Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kiva, Opus Dei, Strathmore: Njonjo Ndehi Continues to Cheerlead for Kiva While Talking Homophobic and Misogynistic Trash Online

And since Njonjo Ndehi has chosen to respond to my posting yesterday featuring his homophobic (and Opus Dei-inspired) defense of Kiva's choice to partner with Opus Dei-founded Strathmore University in Kenya, I fear I have to try readers' patience today with yet another posting on this topic. Here's one of three comments Mr. Ndehi left in response to my posting yesterday:

Why don't you feed the hungry in your country and leave us alone? While you're at it, why don't you tell your politicians that their deficit reduction madness is the cause of hunger in your country?

In another response to my posting about the Kiva-Strathmore story this past weekend, which he's chosen to anonymize, posting as Guest, he states:

In most Muslim countries, pork and booze are illegal. In western countries, it's illegal to slaughter cattle or chicken in your backyard. Please respect Kenyan law and democracy.

As Tony Adams notes in a comment here yesterday, Mr. Ndehi doesn't confine his disdain to homosexuals (that is, to gay men, who are the almost exclusive focus of his hostility commentary about homosexuality all over the place on the Internet, though he also sees lesbians as women challenging male authority): Tony notes that at his Twitter site, Mr. Ndehi has tweeted,

I love submissive African chics like my wife.

There's a wealth of material at many Internet sites documenting Mr. Ndehi's views about women--that they have their place, and this place is in submission to men; that women's equality threatens male supremacy; that liberated women rob men of masculinity; that you can "always train her on how to satisfy you"; that women who express open disagreement with him at Twitter are "rude c---ts," one of his recurring sophomoric taunts; and on and on. Two days ago, he tweeted the following: 

Dating a chic and applying for a bank loan is the same except that banks aren't hypocritical and just ask for proof of income.

Good governments should be, Mr. Ndehi informs us, like good fathers: "kind but harsh."

I think we can safely conclude (the claim is not hard at all to document, because he helpfully runs his mouth with homophobic and misogynistic eructations all over the place online) that Mr. Ndehi is as skeptical about (as hostile to, that is to say) the rights of women as he is about the rights of LGBTI people--and this is not beside the point, as we discuss Kiva's choice to ally with Opus Dei via Strathmore, since Opus Dei has a well-documented and truly troubling track record vis-a-vis both gay rights and women's rights.

This is important information for Kiva to know. It's important information for Kiva to have considered when it chose to ally itself with an Opus Dei institution, since none of this information is really hidden or obscure. It's easy to ascertain, and even a superficial survey of the literature about Opus Dei for many years now discloses this information--so that Kiva can hardly credibly claim not to have known that Opus Dei is hostile to the rights of both gays and women when it sealed its deal with the Opus Dei university Strathmore.

As I said yesterday, with friends like the Opus Dei-educated Mr. Ndehi leading the cheerleading for Kiva and its Strathmore partnership, Kiva hardly needs enemies.  

But there's more, and this is really troubling, as one thinks through Kiva's insistence that it supports the rights of LGBTI people, while hopping into bed with Opus Dei: as Mike McShea notes in a posting at his This Cultural Christian site yesterday, there's also a clear trail online showing Mr. Ndehi engaging in his gay slur commentary in a call-response pattern with the truly vile Ugandan "Kill the Gays" pastor Martin Ssempa. As Zambian Anglican priest Kapya Kaoma has noted

Ssempa is one of the key architects of the antigay bill and persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. He made global news when he published the names of LGBT people in the local press and destroyed condoms to promote abstinence-only programs in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

As Kaoma also clearly documents in his very important report The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa, Ssempa has close ties to leading members of the U.S. religious right, who have helped organize and spearhead the attacks on LGBT citizens of Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. 

By getting into bed with Opus Dei via Strathmore, Kiva gets into bed with Njonjo Ndehi and Martin Ssempa, and in turn, it gets into bed with the big players within the American religious right (and here) who are stirring anti-gay rhetoric and anti-gay hatred in Africa. Kiva has gotten into bed with some of the most ignoble folks on the planet, that is to say, when it comes to issues of women's and LGBTI rights.

So let's unpack the argument Martin "Kill the Gays" Ssempa's friend Njonjo "Fucking Faggots" Ndehi keeps presenting in his response to critics of Kiva's decision to get into bed with Opus Dei via Strathmore:

He states repeatedly that he wants "homosexuals" and "homosexual sympathizers" out: out of Africa. We don't need your money. We don't want you. "Leave us alone," he says. Feed your own damned hungry. 

