Think of Christ in the African framework


Think of Christ in the African framework.

A ring-a-ring-a-roses,

A pocket full of posies.

A tissue, a tissue,

We all fall down.

This rhyme was a relic of London’s Great Plague of around the 1660s. In September 1665, George Viccars, a tailor in the village of Eyam, Derbyshire, received a bale of clothes from London to make clothes orders for Wake Weeks (a religious festival). But this consignment had disease-ridden fleas that infected him as he dried the clothes. He died of the plague. As the plague killed more villagers, Eyam’s newly appointed rector, William Mompesson, proposed to quarantine the village and prevent the plague from spreading to the nearby towns. This was a difficult ask. But with the help of his predecessor, Thomas Stanley, they persuaded his parishioners to cordon off Eyam, with no one allowed in or out. The Earl of Derbyshire and people from neighbouring villages sent them food and supplies until the plague stopped on 1st November 1666. The cordon had worked. But 260 villagers out of between 350 and 800 died. Yet Mompesson’s action and the courage of his parishioners saved thousands more.

    Centuries on, the people of Eyam still tell this story well, in this rhyme. The “ring a ring” was the hedge that cordoned their village. “Roses” were the symptoms, red spots on the infected people. The “pocket and posies” represented the masks worn to prevent the spread. And a tissue, a tissue related to the sneezing by the victims before falling dead. This rhyme tells of people who put themselves and their families in mortal danger, risking life and limb to save others, by locking themselves with the plague. We only see such extravagant love in Christ and in those Christ sends to his mission: “As the Father sent me, so send I you” (John 20:21).

      Today, the church in Africa demands theological contributions that will not only engage our local contexts but echo into the global church. We must walk in the example of the people of Eyam. Africa needs “a theology that addresses the setting in which it is produced” (Walls 1996, 9). This is our church, standing at a crossroads of aggressive religions and ideologies. It conducts its mission in a multi-faith context, failing governments, insecurities, and the devastating effects of climate change. For a long time, observed Mamdani (2017), the West developed theories that the world applied.[1] This applied to theology. We will remain mimics in theology until we rethink our aspirations. We must not just aim higher but aim differently and theorize and engage our realities.

       I concur with Bediako (2000) and Walls (2002, 222), that the theological enterprise of the 21st century is parallel in scope and extent to that of Christians in the Greek world in the third century and beyond.[2]  Because the African church makes up the theological frontiers of the coming centuries, our people crisscross the frontier between the empirical and the spiritual worlds daily. It is our calling, therefore, to think of Christ in the African cultural framework.

Theologizing our context is not about the political correctness of the post-modernist, affirming each local Christian discourse as valid. Neither is it about elevating context above Scripture. Rather, it is aspiring for the fullness of Christ’s stature that is achievable only when cultures come together in one body. Our theological activity is not a matter of indifference to the West but the health of the whole body to which we all belong.

       Mention Creation and Fall, Life Together, Letters and Papers from Prison, and Cost of Discipleship, and we immediately recognize them as innovative theological works by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We accept all these works that emerged from a specific European experience as contributions to Christianity. In the same way, what we produce as we allow Scripture to engage African experiences will belong to and benefit the worldwide church.

       Let us be encouraged to pursue Bible-based, Christ-centred, and Spirit-led theologies that take seriously our dynamic experiences. We can turn our challenges into erudite theologies and, by God’s grace, make our authentic African contribution to the global church.

        During my study, I drew helpful data and methods of disseminating knowledge from the African Orature; these can work for the church. In the danger of devouring locusts of 1918 and 1935, my Luo community turned locusts into protein. Their coping with changes is encapsulated in this children’s song done through orature, thus:


Wang’ni dede biro, wang’ni iyieke ka bel.

Wang’ni osodo biro, wang’ni iyieke ka bel.

Dede jo rundre, dede jo rundre a runda.

Dede jo rundre, dede jo rundre a runda.


When the dede (locusts) comes again,

We will sift them like millet.

When osodo (locust) comes again,

We will sift them like millet.

All: Locust will spin, locust will spin…locust will spin.


Canon Francis Omondi (Ph. D).

[1] Mahmood Mamdani, 8th Thabo Mbeki Lecture at UNISA, May 2017.

[2] Walls, Andrew F., 1996, The missionary movement in Christian history: Studies in the transmission of faith, Orbis Books, Maryknoll.

Micere Mugo Framed in the Image of Miriam, the Prophet:

Micere Mugo Framed in the Image of Miriam, the Prophet:

Faced with the despotic rule that replaced the colonial cruelty of her youth, Prof. Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo took her stand and stood her ground and, like the biblical Miriam, spoke truth to power.

