The First Presbyterian Church of Woodward recently hosted visitors from Kenya.

The Rev. Hezron Maina Wandu and his wife Mrs. Gladys Wanjiku Maina were invited by the Cimarron Prebytery to spend several weeks in Northwest Oklahoma in order to find out more about the inner workings of the Presbyterian Church System both in Oklahoma and the United States. The Cimarron Presbytery in Oklahoma partners with the with the Gatandu Presbytery in Kenya.

“We’re trying to mix sight seeing and public engagements, give them a good variety of experiences to talk about back home,” said First Presbyterian Pastor Dr. Richard McFarlin.

The couple said two things they want to implement in their church in Kenya is more Bible study and more music.

“People here like music. People are well trained. They have learned music, that’s wonderful,” said Maina. “Here people do a lot of Bible study. They have many meetings. They enjoy helping people.”

The reverend and his wife talked at length about their life in Kenya and the economic and political problems facing the people of Kenya. Currently the partnering churches are working on a center to teach sewing and make school uniforms. They hope this project will create jobs, reduce education costs and create future development opportunities.

According to Maina, one of the reasons for the state of economic decline in Kenya is the corrupt system of dictatorship that existed during the later half of the 20th century.

Wandu said between 1968 and 1973 the people of Kenya were not able to elect a president through a democratic system of government. He said under the Kenya Africa National Union, the government would simply tell the people there had been a unanimous decision to re-elect the president. When the late Jomo Kenyatta passed away, the vice-president Arap Moi became his successor. Under Moi’s rule, all the money from local farmers was squandered and government officials were kept under Moi’s control.

Maina said under this system of rule, those that contested the government were detained, beaten or killed.

Farmers retaliated by destroying crops in protest, resulting in economic decline and famine for the entire country.

In 2002 the democratic national Rainbow Coalition came into power under Muri Kibaki, and began restoring order and financial stability to the country. Wandu said the educational background of the current president is the primary reason behind a more modern, democratic system of government in the country today.

Kenya is set to hold elections in November to vote on a new constitution. Among other things, the constitution will set a time limit on the number of times the president may be elected to office. Under the new constitution there will be elections every five years. The president may hold up to two terms in office. Those in favor of the new constitution feel the new laws are necessary to protect the country from dictatorship.

“We have free education. Every child is educated,” said Maina. “There is better agriculture and more security.”

The couple spoke positively of the U.S. government, comparing it with the democratic reforms currently taking place in Kenya.

“People here are hard working, and we can see that hard working is motivated by the payment from the government,” Maina said.

The couple discussed day to day living in Kenya explaining how money, education and opportunity affected lifestyle. According to the reverend and his wife, the biggest differences between the United States and Kenya are unemployment and transportation. In Kenya, manual laborers are hired on a monthly basis. Those in rural communities walk many miles, using physical strength to transport livestock and crops. Many also rely on the land to feed themselves and their livestock.

Towns are planned in a more traditional fashion, with those who have more money living closer to the center of town.

“Our houses differ with how one is rich,” Maina said.

The couple said lifestyles also differ according to physical location with those in the center of the city working a 9-to-5 job and those in more rural areas working the fields.

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