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Not even death has stopped Archbishop David Gitari from speaking his mind

By Kiundu waweru | October 13th 2014 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Senior priests, freinds and family memebers of the late Archbishop David Gitari when they unvailed the cross at his burial site within his Difathas village home

In September last year, Kenya and the world mourned the passing of Archbishop David Gitari after a short illness.

Having retired to a quiet life in 2002, Gitari's death aroused memories of his fearless opinion of politicians and governments of the day.

And though physically gone, the man of God lives on in his just (posthumously) released autobiography, "Troubled But Not Destroyed".

In the book, Gitari revisits his life from family background through education to being appointed the third archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya in 1997.

But apart from the big role he played in the growth of the Church, readers will be fascinated by his vivid narrations of encounters with Kenyan leaders. Indeed, in chapter four, he recollects a brush with the late Jomo Kenyatta's Government that ushered him into the national limelight.

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It was in 1975, after the death of JM Kariuki. Gitari had been seconded by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) to give six live talks at KBC, then Voice of Kenya (VoK), on its "Lift Your Hearts" programme.

He based the talks on the first stanza of the national anthem. After the fourth talk, he was summoned to the VoK headquarters.

"Your sermons this week are very disturbing,” one of the seven men grilling him said. "Your reference to Cain killing his brother Abel may make listeners assume you are referring to JM Kariuki's assassination."

Gitari responded, "If my sermons were disturbing, then they had served their purpose as the gospel of Jesus Christ is very disturbing, especially for sinners."

A PRAYER

After Kenyatta's death, Gitari started off in Moi's good books. As NCCK chairman, he was the only church leader asked to say a prayer at the swearing in of Daniel arap Moi as the second President of the nation. It was Moi who came up with the 'Nyayo philosophy' which preached love, peace and unity.

Gitari writes in detail about his concern regarding the political Nyayo philosophy, which he gave biblical contexts. In the late 1980s, Gitari became fodder for the media inspired by his sermons, which openly criticised President Moi on the secret ballot, leading to a long-drawn battle.

The President would bring the debate to an end in a speech in which he said, "Let the bishop speak." A local daily carried a banner headline with the same words, and in 1988, Gitari published a book titled likewise.

In his lifetime, many scholars studied and published works on his religious and political stand, something he notes in the introduction of the autobiography.

He writes, "No one writing my story can get all the facts correct except me. I wanted to write my own story so that future biographers could use it as an important resource in their research about my life."

He kept a daily occurrence book since 1988, which by 2012 grew to 25 volumes each with 576 pages. The captured memories have informed the book, which he started writing in 2002, but it took a decade as he wanted to study the Mwai Kibaki presidency. He has a chapter on this.

The book will be launched on October 16 at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.


Archbishop David Gitari KBC Voice of Kenya
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