle. (People Daily, January 28, p.6) Former Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has urged the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) to change its tact if it is to win the fight against Al Shabaab militants. (People Daily, January 28, p.6) So, which is the correct expression: change tack or tact? The first, which means change course/direction.

In the Star, February 1, 2019, p.2 under the title “Naivasha residents want riders retrained”, George Murage writes: Two men yesterday died in separate accidents in Naivasha. So who died? Yesterday or two men? This is confusing especially when it is the intro. A better sentence would read: Two men died yesterday in separate accidents in Naivasha.

Still on The Star, February 1, p.4 under the title “Cooperate with Matiang’i or resign, Uhuru tells CSs”, James Mbaka writes: Kibicho working with Waita will ensure the provincial administration and all other government agencies deliver, as the president wants.” Wait, what? Does provincial administration still exist?

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