The Methodist Bishop, Lawi Imathiu, is the driving force behind many things in this area. Among the many, many things he has done are to start the Thiiri Centre, build the secondary and primary schools, and also run church activities. But to boil it down like that is a disservice of a lifetime of accomplishments. (For example, I think that he is a former worldwide leader of the Methodist Church.)
I bring his name up because Marilyn and I were talking this morning about the things that he did yesterday. My day pales in comparison. Here are only two events in his day, and I’m sure there were more:
In the afternoon, the Bishop went to a funeral service for a man who was beheaded on Sunday. This man and two others were attacked, seemingly randomly, on the streets of the village. It is extremely rare to have any of this kind of violence in Meru, so it is even more surprising that the violence was so extreme.
After that emotional service, the Bishop was helicoptered out to a meeting between arguing tribes. He represented the Mt. Meru Association, which consists of the Kikuyu, Embu, and Meru people. The Kikuyu tribe is probably the biggest tribe in Kenya, and used to have a great deal of land before their territory was stripped from them by colonization. When land was redistributed while Kenyans took back their country, the land was not divided fairly – depending on who was president, that leader’s tribe usually got more than other tribes. When the Bishop arrived at the meeting, the tribe leaders had already been arguing for some time about what unfairness had happened in the past. From what I can tell, he pulled rank, made sure everyone really understood that you can’t change the past – and apparently, after that, talks began moving forward.
I can’t imagine being a person that regularly has to deal with such colossal events and meetings all the time. I feel as though I get frustrated and overwhelmed with small-time politics and bureaucracies, and this man deals with this kind of day on a regular basis. Wow.