By Francis Omondi

No one, in my view, personified the Utu philosophy as Prof. Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo did.  She made this her life’s relentless pursuit. Although she asserted that she was not a loser, and acknowledged that she was not always a winner, she finally lost to cancer. But the irony in this is that, although dead, Mĩcere Mũgo still speaks to us. She speaks with a forked tongue, words of sorrow and words of joyful pride.

For the many who loved and embraced her, the many whom she embraced and whose lives she impacted, Mĩcere’s death speaks pain. A pain felt deep in the family, the academic fraternity, and in the social activism circles across the world.

It is the neverness that is so painful. Never again to be here with us – never to sit with us at the table, never to travel with us, never to laugh with us, never to cry with us, never to embrace us, never to sing, or read poetry with us. All the rest of our lives, we must live without her. Only our death can stop the pain of her death.

Yet we must learn to live as faithfully and as authentically with her gone, as we had tried to with her present.

And what does that mean?

It will take a long time to learn.

It means not forgetting her.

It means speaking of her.

It means reading her poetry and acting her plays.

This is remembering her.

We are to hold the past in remembrance and not let it slide away. Because all around us are her things, her clothes, her books, her garden, her works, her words and her ideas.

We are to resist amnesia and live up to her ideals in Utu.

This is remembrance.

I parallel Mwalimu Mĩcere’s story to Miriam’s in the Exodus 2 passage. And to honour her memory, I will look at the Exodus narrative from a feminist perspective. I am indebted to Prof Alan Boesak (2017) whose ideas I have adopted in interpreting the biblical text… his works are in “The riverbank, the seashore and the wilderness, Miriam, liberation, and prophetic witness against the empire.”  

The story of Exodus, like other biblical narratives, is written to be read in multiple ways, allowing for multiple interpretations, and so, hinders fundamentalists from weaponising the biblical texts. It also avoids imperialistic designs to impose a single view in this plural world, where we ought to be aware of the other. The Hebrew Bible and feminist scholar Phyllis Trible traces the life of Miriam’s prophetic tradition of faithful resistance against empire to the contest against pharaonic patriarchal power and privilege.

Through Miriam, we see God beginning the act of the exodus with the women. It is to these women of faithfulness, courage, and defiant obedience that the freedom of the people is  first entrusted. The first two chapters of the book of Exodus articulated this fact.  So exodus from Egypt was initiated by women who acted in faith.  A faith anchored in trust,  not sight. There seems to be no expectation that God would intervene. For God is not even mentioned in these two chapters of the exodus story.

We first meet Miriam as a protector of her brother on the riverbank. Then as a prophet and leader after the deliverance at the Red Sea. And finally, as a prophetic challenger to power in the wilderness. It is in comparison to these three scenarios that I hope to speak about the life of Mwalimu Mĩcere Mũgo.

First, Miriam on the riverbank (Exodus 2:1-8)

When Moses is born, Miriam’s mother Jochebed takes a risky but courageous initiative. She weaves a basket, puts the baby boy in it, places it among the reeds close to the riverbank, then tasks the young Miriam to stand guard.

Exodus 2:4 records that Miriam is standing “at a distance” at the river bank. According to the Dutch Hebrew Bible scholar Jopie Siebert-Hommes, the verb translated as “distance” means “far away”, and can also have two other meanings, which are: “to take one’s stand” and “to stand one’s ground”.

So, on the riverbank, Miriam is “standing her ground”, waiting in anticipation. She is aware of her own limitations under the circumstances.

When Pharoah’s daughter appears, for Miriam, there is no rational expectation of a “motherly” response from one seen as a representative of the Egyptian empire.

This passage is crowded with uncertainties. It offers no perspective on Miriam’s frame of mind. What if it had not been Pharaoh’s daughter? I mean, what if it had been men acting in blind obedience to the Pharaoh’s killing instructions? And what if the Pharaoh’s daughter was in one mind with her father?

Despite facing uncertainty, Miriam’s firmness and resolve make her remarkable. Miriam was not sure what would happen to her brother. But what stands out here is her readiness to stand her ground and face a dangerous situation. If something happened to the child, it would not be for lack of courage or action on her part.  And as the opportunity presented for Miriam to act, her quick-witted response to Pharaoh’s daughter suggests not only spiritual maturity, but political savviness as well.

So, Miriam stands firm in the prophetic tradition begun by Siphrah and Puah. It is a prophetic engagement with the empire (patriarchy) no less courageous and faithful than the actions of the midwives.

