Tag Archives: Business

THE BIBLE SAYS

Many a false prophets have used the phrase “the Bible says…” in order to promote their personal will and deceive the masses. Such prophets are now using “the Bible says…” to amass personal wealth by extracting money from members of their congregation.

Recently, KTN Kenya aired an investigative piece titled “Prayer Predators” (English version)/ “Makri ya Injili” (Swahili version). It looks at one Victor Kanyari who purports to be not just a preacher but a prophet and a doctor. The piece shows how he manipulates his congregants and others members of the public into bankrolling his “ministry.” He gives sermons but his walk is evidently kilometers away from the Bible he quotes so often. He says that God has given him a message about person ABC who is suffering from disease DEF and character GHI who has issue JKL. It turns out he has staff members who source these stories from unsuspecting congregants. The stories are then written in a book that Kanyari references while preaching. He claims to be able to cure cancer and HIV, among others. In reality, his staff members give false testimony that they had diseases that were cured due to Kanyari’s prayers and the financial seed that they planted.

What Kanyari does is disturbing and shocking. He preys on people who are struggling to make ends meet, searching for hope to cling to, desperately trying to find a cure, and in some cases looking for a way out of their current situations. He does it with such brazen confidence too, like that’s the price people have to pay for his existence on this earth.

Kanyari isn’t the only one. There are many others like him who have and continue to capitalize on religion. It’s not just in Kenya either, we see it happening all over Africa. These so-called prophets and preachers are trading “miracles and prayers” for money. If you want to pray for a person, just pray for them. Why do they have to part with money for that to happen!? The same applies in the case of miracles.

These crop of preachers constantly take from worshipers, and when there is no more left to take they bang on the pulpit, evoke “the Bible says…,” and ask people to dig deeper into their pockets. Obviously they are the only ones who know what to do with the congregants’ money. Obviously they are the only ones who need it. Obviously these preachers are the only ones who need to buy luxurious cars and live in mansions. Obviously they are the only ones who should be seduced by, and protected from the elements of nature by wearing custom-made outfits. Obviously they are the only ones that deserve to be able to afford to be pampered in spas and beauty parlors. Obviously they are the only ones who should be able to pay for their children’s education. They are, after all, (wo)men of God. Why should anyone else be able to do such things!? Why!? Especially when you don’t sacrifice your time to master the Bible and share it’s teachings with the rest of the masses. Why should the rest of society get a slice of the good life!?

Such preachers keep prospering though, and they are not shy about letting the public know just how many ways they have been “blessed.” It doesn’t seem to matter to them that worshipers in their churches continue to struggle physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.

Unfortunately, a number of the faithful members of such preachers’ churches don’t have the opportunity to watch or read the investigative pieces that expose the shenanigans of their leaders. There are also those who suspect something is amiss but are afraid to speak out against the (wo)men of God because “the Bible says…”  It doesn’t help that there are really no life-changing consequences for such preachers’ actions. Sure, there is the public shaming and ridicule, and meme-sharing on social media, but after that people move on and eventually forget.

The worst thing that happens to such preachers is that they become the running joke and their names are turned into verbs. The best case scenario is people writing pieces about business lessons that can be learnt from these strain of preachers. Yeah, the people who faithfully give their hard-earned money every month to these preachers are really curious about business lessons they can learn. Sick people who give financially in the hopes of being cured would really love to know more about these business lessons. The people who are groped, and asked for a small donation in the name of healing  would really appreciate your insight on the business lessons they can learn. Seriously, turning lemons into passion juice is good and all, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you look hard enough, you will find business lessons from a seasoned car thief too. How long will we continue to applaud and reward such behavior either overtly or covertly?

There has to be an effective way to stop these predatory preachers. Does anybody know of one!? Maybe throw the same “the Bible says…” quotes at them when they ask for a small donation in exchange for a prayer or miracle. The Bible does have a lot to say about money, healing, false prophets and deceit, after all.

