Kisumu Sculpture


We, the members of the Kenyan Asian Forum, are outraged and deeply disappointed about the desecration of a beautiful sculpture put up by the Sikh community in Kisumu city. According to press reports the fracas was instigated by some Christian pastors who declared the sculpture as ‘evil’ and a form of ‘idol worship’. Did those fanatics even know that the Sikh religion expressly forbids idol worship? And in any case since when has Christianity become the state religion? No doubt a strong underlying factor in the youth’s frenzy was anti-Asian racism.  Are the Sikhs Kenyans or not? Do they pay taxes or not? We can vouch that they are one of the most philanthropic of the Asian communities. So the financial contributions are acceptable from these ‘idol worshippers’!

And were those youths who defied Raila Odinga politically motivated? We wonder what other forces were in play. The statement that ONLY the statues of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Tom Mboya would be allowed in Kisumu means then that the statue of Tom Mboya in Nairobi should be moved to Luoland! And all other communities are just guests in Kisumu with no rights, or responsibilities.

But the most poignant irony of it all is that the sculpture was designed and crafted entirely by Orshottoe Ondula – not only a Luo artist, but a Christian one too! He pleaded in vain for some sanity. It is the bane of our society that we seem to be totally incapable of dialogue with those we differ from – we only know the language of machetes and pangas.

And is there no law or order? What the hooligans did was in complete violation of the text and the spirit of the constitution. The Sikh community commissioned the sculpture with the consent of the Kisumu County Council. To date there has been no official comment on this vandalism and not a single responsible Christian cleric has condemned the wanton destruction. Why were there no arrests made? The police are quick to break up a lawful meeting in Freedom Corner although it has a police permit, but do nothing when an illegal/unconstitutional act is committed by the hooligans.

The Asians of course are a minority and the Sikhs even more so. But conflagrations start with one small spark – if we do not insist on justice and human rights now; soon it may be too late. We have become a highly intolerant society whether it is religion, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.

And by the way, just across our borders, Uganda has just issued 4 stamps to commemorate the centenary of the arrival of the Sikhs in East Africa.

(Include the stamps)

The Kenya Asian Forum

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