Mwalimu Mĩcere’s struggle against colonialism, despotic government and her works advocating for human dignity began early in her life. In the anthology Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo: Making Life Sing in Pursuit of Utu edited by Ndirangu Wachanga, she recalls:

One Saturday afternoon, I was called from my dormitory and told that I had family guests. On going out to meet them, I was elated to find out that it was my mother, Grace Njeri, and her younger sister Tata (Aunty) Joyce, who was a teacher in Gaturi, Mũrang’a. But their gloomy faces cut down my excitement. After embracing, my mother told me to go back into the dormitory and put on my uniform because they wanted to take me to Boma, the name we knew Embu town by.

It all didn’t make sense, but on the way to Boma, they informed me that my father had been jailed and when they had visited him in jail earlier, he had asked for me. [At the time, my two elder sisters were miles away in Gatigũrũ boarding school, Mũgoiri, Mũrang’a.]

Apparently, my father had been accused of double-dealing with the government and assisting Mau Mau adherents by refusing to torture villagers and their families to force them to confess their linkages to the Mau Mau fighters. He had been sacked as the chief presiding over Mwea Division.

I remember speaking with my father from outside Embu jail, separated by what seemed unending rows of barbed wire. His hands were shackled and there were two guards on either side, plus many more swarming all over the place, all armed to the teeth.

I was scared to death. We had to shout out conversation through the rolls of wire. At first, I was just in shock and tongue-tied, but when the visit ended and the askaris (guards) escorted him back (I suppose to his cell), I simply broke down into tears and cried for so long that my mother and aunt were still begging me to dry my eyes as I waved them goodbye after they took me back to school.

While a young Miriam is plunged into resistance against Pharaoh, 12-year-old Mĩcere encounters the colonial cruelty of the British against the Mau Mau during this visit. From her parents and community she learns a sense of humaneness, Utu, as the antidote to colonial inhumanity.

Mĩcere later articulates her understanding of Utu in the words of her teacher, Prof John Mbiti: “I am because we are and since we are, therefore, I am”, which is the same as Ubuntu. Yet the sense of community and belonging that Mĩcere advocates is in what it means to be human, deeply rooted in African culture. Prof Mũgo took her stand in pursuit of the Utu philosophy:

I had to remind myself that part of the liberation process was not just to create a better world, but also to create better people of ourselves. [That involved] learning to humanise ourselves and be humane in the way we articulate our thoughts and treat others. I also learnt the difference between systems and institutions, and agents functioning in them. The person who oppresses you as an agent of an oppressive system is being dehumanised. Oppressive systems dehumanise their own agents as much as they seek to dehumanise those who resist oppression.

Mĩcere likened the exclusion of women to the cruelty of colonialism, and so, fought for women to have equal opportunities. This she learnt from her parents, who had no gender partiality. They, the five girls, were sent to school when it was not fashionable to send girls to school. And when they excelled, their father would quip, ‘Well done, my boys!’ Her mother would rebuke men who would ask: Gũtirĩ andũ gũkũ? Are there no people here?

Mĩcere adopted Rhoda Reddick’s definition of feminism articulated thus:

“Being aware of the structures and systems of injustices that held back women, that oppressed women … be they religion, cultural, educational and tradition, be prepared to do something about it, and to disentangle them. The greatest enemies of feminism are the women themselves who are purveyors of patriarchy.”

Mĩcere articulates her position in her poem To Be a Feminist Is:

For me, to be a feminist is

to be the mother of my daughters

it is to be the daughter of my mother,

it is to be more than a survivor,

it is to be a creator,

it is to be a woman.

Nothing explains her vision for women better than her poem: Ta imaaaagini!

Ta imagini that

you and I

and all the women

of this world

stood hand in hand

marched side by side,


dividing borders


connecting bridges


binding chains


delinkable links,

across the nations

across the continents!

So, Mĩcere speaks to us that we must act as feminists. It is clear that her feminist advocacy was undergirded by this Utu philosophy. We are being called to take our stand for a humanised humanity. We become human when we defy the impetus to dehumanise others.

Second, Miriam at the seashore

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Exodus 15:20

And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he threw into the sea. Exodus 15:21

This is after the people of Israel walked through the sea ‘on dry land’, leaving the Egyptian armies ‘dead on the seashore’ and the mighty empire defeated (Exodus 14:30). Exodus 15 opens with the song of Moses.

Then in verses 20 and 21, Miriam the prophet took a tambourine in her hand, opened her mouth in song and led the people in a dance of praise. Benno Jacob ranks this song as the oldest text available concerning the exodus. It is the oldest poem in the Hebrew Bible reflecting the mood of an exodus experience.

Miriam stamped her position as the people’s prophet. While Moses acted as an individual, Miriam turns her song into a congregational hymn. For on Miriam’s lips, it became a song of praise and celebration for the whole people.

