Pentecostals Aim to Repossess Schools in Kenya

Many Directed by Catholic Church for Past 40 Years

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NAIROBI, Kenya, JAN. 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church is opposing a move by the African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) to repossess all the schools it had before Kenya´s independence in 1963.



"We cannot give up schools after developing them" for the past 40 or so years, Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret told the CISA agency this week.

According to statements of AIPCA Archbishop Samson Mwangi Gaitho, a committee has been appointed to repossess the 400 schools, which were owned by the church during the pre-colonial era.

AIPCA is said to have lost its schools, the majority of which are in Eastern and Central Provinces, to the colonial government because of its patriotism in the struggle for freedom.

The Pentecostal archbishop´s remarks come in the wake of President Daniel Arap Moi´s directive last week to the District Education Board, that it surrender to AIPCA all schools they had built using their own resources.

In a more recent statement, however, the president explained that schools already being managed by other churches should be allowed to continue to do so in the interest of harmony.

Referring to remarks made by some educators that AIPCA lacked the experience needed to run schools, Pentecostal Archbishop Gaitho maintained that AIPCA schools were well organized with a "working educational network throughout the country."

He assured the management, teaching staff, and other workers in the institutions that there will be no change in their present status when all the schools are returned to them.

For his part, Catholic Bishop Korir, chairman of the Catholic Commission for Education, said that the local communities, which actually own the land, should decide.

"Let the local people determine who should sponsor their schools," he said. The bishop also wondered why this issue had surfaced after all these years.

AIPCA is determined to repossess all "their" schools, not only those run by the District Education Board but also those managed by other churches.

The archbishop also denied that his church´s object was to promote only Kikuyu cultural values and customs in the students instead of general moral values.

Asked why this matter is being raised now, the Reverend Archdeacon Wilson Muchai, of AIPCA Nairobi, answered that the present leadership was fully organized to manage a task of such enormity.

This eastern African nation of 30 million is about 38% Protestant and 28% Roman Catholic. About 26% follow indigenous beliefs. Muslims comprise 7% of the population.