From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Kenya Churches Alarmed at AIDS News

Date 28 May 1996 05:47:06

Canon James M. Rosenthal, Director of Communications
Anglican Communion News Service
157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UT, England
Tel. 44 0171 620-1110
Fax 44 0171 620-1071

760 ACC 

Kenya Churches Alarmed at AIDS News

(ENI- Ecumenical News International) Church leaders in Kenya have
expressed concern about the rate of HIV infection after being told
that in some parts of Kenya the virus could cut average life
expectancy by 17 years by the end of the century.

The predictions were made by Richard Muga, a medical doctor speaking
at a Church and government-sponsored seminar on 4 October in the
town of Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria. The region has a high
incidence of HIV infection.

According to Dr Muga, the government's Medical Officer for Nyanza
Province, western Kenya, some cultural practices - especially those
of the Luo tribe - in the province enhanced the spread of HIV. He
singled out the custom by which after a man's death his widow was
adopted as a wife by one of his brothers.

Some Church leaders at the seminar also pointed out that migration
by males from rural districts to towns in search of jobs separated
couples and contributed to the spread of the virus. They also
mentioned truck drivers who travelled through western Kenya and
engaged in commercial sex.

The seminar was attended by representatives of the (Anglican) Church
of the Province of Kenya and of Kenya's independent Churches.

The Churches appealed to the government to help them raise funds
through financial institutions like the World Bank for community-
based development projects including HIV awareness campaigns.

In a related development, Kenya's President, Daniel arap Moi,
announced on 4 October that Kenya's family life education programme
was being cancelled. The programme - based on sex education - was
set up by the government to slow population growth.

Shortly afterwards, the Education Minister, Joseph Kamotho, told
parliament that the government's policy was not to teach sex or
family life education or to expose children to various birth control
methods like condoms which could "spoil their morals".

Mr Kamotho said that Kenya's Roman Catholic bishops had opposed the
programme because it involved the introduction of "immoral
literature" in the school curriculum.

In August, the leader of Kenya's Roman Catholics, Cardinal Maurice
Otunga, and a Muslim religious leader, Ali Shee, of Nairobi, took
part in a public ceremony in which sex education literature and
condoms were burnt in Nairobi's Uhuru Park during a protest against
the family life education programme.

Ali Shee said that the programme was not compatible with the Koran
or the Bible. He said that neither Muslims nor Christians wanted
foreign values imposed on them, and that Islam and Christianity
agreed on 80 per cent of moral issues.

However some non-governmental organisations in Nairobi have, since
the cancellation of the programme on 4 October, expressed fears that
the government's decision could reverse recent advances in
population control and Aids-awareness campaigns, particularly among

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home