Miriam’s radical inclusion of all the people, not just the women, proved her to be a prophet of God from among the people, guiding them in the glorification and the ownership of the mighty acts of God. Thus, God’s people owned their agency in their liberation.

Analysing Miriam’s action, Prof Allan Boesak observes “ … a radical inclusivity of worship at work here, and a radical overturning of the patriarchal paradigm. It is also a radical embracing of the responsibilities that come with freedom. Miriam is the people’s prophet.”

Mĩcere was a prophet in this Miriamic tradition. As a poet, a playwright and an intellectual, she included outsiders through orature and made knowledge creation a communal affair.

Mĩcere honoured the tradition of “African orature”. A tradition, she said, was about not speaking to yourself but having a conversation and making sure that your audience is following and engaging. In “African orature”, Prof. Mũgo argued, telling an autobiographical story is not about telling “my story” but about telling “our story”. Thus, a “personal” narrative becomes a “public” narrative.

Although she was a professor of literature, Mĩcere realised the limits of written literature in the African context. Oral literature had a similar shortcoming, one of creating elitist academics, detached from their peoples’ lived experience.

Mĩcere often cited James Baldwin. Intellectuals used their power to speak against the challenges in their society. Mĩcere still questions us in her poem…. “Intellectual or Imposter?” Why are our intellectuals so aloof from their communities’ challenges?

Serving as the dean of the Faculty of Arts between 1978 and 1982 required courage as many opposed her election for being a woman. As Mũgo remembers,

We were given to understand that the government ordered the university registrar to nullify the elections immediately, which he did, even though he had been the election’s returning officer and had publicly announced my victory. He issued an official bulletin announcing that he had appointed the defeated candidate to serve as Acting Dean until further notice. The activists issued a counterstatement, with my consent, asserting that I was the elected Dean and would not step down. The CID [Criminal Investigation Department] police swung into action and threatened me with arrest if I did not step down. At times, they would coax me to resign, advising me that my activism was not befitting of a respectable woman.

Going beyond the privileges of office, Mĩcere broadened issues of concern beyond pedagogy, to include culture in development. For her, the ownership of knowledge, its production, dissemination, and custodianship were to be seen through the lens of Utu/Ubuntu.

Such education would be transformative since knowledge and scholarship can either be colonising or conscientizing, alienating or humanising, enslaving or liberating; therefore, creating new human beings with the agency to transform life and the world for the better.

Mĩcere refuted the false myth of dominating, colonising and imperialist cultures to monopolise knowledge, a position that justified the dehumanisation of the conquered, the attempted erasure of other knowledges, heritages and, ultimately, entire cultures.

Third and final, Miriam in the wilderness

The wilderness becomes the place for revelation of Miriam’s prophetic calling. To the people of Israel, the wilderness is more than just a place of wandering; it is the ‘wilds of the wildernesses’.

Phyllis Trible is right to note that uncertainties, complaints, confusions, and conflict make Israel’s wilderness experience wild. The frequent rebellion causes angst among the people. Yet, amidst this muddle, Miriam’s story sparkles.

So, in Numbers 12:2, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses: “Has the LORD only spoken to Moses? Has he not spoken also through us?’

Miriam’s question goes to the root of the matter.

First, Moses was increasingly becoming autocratic and unpopular with the people. Miriam’s speaking “against Moses”, Naomi Graetz claims, occurs within the broader context of the people’s rebellion. Miriam joins those who speak against the Mosaic authority in the recurring and intensifying rebellions narrated in Numbers 11, 12, 14, 16 and 20, beginning with the grumblings about food.

It is clear that Miriam’s act comes as a crucial intervention in the rebellion because she introduces the genuine issues of the people’s participation in their liberation, the quality and integrity of leadership and the questions of shared power and authority. She raises these issues because she had shown leadership before, at the seashore. Her leadership gave legitimacy to the radical inclusion of all God’s people in God’s acts of liberation.

Second, Miriam’s critical question also exposes a basic fault line in the rebellion: The nostalgic yearning for Egypt, the longing for the non-existent kindness of the oppressor, the desire to return to the imagined safety of Egypt instead of facing the hardships that come with freedom.

As a prophet (Exodus 15:20), Miriam is now re-asserting herself in her calling by inserting herself into the rebellion while also correcting the rebellion from its flawed position (romanticising Egypt and anger about bodily comforts) to the fundamental revolutionary transformation of leadership and the theological integrity of the god they worshipped.

Mĩcere, like Miriam, articulated a question raised by all oppressed people: their challenge to the empires, invaders, and colonisers everywhere who seek justification for their imperial designs, if possible, by using the Bible.

As the dream of a prosperous Kenya after independence from the British became a nightmare, beginning in the 1970s with the rule of President Kenyatta and going into the 1980s under the regime of President Moi, the shift from white colonialists to black oligarchy catapulted the prophetic voice of the past back to the scene.

