Many of these women are influenced by Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, who serves in Kenya’s Parliament. Wanjiru, who is head of the Nairobi-based Jesus is Alive Ministries, was the first women to be ordained a bishop in Kenya. Also influential on a more unofficial basis is Teresa Wairimu, a well-known evangelist, teacher and healer who heads Faith Evangelistic Ministries. She has increasingly laced her sermons and “prophetic utterances” with social and political messages. For instance, Wairimu has recently attacked tribal and ethnic clashes and corruption during elections.
Wairimu and other women “uses their public speaking [encouraged] in Pentecostalism to insert themselves in the public sphere,” Parsitau added. She noted that these female leaders and their women followers becoming involved in politics are often single and often face discrimination by male politicians.
Wairimu and Wanjiru have mentored other women who take a similar approach. These women have even taken to the streets to engage in protests. These Pentecostal women have also formed political networks, which include men, that are “transferrring the spirit to the public sphere,” Parsitau said.
Richard Cimino is the founder and editor of Religion Watch, a newsletter monitoring trends in contemporary religion. Since January 2008, Religion Watch is published by Religioscope Institute. Website: www.religionwatch.com.