Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mavuno Church got it right.

Your father, unless he has less conservative inclinations, will not talk about it. Mothers might, but only with their daughters, and only if they suspect the village Lothario is sniffing around the girl. For sure, your pastor will stay as far away from the subject as possible. Your teacher won't even bother to take a whack at it. Your peers will snigger knowingly, though they'll probably all be blind as bats on the subject. Your elder siblings will acquire an aloof, thousand-yard stare when you bring up the subject, or you stumble upon it...but they will be of little help. Magazines,. books, films and music of dubious provenance will provide much of your initial information on the subject, though with careful editing to ensure that the picture being luridly painted in your mind is totally unwholesome. As you reach the stage of taking bold steps on one path or another, certain encounters with certain third parties may either end well...or with years of shame to contend with.

The subject is sex and sexuality among the under-eighteens, especially the teenagers. This is the other sex-mad Kenya that seems to dominate the airwaves every time some idiot provokes the ire of the moral majority. In this case the idiot happens to be one of Nairobi's flashiest "it" churches, Mavuno, and its provocation was an online invitation to their Teenz Konnect service that has elicited reactions that are as panicky as they are hypocritical. 

In a poor country with an oppressively domineering sense of Christianity, any perceived assault on the morals of the people will be met with resistance, whether the resistance is rational or completely unhinged. Mavuno Church does not describe itself as a progressive church, but one that addresses the issues of its congregation without sophistry or cant. If it intended to provoke the interest of its congregation alone, it bit off more than it could chew. (Though it seems to be doing just fine.) But the reactions, online and off, by the leaders of Nairobi's other evangelical sects have been overwrought, principally this blogger believes, because they don't have the "it" glamour anymore. They have been wracked by so many scandals over the past month that they are unhappy that Mavuno has shone the spotlight on them in their period of infamy.

Yet this blogger believes that Mavuno did no wrong, that what it did focused the minds of the people, their church and their government on a problem that is bound to loom ever larger in the coming decade. Whether the subject of sex and sexuality is tackled clinically by medical professionals, academically by teachers, or spiritually by pastors, it must be tackled and tackled today. Cultural imperialism by non-Kenyans, especially the United States, Latin America and Western Europe have distorted our young people's minds regarding the subject. Many have been raised on television and radio that glorifies sex and sexuality without explaining the sociological, emotional, psychological or spiritual context.

Many youth have a distorted view of sex and sexuality, and are immature, incapable of dealing with the complex influences on their lives. The burden of dealing with the aftereffects of the poor education of the youth on this subject falls disproportionately on parents and the extended family, whether it is in the form of long-term health conditions without cures or unplanned additions to families.

Our reaction as a nation and as a society is to ignore the problem, to focus on the sensational, to react with faux outrage every time our sensibilities are assailed, and to wail louder than the bereaved. This blogger is glad that Mavuno has taken the lead to guide the youthful members of its congregation in their years of confusion and hormonal impulses. This blogger would recommend similar programmes for all congregations in Kenya, with the full backing of the State. It is time we yanked our heads out of the sand and admitted to ourselves that this is not the Kenya of the 1960 our parents speak of with such unpersuasive fondness.

No comments:

Go away.

A short video doing the rounds on social media shows former vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka and former Mombasa senator Omar Hasan changing wo...