Mĩcere called them out through plays like The Trial of Dedan Kimathi, co-written with Ngugi wa Thiongó and performed at the Kenya National Theatre. Mũgo and Thiong’o spoke truth to power. As a result, they were jailed for inciting people to rebel against their government.

“Has the LORD spoken only to Moses?”

We must understand Miriam’s question to be a prophetic and theological challenge. They were not words uttered out of jealousy, slander, or arrogance, but prophetic truth spoken to power. Miriam questions not only the channel of God’s voice, but also the character of Israel’s god; who is this god Moses claims to be on his side, who gives him sole authority, who punishes and strikes and kills at the slightest sign of challenge and protest?

This god appears different from the one Miriam had experienced at the riverbank. The one the defiant midwives had trusted. A god who rises in outrage against the violence and death-worshipping power of the empire, the god Miriam had proclaimed at the seashore, in contrast with the God of Moses, a vengeful, frightening mirror image of the gods of Egypt who know only domination, submission and death.

Miriam speaks prophetic truth to power, and it is so serious that Yahweh intervenes directly in defence of Moses. She knew how God showed a fierce partiality for Moses and male leadership in Israel with the brutal suppression of a rebellion over food. And yet, like her foremothers in Egypt, despite the risks, she speaks.

By refusing the privileges of her class, Mĩcere committed class suicide. She recounted when the Moi government offered her properties or positions:

“At one point, the government offered me land up there in Naromoru, about 50 acres. I was actually called to go to [Minister of Lands and Settlement] Mr [Nicholas] Biwott’s office in order to be given this gift from President Moi. While at the office, I told Mr Biwott, ‘Thank you very much. I really appreciate it, but please can you give this piece of land to some of the landless people, especially the former Mau Mau fighters?’

The next thing I knew was that I was being called in for questioning at the police station. ‘Look,’ interrogators yelled, ‘You were offered this piece of land by the president, and you were very rude, and you are now trying to tell him who to give it to. Who do you think you are?’

During the interrogation, if I did not write what they wanted me to, I remember a number of times they would hold my head and bash it on the table. Many times, I would go blank. Later, during hospitalisation in London, I was to discover that a minor strike I had been diagnosed with had come from these bashings. But I recovered sufficiently from the ordeal.”

In choosing a “people’s path” to promote the interests of the masses rather than the elite, Mũgo had become reprehensibly dangerous in the eyes of the elite and the state.

Exiled for speaking, Miriam is banished outside the camp. Although both Aaron and Miriam questioned Moses, only Miriam was punished. Naomi Graetz raises the question, “Why was Miriam punished and not Aaron?”

It is because Miriam takes the initiative, providing leadership, and it is not an easily forgivable sin. Miriam is neither terrorised nor cowed into submission.

Although Mĩcere had not fully recovered from the minor stroke suffered during her tortures, she fled the country with her two young daughters, eight-year-old Mumbi and six-year-old Njeri, to avoid detention.

Mĩcere still speaks to us in the words of her address to the Riara University students in 2016: “If you have chosen the path of struggle, you must have the courage to build a new home wherever your path leads. Don’t romanticise home; you must have the courage to make new homes and new roots.”

Our sister Mĩcere Gĩthae Mũgo has now travelled away from this world to her new home. As a priest, for the last ten years we prayed together, shared scriptures, and had spiritual discourse. She often said: “Who am I, to say there is no God.” We came to agree that Utu and the dignity of all humanity are not incompatible with Christ’s characteristics and teaching.

Wade in the waters

Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children

Wade in the water

God’s gonna trouble the water

(An African American Jubilee Spiritual Song (1901) – Text adapted from the sermon preached by Canon Francis Omondi during the Mĩcere Mũgo memorial service at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, 15 August 2023.)

Read more at: The Elephant – Explaining Society to the People.




[1] Prof Alan Boesak (2017)  “The riverbank, the seashore and the wilderness, Miriam, liberation, and prophetic witness against the empire.”

[2] Graetz, N., 2001, ‘Did Miriam talk too much?’, in A. Brenner (ed.), A feminist companion to exodus to Deuteronomy, pp. 231–242, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

[3] Jacob, B., 1992, The second book of the bible, exodus, transl. W. Jacob, KTAV Publishing House, Hoboken NJ

[4] Siebert-Hommes, J., [1994] 2001, ‘But if she be a daughter … She may live’, in A. Brenner (ed.), A feminist companion to exodus to Deuteronomy, pp. 62–74, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

[5] Trible, P., 2001, ‘Bringing Miriam out of the shadows’, in A. Brenner (ed.), A feminist companion to exodus and Deuteronomy, pp. 166–186, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield.

