I always hesitate a lot before talking about servants of God. It is very dangerous business indeed because GOD himself warns in his good book, “Touch not my anointed…” and it is mighty difficult to know who HIS anointed ones are these days. One of the reasons being that we have moved away from the days of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness with the most important message any human has had the privilege of relaying. Prophet John lived on the kind of budget that would make many super-rich modern-day Televangelists faint in disbelief.
Esther, Mrs Hellon and Mr Hellon at the press conference in Runda last week
On the business of cults, virtually every new church to arrive in Kenya has been labeled a cult. David Oyedepo’s Winner’s Chapel was for many years called a cult in Kenya and before that Harry Das’ Chrisco Co-workers fellowship was also called a cult. Both these two ministries are now very well established in the country and very few Kenyans still call them cults.
In view of this, analyzing Esther Arunga and religion feels like skating on very thin ice.
So let’s just jump straight into the politics behind the issue. Let’s start with the petty and office kind.
The first very interesting observation about this saga is the way the story broke. The powerful Radio Africa outfit just wrote and talked about it and never quit until it became a national issue. Radio Africa is that outfit owned by a Ghanian that runs the notorious FM stations called Kiss and Classic. They also publish a daily newspaper called The Star which is where a nice lady reporter called Grace Kerongo first broke the story.
The approach taken by the chaps at Radio Africa was that they were concerned for “a friend and colleague” who had ended up in some cult. Now this is preposterous because if somebody who is your true friend goes AWOL, you don’t make her the subject of discussion on a popular breakfast show. You look for your cell phone call them and set up a lunch date or whatever. As it is none of Esther’s so-called friends and colleagues did that. Poor Esther, with friends like that she would be much better off in a pit and surrounded by the most dangerous snakes in Kenya. Methinks the chaps at Radio Africa were just doing their job in the current vicious war by the Kenyan media to grab the attention of the increasingly bored, distracted and better informed Kenyan audience who are a tad harder to con into some profitable media promotion.
But why did Ms Kerongo think that the Esther Arunga story was important and why did her editors agree? Let me start with the editors. From circulation figures most media managers already know that stories about Kenyan celebrities sell newspapers like crazy. Especially if it is a scandal of sorts and that is why Kerongo dug out all the gory details she could find (more on that in a second). Kerongo thought that this was a big story because Esther was a celeb who had resigned from her high-profile job at KTN as a news anchor to “go live with some pastor.” And this happened shortly after she had broken off her engagement to her finacee, Wilson Malaba in favour of (now the juicy gossip really begins) Quincy Timberlake Wambita Zuma who is reportedly now her lover and happens to be in the country illegally according to the CID. There are unconfirmed reports that Timberlake's dad is a Kenyan of Luo origin. And it gets even juicer. The reason why Arunga broke off with her fiancée is because he reportedly made passes at 2 female members of the Finger of God church. And to make matters worse Mr Malaba had earlier used a log book of “one of Esthers’ cars” to get a loan from some loan shark. Meanwhile there were strong rumours that Esther is already pregnant from her new finacee. She has strongly denied these rumours. Timberlake who is said to have changed his name several times over the years is already married (has been for 11 years) and is a father of two.
Believe it or not, this “amazing” story moves from petty romance and office politics to national politics because Esther’s pastor Joseph Hellon has declared that he will run for the presidency of the republic of Kenya in 2012 and Esther Arunga will be his running mate. Wow!!!
Everything was going just fine for Joseph Hellon’s presidential campaign (can you imagine instant national attention and recognition for a man who had only previously been known to a very small clique of Kenyans as an amazing saxophone player inclined to Jazz) until the CID came calling and arrested Hellon, Esther and Timberlake. But fascinatingly Esther never made it to court and only Hellon and Timberlake were charged and then released on bail because the charge sheet was defective. It turns out that the fellows at CID did not do their due diligence and the Finger of God is in fact registered and yet the main charge against Hellon and Timberlake was belonging to an unregistered and dangerous organization. An interesting aside here is that I will never understand the law. Doesn’t freedom of worship allow you to worship who you want? Ama it is limited to the State’s interpretation of what a proper church should be?
Now why was Esther not charged alongside her fiancée and pastor? Your guess is as good as mine. But never forget that this is Kenya and some powerful people can watch the news and make a maximum of one call and everything changes completely in your favor.
This, the juiciest story in Kenya for a long time continues to play out. We are now awaiting a press conference from Esther’s first fiancée to explain about the log book and when he will return her car. The man has admitted using the log book to get a loan but insists it is a loan from a close friend. I also believe that the CID will discover that they have nothing further to charge Hellon with (announcing your interest in the presidency is “legal” these days and thank God for that).
By the way Esther has threatened to sue the media over some of the stories carried about her and she has to be taken seriously because she is a qualified lawyer.
A previous post about cute News anchors at KTN
Arunga Update: And the Arunga soap gets even more interesting. Family says that they are getting her to see a "shrink" to recover from the whole episode. Meanwhile Timberlake was denied bail because he allegedly absconded from another criminal case still pending in court. Read details HERE.
P.S. William Ruto pulled off quit a move yesterday. The agriculture minister used his money and influences to block a new list of ODM members of the powerful House business committee (that excluded him) from being passed. The “icing on the cake” was that the press caught him being wildly cheered in Kisumu as the drama was unfolding in parliament. Obviously this was for political show and muscle flexing, trying to show Kenyans that he has support in the PM’s own backyard. But even more interesting was the vote on the motion to put aside the issue until further consultation within ODM which Ruto’s allies won unanimously with plenty of support from the PNU side. Some political analysts believe that it will now be very difficult to get any ODM list without Ruto’s name passed in parliament. In my humble view the PM’s woes continue. Phil, an ODM insider whom we have the honour of hosting here in Kumekucha as one of our main writers, predicted last week that by the end of this week Ruto would have been hounded out of office. That does not look like happening.
I have received many emotional outbursts from my dearest readers for my stereotyping of the PM, but why doesn’t he go against the grain and prove my pigeonholing wrong by resigning from office and forfeiting his motorcade? How much punishment can a man take from a raw deal and still cling to office… and for what? Raila’s chance of resigning and looking the hero against the evil Mwai Kibaki regime that has shortchanged him so much right from his election victory, is rapidly disappearing in the horizon with grave political consequences. The 2012 presidential race is going to be the most difficult Raila has ever been involved in… mark my words.