My grandfather whom am proudly named after as Gikuyu custom dictates was a character of a man who devised his own rules and regulations as appertains religion. Yes, he believed in God but he bore no allegiance to any religious outfit.
He especially detested evangelical pastors who always tried to convert him to a born again Christian. Heck, even a bunch of SDA dudes came along calling him to their way; his way of sending them off was a series of clinically administered doses of solid facts which they failed to counter.
My granny on the other hand was a staunch Presbyterian and i don’t recall ever hearing her urge grandpa to dress up in his favourite suit (the one normally reserved for AGMs at KBL) and head to church. Never! I guess she had already tried and failed way back when they were a young couple, probably right after he came back from the WW2.
We also grew up in Presbyterian setting though we later branched into more vigorous and exuberant churches whose style of praise appealed to the youth through song and dance. Presbyterian has always been conservative; as such many youth craved for something more energetic which at least bore close resemblance to whatever they loved to do, dance.
Grandpa only set foot in church when i was being baptised at the Musa Gitau Presbyterian Church. After that he neither much as looked in the direction of any Church nor harboured any guilt for not attending service.
Not my grandfather. He always remained behind as we headed out for church doing either of several things; washing his heavy cuodoroy jacket (man, this thing weighed a ton) which he used to cover us as we slept, taking the donkey out to pasture (poor thing died recently) or listening to his 2 band transistor radio. FYI he wasn’t one to tune into a gospel show, nope, to him it was always news and crackling Radio BBC.
Talking of Late Mr Donkey, grandpa was the only one who could approach it without the fear of being kicked. It was one hell of a kicker, almost broke my leg once. I still have a mark to prove it!
Was he agnostic (grandpa, not the donkey)? Hardly, he had a strong belief in God’s existence and supported it with strong biblical facts which actually amazed me coz i have never seen him holding a bible! He even used to do some old old old…very old church hymns which he may have learned before joining the Army!
Was he twisted? I don’t think so. The way he argued with the evangelical pastors who called themselves prophets and the chosen ones was purely on a scholarly level. This was above blemish and anyone who dared converse or debate with him on religious issues got the impression that he was doing so with a great man, witty to a fault in spite of his age!
So when i was watching the expose aired two weeks ago on ‘prophet’ Kanyari and his troupe of drama kings and queens i thought how grandpa would have laughed his grey hairs off if he had watched it.
There was a time he confided in me that it wasn’t that he disliked Church, no; he just was not so in love with HOW the Good word was taught. He felt that it was being twisted to fit the ‘men of the cloth’, turning the whole thing into a money maker for the ‘chosen few’.
He then told me that he would join church (specifically Presbyterian) just before he kicked the bucket so that the church guys can have a field day burying him six feet under, singing sombre hymns for a befitting send off. He even sang a few of them, some kind of a premonitory rehearsal!
Unlike most people who questioned my reversion to Islam, he just asked me whether i was comfortable in my new religion, i said yes. He nodded and continued to tell me that he wanted my help planting blue gum trees on the path leading to the gate.
In spite of me attending church and him choosing not to, i never lost respect for him. We however agreed on one thing even before i reverted, some of the guys who claim to be prophets are total fakes. Take for instance this self proclaimed prophet who prayed for us and in his wisdom or whatever prophesied that i would grow up to be a drunkard, like grandpa.
Came as a shock to me especially coz it felt like an insult to grandpa too. I mean, he really did love the bottle but nobody ever said that the habit is hereditary to be passed on from father to son and so on.
So when i told him what the ‘prophet’ had said, he laughed it off and said, “Aah, leave him alone. To everyone is his way of having fun; mine is White Cap his is so called Divine wine which can be as intoxicating if he consumes as much as i do!”