[6] Wachanga Ndirangu (ed). 2022, Micere Githae Mugo, Making Life Sing in Pursuit of Utu. Ibadan Nigeria. Bookcraft.

THE PRIMATES’ SQUABBLES: Same sex tiff dividing the Anglican Communion

THE PRIMATES’ SQUABBLES: Same sex tiff dividing the Anglican Communion

By Canon Francis Omondi, PhD.[1]

Did the Archbishops have to squabble? Anglican primates are engaged in a public spar. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of Uganda, Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, differ on the position of the Anglican Communion’s on same sex relations.  The primates’ tracasserie (Fr.), has been public, tense, and strains the bonds holding the Communion together.

In a public statement on May 29th, 2023, Archbishop Mugalu declared his, and the Church of Uganda’s (CoU) gratitude and unqualified support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023. The Act prohibits people from practicing same sex sexual relations. It sanctions promotion or recognition of same-sex relations and related matters, which, according to ++ Mugalu, are prohibited in both the scripture and Ugandan culture. But a dismayed Archbishop Welby, in a press release, urged ++ Mugalu to withdraw his public support for laws that criminalized the LGBTQ+ people. He wrote, “… there is no justification for any Province of the Anglican Communion to support such laws: not in our resolutions, not in our teachings, and not in the gospel we share.”

Was ++ Welby was returning a compliment? In February, ++ Mugalu rebuked Welby after the Church of England’s (CoE) General Synod approved blessing couples in same-sex unions. He condemned ++ Welby’s approval of a change in the Church’s marriage doctrine.  By allowing clergy to preside at Blessings of Same-sex Unions, for couples considered “married” by the British government. Further, CoE synod approved supplementary prayers and liturgies for such occasions.

The Archbishop Welby made a curious admission on the contentious issues of human sexuality, “… none of us get this right and I am only too conscious of the failing of the Church of England…” For this reason, he invited his fellow disciples across the Anglican Communion to a dialogue and urged them to desist from homophobia, racism and all other ‘othering’ of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 I see this primates’ tiff as an acute case of culture clash, given the global texture of the Anglican Communion. The primates differed in their interpretation of the CoE Synodal Resolutions and the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality Act. Despite both having cultural advisers, the contradictions were bound to erupt, because they got mutually puzzled at each other’s behaviour, not according to expectations. The William Blake (in Everlasting Gospel p.231) captures this contradiction best: “Both read the Bible, day, and night. But thou read’st black where I read white.”

Each primate speaks to a different audience, both home and abroad.

The Primates’ Altercation

The Church of England Resolution in February 2023

During their 2023 General Synod, the CoE passed several resolutions to enable her clergy to perform public services of blessing for same sex civil partnerships and marriages. The resolutions removed legal impediments to “solemnisation of same-sex marriage in the Church of England.” They achieved this without abandoning the traditional view of marriage as legitimate and honourable (Croft 2022, p. 23-4) In making these accommodations in practice, the CoE welcomed the LGBTQ+ people and repented for the harm caused.

++ Welby and the CoE received these changes as a fitting response to their social milieu where Justice and fairness for LGBTQ+ peoples is enshrined in the anti-discrimination laws. Same sex civil partnerships and marriages are now permissible. ++ Mugalu saw the changes as a contradiction. He wondered how the CoE could maintain traditional marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman, and at the same time permit clergy to bless couples in same-sex relationships.

++ Welby claimed the CoE labored long on the need for change before arriving at the present position. They reached the conclusion having sought the mind of scripture and “not reject Christ and His authority”. So, to question these changes, argued ++ Welby, makes the CoE and Anglican Church abroad “a victim of derision, contempt, and even attack for being part of the perceived ‘homophobic church’.”

But ++ Mugalu and the CoU were worried. Rejecting the inherited teaching of marriage and the sin of homosexual practices would damage her witness. There was a reluctance to change, for any such shift might render the CoU and other Anglican churches as beingpart of what is called the ‘gay church’.

While ++Welby rejected ++ Mugalu’s statements and the tag of a ‘homophobic church’, ++Mugalu refused the association with ++Welby position for fear of being labeled the ‘gay church’.

The Church of Uganda Support for Anti-Homosexuality Act

The Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of same sex. It also prohibits the promotion or recognition of same-sex relations and for related matters. And imposes long prison sentence for homosexual offences and life imprisonment for aggravated homosexual offenses on underage or disabled. It also sanctioned those convicted under the act from working directly with children to aid the CoU’s mission to protect children.