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About that mediocrity…

My friends and I went into a Nairobi restaurant once. The waiter claimed that there was enough seating for all of us. Two of us were supposed to share a table with a couple who were halfway through their meal. Our other friend was directed to another table where she was expected to be the awkward third wheel. I was puzzled by this arrangement and my facial expression relayed my sentiment. “You guys can talk across the room,” the waiter said. What!? That was our cue to leave. I later find out that a number of restaurants do this and it is an accepted practice. Now, I have no problem sharing a table as long as the other already seated party is fine with it. But why split a group? If we come as group then isn’t that an obvious indicator that we expect to sit together? It’s OK to let people know that you don’t have a table for all of them or inform them about how long of a wait it will be to get a table. That’s part of good customer service. Why force a situation on people and then become rude and disrespectful when they decide to leave?

Good customer service – that is something that lacks in many places in Kenya. I went to inquire about bus tickets on another occasion. The lady at the customer service desk did not once look up from her cellphone. I was asking her questions and her responses consisted of mumbles and shrugs. She seemed more interested in whatever was on her phone screen than assisting a potential customer. I wondered whose brilliant idea it was to put such a person in a position that required them to interact with people when she clearly did not have time for that. I walked away and had an experience that was more or less the same at the next bus company I went to. Why do people act like they are doing you a favor when you are bringing your business, both current and potentially future, to them? “You just have to learn how to navigate their rudeness,” someone said. Why should I!? There are not enough hours in a day to make me want to deal with such. Even if I was going to get the bus ticket or service for free, I still wouldn’t “navigate that rudeness.” 

This behavior spills over even to unexpected places. How else would you explain the dramatically long queues at banks that have more teller windows unmanned than manned? Why go through the trouble of putting up all those fancy windows when they won’t be staffed? Let’s not forget the way in which the employees drag themselves when serving clients. This sluggish service is often punctuated by catch up sessions among the few tellers available. Woe unto you if you happen to be a victim of fraud. The bank employees will be sure to make you dance circles in their rectangular halls as you watch them take their time in figuring out your situation. I have a relative whose account was hacked and money withdrawn. He went to the bank and they proceeded to tell him how there were people who had lost much more money than he had. What that had to do with his particular case remains a mystery. He did get his money back but that was after many a visits to the bank. These multiple visits could all have been avoided if the bank actually valued its clients because then they wouldn’t have to be pushed to respond to any crises.

The guru, and perhaps even the inventor, of this brand of customer service is the government. Some government officials make you wonder exactly how they are still employed. I went to get a temporary travel pass once. For some reason the passport office that day was under a tent next to Nyayo House. One of the people behind the desk was busy reading a newspaper and the other one was drinking tea. At some point a shirt seller came along with his latest wares. The newspaper-reading official proceeded to put the shirts on the table and inspect them for quality. Meanwhile, we were all waiting in the queue. He didn’t seem perturbed by our presence neither did he make an effort to hide the fact that he was attending to the personal while on the job. None of us complained for fear of being chased away or denied travel documents. This is unfortunately a scene that is repeated in various government offices. This shouldn’t be the case though. We shouldn’t have to be cowed into being treated like non-factors and held hostage by someone’s misplaced priorities.

How can we expect change when we constantly accept mediocrity? When we entertain behaviors that stifle our progress? When we swallow the accept-and-move-on pill without once questioning what its side effects are? Or is that we have just become resigned due to decades of the same suffocating cycle of poor performance? 

I think that if we start demanding better we will get better. If we accept mediocrity then all we will get is mediocrity. If we all, or maybe a good number of us, decided that we won’t try and navigate people’s rudeness, then there will be change. If we stop frequenting restaurants manned by staff that lack people skills then the owners will be forced to either hire reasonable people or train their current staff to do better. If we stopped taking our business to establishments with employees that cannot be bothered with our presence then that will force management to rethink the quality of the people that work for them. If we stopped taking nonsense from our banks then they will eventually be forced to stop dishing out the nonsense and start treating their clients like the valuable assets that they are. It really is possible to force a behavior change. If you don’t believe me you should read Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. All it takes is a group of people to say enough is enough, realize their value as customers and demand better.

As for the government, I still haven’t figured out how to force a behavior change with that lot. That’s a mule of a different caliber. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “A government afraid of its citizens is a democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny.” Yurp…that is all I have to say about that.