Baptist minister in Texas makes another run for Kenyan Parliament - Word&Way

Baptist minister in Texas makes another run for Kenyan Parliament

DALLAS—A Kenyan expatriate and Baptist pastor who lost his bid for a parliamentary seat in 2007 has announced plans to run again. And his ultimate ambitions reach even higher, as evidenced by his Facebook page, "Rev. Dr. Solomon Kimuyu for President."

Five years ago, Kimuyu—who holds citizenship in Kenya and permanent resident status in the United States—became the first Kenyan living in what his countrymen call "the diaspora" to be nominated for office by a major political party. He initially received the Kenya African National Union nomination to represent Machakos, about 35 miles east of Nairobi.

However, when the party that nominated him was folded into a coalition Party of National Unity, another candidate received the endorsement. Kimuyu subsequently ran as the United Democratic Party of Kenya candidate, but he was defeated soundly.

This time, he will run as the Labor Party of Kenya standard bearer, representing the newly created Makovo district.

Once again, his campaign emphasizes the need for Kenya and other nations of the Southern Hemisphere to achieve the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals—cutting global poverty in half by 2015, reducing child mortality and fighting HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases.

But after the violence surrounding the disputed 2007 elections and what he sees as problems in the resulting coalition government, Kimuyu also has a new campaign pledge—to bring integrity to Kenya's political process.

"When people of integrity are elected to power, there will be a change in national policy and the way government does its business," he said.

Violence in Kenya related to the 2007 elections claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced more than 300,000 people, according to Amnesty International—and Kimuyu remains convinced the numbers were much greater than reported.

Four leaders of Kenya—including two presidential candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto—face trial by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity on charges that stem from the election-related violence.

"Those who are accountable … must bear the full responsibility for the crimes they committed," Kimuyu wrote in a recent letter to more than 130 bishops and pastors in Kenya. "I urge that no bishop and/or church in Kenya should ever take sides with those who committed the atrocities against our people as a nation."

Kimuyu also wants to overturn the constitutional recognition granted to Kadhi courts, a provision of Islamic Sharia law related to enforcement of laws regarding marriage, divorce and inheritance among Muslims.

"We must be in Parliament to repeal the constitution," he explained.

Proponents of the provision in the 2010 constitution that establishes Kadhi courts framed it as a necessary concession to protect the rights of Kenya's Muslim minority. But Kimuyu views the measure as granting official recognition to Islam and as the first step toward imposing Sharia law on all Kenyans.

"Christians are locked out by this constitution," he insisted. "This constitution only meets the needs of Muslims."

Kimuyu has lived in the United States more than two decades, earning degrees from Howard Payne University, Dallas Baptist University and the University of North Texas and launching several homes for home for children and youth.

Before moving to Texas, he served as pastor of Athi River First Baptist Church in Kenya, general secretary of the Baptist Convention of Kenya and vice president for the All-Africa Baptist Union.