++ Kaziimba Mugalu supported this ACT because in his view Ugandans consider sexual action between persons of the same sexes a social abrasion. The archbishop argued that the previous legislation, drawn from the colonial era, criminalized same -sex relations under the Penal Code Act of 1950. He was in favor of the ACT’s strong anti-grooming measures and restrictions on promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury differed. He, and the CoE believe that homosexual attraction is a given, not a matter of choice (Croft 2022, 19). It is wrong for Uganda to criminalize people for who they are. So, if the Church supports laws forbidding partnerships for this group of people, their action ought to be unjust (Croft, 19) Since the CoE believes this is clear injustice, it should reflect in the rest of itsbeliefs. Thus, become a moral and ethical force in the 21st century. So, Welby called on CoU to reject such “criminal sanctions against same sex attracted people”. Instead, they should affirm them as humans, because God’s love is the same for every human being, irrespective of their sexuality.

The CoU refused to be tagged as condoning injustice and claimed that they were advancing human right protection laws. The CoU said they forced the government to replace the death sentence in the penal code and earlier bills with life imprisonment. In addition, it was pointed out that the Ugandan homosexual prohibitions were mild compared to laws in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East.

The CoE noted a profound dislocation between the Church and the society we are called to serve. A dislocation, which is not about their position concerning partnership or sexual expression, but a fundamental disagreement about justice and fairness. The society sees theCoE to inhabit a different moral universe (Croft 2022, p. 20).

But ++ Mugalu would never affirm LGBTI people, nor allow the CoU to normalize or be purveyors of homosexuality. The defining mark of the CoU is the sacrificial blood of the Uganda Martyrs. Although their confession and baptism defined their faith, the young martyrs’ refusal to yield to the homosexual advances of their king and dying for it was legendary.[2] Now faced with a similar challenge, how can the CoU betray them, or abandon the Lord Jesus Christ?


Why The Primates Clash?

There are two explanations for the archbishops’ clash. One advanced by the anthropologists like Paul Hiebert (1997), ethnocentrism, and the psychological dynamics of culture clash as advanced by to Adams and Markus (2004).

Whenever we find differences in culture, Hiebert (1997, p. 53-9) concludes, ethnocentrism occurs “the tendency to judge other cultures by our own the values and assumptions of our culture.” So, it becomes a norm to view one’s own cultural position as the most suitablethan others. And this is mutual. For just as we judge other’s customs as crude, they feel the same about ours.

The divergence of the archbishops’ vision for human sexuality is unyielding. The tension stretched into their interpretation of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10, the most cited Anglican authority on human sexuality. Where Archbishop Stephen harps on the resolution’s part (d), “homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture”. Therefore, the church (resolution part e) “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.” Archbishop Justin emphasizes the resolution part (c), “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.” And therefore, “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.”

So, ++ Mugalu’s reading of the resolution supported the Uganda anti-homosexuality Act, to the dismay of ++Welby, who judged the Ugandan action from the UK point of view, as inhuman. ++ Welby reads the resolution consistent with the CoE’s position, embracing and welcoming to LGBTI, which ++ Mugalu judged from his cultural point of view as compromising and contradictory.

For ++ Welby, offering loving services and pastoral services to individuals made in the image of God is to affirm their value and identity. And supporting ++ Welby, the Archbishop of York (ABY), lamented existing laws that target people perceived to be different. UnlovingLaws that cause prejudice, violence, discrimination, and oppression, according to ABY, are not rooted in the Gospel call. The call to love our neighbors as Christ has for us. Homosexual orientation is now viewed as normal as being left-handed in most Western culture. It is nature. So, to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, is unlawful and deeply wrong. The CoE refuses to inhabit a different moral universe. A further reason to re-examine our Scriptures and the tradition is to see if we can find a better way (Croft 2022, p. 20).

At the heart of the divide, in the Anglican Communion’s approach to pastoral care for the LGBTI people, in a mutual pervasive process of devaluing the non-dominant group in contact with the more dominant group. These differences either are cast as the result of negative shared tendencies, rather than as a matter of divergent life experiences (Graham et al., 2012).

The archbishop of Uganda held a different logic of loving and pastoral care for LGBTI. Such services, argued ++Mugalu, must be understood as guiding sinners back to God’s love through repentance. The CoU holds God condemns all sexual sins, such as fornication, adultery, polygamy, beastly acts, pedophile, and homosexuality. Repentant sinners can receive God’s love by confessing the wrong done and changing their lives. Their model of care and love is found in the example of Jesus’ treatment of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus said to her “Go, and sin no more.” Since God cannot bless what he calls sin, God wants to free those caught in sexual sin and lies from bondage. The CoU has therefore developed pastoral healing ministries and recovery centres, where LGBTI people canfind healing, forgiveness, freedom, and hope.

