A man who prompted headlines worldwide in June last year when he assaulted one of Kenya's most prominent clergymen during a protest march has astonished Christians here by publicly repenting for the violent act.In front of the congregation on July 3 at Timothy Njoya's church in Kinoo, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Patrick Shikanda Lokhotio read a speech in the Kiswahili language denouncing his past and seeking forgiveness from both God and the congregation for "beating up a man of God"—Njoya. He pledged to live henceforth as a born-again Christian.Local Christians described the event as a "St Paul-style conversion." Lokhotio was warmly applauded by those present and hugged by his victim, who forgave him months ago and asked a magistrate in Nairobi to halt criminal proceedings against Lokhotio.Lokhotio said on July 3 he had actually been converted six months ago and had been in contact with the Njoya since then.On June 10, 1999, Lokhotio repeatedly struck Njoya with a wooden club outside the Kenyan parliament as the Presbyterian clergyman led a Christians in a protest on the government's budget day. The protesters were demanding a new constitution for Kenya.Lokhotio told the congregation that he earnestly believed it was God's plan that he had to grievously injure the clergyman "for me to see the light and change my life."Newspapers around the world published photographs of Lokhotio attacking Njoya, who was taken to the Nairobi Hospital's emergency ward for treatment.Lokhotio also told the congregation on July 3 that he had parted company with an infamous squad of unemployed youths believed to be in the pay of a local politician and allegedly linked to last year's attack at the protest march. The youths have often been accused of provoking violence at political protests. During the service Lokhotio introduced six other members of the group who said they too would lead a "clean Christian life."Njoya said that Lokhotio's change of heart "shows God's miracles have worked in this church."He prayed that God would also to touch the heart of a Nairobi member of parliament whose name has been associated with the violent squad of youths.Njoya told ENI that of 159 known members of the youth squad, at least 100 had indicated last year they would visit his church. However the police had learnt of this, and many of the "potential converts" had gone into hiding to avoid questioning by the authorities. Immediately after the July 3 event, a Nairobi newspaper, the Standard, challenged Lokhotio to reveal who financed the youth squad and who commanded it. Lokhotio refused to reveal the details. Njoya told ENI that that he understood Lokhotio's caution as he did not have the means to protect himself against legal action if he gave out information about the squad.

Copyright © 2000 ENI.Coverage of Njoya's beating was widespread, and continues to be referenced. Articles have appeared in Nairobi's The Nation (which has had several articles), Anglican Communion News Service, New Internationalist, and Time. Newsroom, an international-focused religion news service, ran an article about devil worship in Kenya in which Njoya was quoted as saying there's no such thing as the devil.