On the face of it, these taunts would appear to be a challenge to Kiva itself to get out of Africa, since Kiva is in Kenya and other African countries to channel assistance to needy people from Kiva contributors around the world. And yet, astonishingly and with a total abandonment of fundamental logic, Mr. Ndehi is presenting his argument as a defense of Kiva's decision to partner with the Opus Dei university Strathmore.

He appears to think that Kiva can somehow easily and surgically disengage itself from the gays and anyone who supports women's rights, as it dispenses goodies to him and other African men who like their women submissive and their gays bashed. His argument amounts to, "We'll take your assistance as long as the gays and liberal Westerners who believe women should have equality with men are out of the picture, thank you very much."

But he can hardly be totally anti-Western "interference" in Africa, can he, when he tells us he went to an Opus Dei school that is "by far the best high school in the world" . . . and when Opus Dei was founded by a Spanish priest and Opus Dei schools in Africa have historically been dominated by European headmasters and faculty? As Robert Hutchison tells us in this Guardian article, the British government long helped subvent Opus Dei schools in Kenya, even helping to pay their headmasters' salaries.

Mr. Ndehi does not live in a pure African bubble. He wasn't educated in such a bubble. In working for a Swiss firm, Ringier,* in Nairobi, he's firmly entrenched in the world of high finance and job-making that flows out of Europe to Africa. (How does Ringier feel about having an employee running his mouth online constantly, by the way, about "fucking faggots" and "rude c---ts" and how he loves his "chics" submissive?)

Or maybe the world of internet technology in which Mr. Ndhei (and many of Kiva's founding figures and key supporters) move is some brave new world I simply don't understand, in which young men are permitted to preen their macho feathers with impunity, as they beat up on women and gay folks. A new international cowboy culture, as it were, in the worst sense of that word and with apologies to real cowboys . . . . An international cowboy culture in which the same heterosexist men who rule everything else rule the technological sector, and bash women and gays to demonstrate to the world their phallic superiority . . . .

None of us lives in a bubble anywhere in the world. When human rights are disrespected or violated anywhere in the world, we all have a vested interest in helping to defend those whose rights are being trampled on, since, as Dr. King puts the point eloquently, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

If any nation in the world decides to round up its Jewish population and herd those citizens to crematoria, the rest of the civilized world has a vested interest in addressing that situation, since no nation lives in a bubble that permits that nation to violate the basic human rights of particular minority groups--and the defense of human rights takes precedence over laws and customs anywhere in the world that enshrine outright, malicious prejudice against any targeted minority group anywhere in the world.

I grew up in the American South during the period in which integration took place. I heard from white Southern lips lots of arguments like the specious, illogical ones Mr. Ndehi has been offering us in his comments on my blog site: Get the hell out of our business, world! It's our business, they're our laws. Who are you to tell us how to run our states? We have our longstanding traditions and customs, and they're backed by the bible, which not only accepts but blesses slavery. 

Butt out. Find some poor folks elsewhere to help. We don't need you. We don't want you. 

These are precisely the arguments Mr. Ndehi now wants to offer the rest of the world about customs and laws that target LGBTI people and women within his own culture, within the specious bubble culture he imagines he inhabits while he's thickly connected to the rest of the human community. They're illogical arguments that don't fly when issues of basic human rights are at stake, and it's a pity Mr. Ndehi's education in that Opus Dei high school that was "by far the best high school in the world" didn't teach him to understand these basic matters of logic and human rights.

I'll say it again: Kiva got itself into bed with some exceptionally unsavory characters after it chose to partner with Opus Dei via Strathmore. How Kiva imagines it can convince people it stands on the side of the human rights of LGBTI individuals and women while it has Njonjo "Fucking Faggots" Ndehi as its cheerleader is opaque to me.

P.S. I'm also grateful to Tony Adams for pointing out the Martin Ssempa-Njonjo Ndehi link.

P.P.S. My apologies to readers for the crude language I'm reporting here. As I say, I'm reporting. It's not language with which I myself am comfortable, or language I've ever used. I grew up in a family in which, quite literally, the F- word wasn't even on the radar screen. I didn't hear the word until I was in high school, and it was plain to me that if I dropped it in conversation in my family's circle I'd likely have received a strong punishment. The C- word? Never, ever heard it among family or friends; never heard it until I was an adult. WWJD: the strongly evangelical culture in which I grew up was insistent  Jesus most certainly wouldn't use dirty words or foul language, and that rule of thumb was drilled into me as a child and hasn't ever really gotten washed out of my system, for weal or woe.

*Please see Mr. Ndehi's comment to me in the discussion thread, telling me that the Njonjo Ndehi who works for Ringier is his cousin. 

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