Festo Habakkuk Olang was the first African head honcho of the Anglican Church of Kenyan. He led it for 10 years to 1980, in between bringing up his brood of 12.
Olang, who spoke fluent Luhya and Luo was one of two surviving sons of his mother Emisiko Sambaya, the senior of four wives.
His journey into being clergy was greatly influenced by his headmaster at Maseno School, the legendary Edward Carey Francis, before he left his mark at Alliance High School where Olang was later admitted in 1931.
The 16-year-old had influential classmates, including first Finance minister James Gichuru.
At the urging of Rev Martyn Capon, he left teaching 13 years later to pursue priesthood when he joined St Paul’s Divinity School in Limuru, where Rev Capon was based, according to the Dictionary of Christian Biography.
He was ordained deacon in 1945 before winning a British Council Scholarship to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, England, where he studied the Holy Spirit and Church Administration in 1948. Olang returned to Kenya and was ordained as a priest in 1950.
Two years later, he became the first rural dean for Central Kenya and the vicar of Bunyore in 1954.
History was made the following year when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, consecrated Olang and Obadiah Kariuki as the first pair of assistant bishops in Kenya.
The event was held at Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda that March. Olang was in charge of Western Kenya and five years later, he was nominated bishop of Maseno Diocese.
For his fluency in Dholuo and Luhya, Olang was instrumental in translating the Bible, Prayer Book and hymn books in both languages.
But the height of his career was achieved when he trounced Kariuki to head what became the Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK) when Anglican churches in Kenya and Tanzania were split in two provinces.
Olang replaced the ageing Archbishop Leonard Beecher, who presided over the ceremony at All Saint’s Cathedral on August 3, 1970.
The non-confrontational Olang, also the Bishop of Nairobi, was chosen over the abrasive Kariuki.
Olang was instrumental in fashioning a constitution for the Anglican Church alone. He served as Bishop-in-Ordinary of Kenya’s military, besides presiding over all State functions.
He expanded parishes, helped built schools and hospitals as he recounts in his 1991 biography.
Festo Olang, the grandpa to 45 children and 24 great grandkids succumbed to heart attack aged 90 in Nairobi on February 3, 2004.