Culture reveals the psychological dynamics underlying the divide. When change comes, we are asked to examine cultural practices and institutions to foster a more inclusive, equal, and just multi-cultural society. The culture cycle offers insight into the primates’ clash.

Adams and Markus (2004, p. 341) observed, culture comprises explicit and implicit patterns of historically derived and selected ideas and their embodiment in institutions, practices, and artifacts. Hence, the culture cycle is conceived as a multilayered interacting, dynamic system of ideas, institutions, interactions, and individuals.

Conceptually, the culture cycle represents the dynamic process through which the cultural and the psychological interact and mutually make up one another. (See figure below)

The culture cycle adapted from Markus and Kitayama (2010).

Markus and Conner (2014) show culture as a system of four dynamically interacting and interdependent layers. Here, culture is composed of the ideas, institutions, and interactions that guide and reflect individuals, thoughts, feelings, and actions. The culture cyclecan either start from the left-hand or the right-hand. The two archbishops seem to start in the culture cycle from the opposite ends.

 Starting the culture cycle from the left, one begins with ideas, then institutions, and interactions that influence the individual. Consequently, cultures shape the self. For a person thinks, feels, and acts in ways that reflect and perpetuate these cultures. This appears to have been ++ Mugalu and the CoU starting point. Since the Ugandan culture frowns on homosexuality, this norm determines how individuals in the culture respond to the demands of the LGBTI people. So, the anti-homosexuality ACT, according to Anita Among’, speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, “captures the norms and aspirations of Ugandans, for the House legislates for the citizens.” How query’s ++ Mugalu, can the CoU embrace and normalize same-sex relations against their will, culture, and religious beliefs?

 Joining the culture cycle from the right is reflected by individuals participating in and creating (i.e., reinforce, resist, and/or change) cultures adopted by other people, in the present and the future. This is the point ++ Welby and the CoE, seems to have started from in the cycle. The CoE adopted an embracing posture, following the individual experience of the young generation who have grown up in a UK society where homosexual orientation is normal. These individuals were previously rejected by the Church. So, for most of their lives, members of this generation have endured deep hurt and distress, emanating from the sense of rejection and unworthiness at the hands of their own Church, while they found acceptance and affirmation in the wider society. The CoE perceives this dislocation as a fundamental disagreement over justice and fairness, thus transcending sexual expressions and partnerships.

Taking a position against homosexuality in the Ugandan society makes the CoU and therefore ++ Mugalu a moral voice. But taking a similar position would place the CoE in dissonance with the society it aims to serve.

If this divide is to be bridged, then the AC must examine the interconnected and the shifting dynamics that make up the culture cycle and afford certain ways of being while constraining others. We need to recognize that to foster more inclusive, equal, and effective institutions and practices, the deeper work will involve changing how cultures construct the meaning and nature of social group differences themselves.

We can exploit the power individuals have to shape their cultures through their actions, as we focus on how cultures shape people.

We Disagree, not Divided.


What is God saying to us, Anglicans now?

The Anglican Communion may not be divided for now, but it will wither on the vine and die, unless these fierce disagreements are attended. It is possible, in the words of E. Nader, the Anglican Communion is approaching a moment of its collapse, trailing dust of a British Empire whose robes are now tattered and thrown into history’s heap. Our generation is called to act for the sake of the “wider church” and world to maintain the communion.

Since the dissonance in human sexuality ruptured, the Anglican Communion has presented two divergent visions. One based on doctrinal unity defined by the traditional teaching of the faith received. The other on progressive reforms and anchored Anglican unity on providence of God, expressed in the Nicene Creed, the one holy, catholic, and apostolic.

Archbishop Stephen Mugalu, together with his brothers primates from what they have termed orthodox provinces, is persuaded that only doctrinal purity and safeguarding the traditional faith will unite the Anglican Communion. Their commitment to sever relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the April 2023 Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) IV meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, should be understood as the shift dynamics observed by professor Andrew Walls (2002) of the church’s “serial” development.

Walls noted that as the Church moved away from its Mediterranean center, she experienced multiple and major demographic and character shifts that brought her to this present form. With every demographic shift, the dynamic centers moved alongside the energy and the informing cultural orientations.

Archbishop Mugalu, together with other archbishops from the Global South, claim to represent 85% of the Anglican Communion, which projects the demographic shift Walls mentioned. They are now asserting dynamism as they seek to shape the communion by infusing new energy with their cultural orientation.

The 2023 GAFCON IV commitment is a departure from their 2008 commitment not to leave the Anglican Communion. Then, they demanded repentance from that Archbishop Rowan Williams for not sanctioning Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA), which had violated the guidance of Lambeth resolution 1.10. by consecrating an openly gay bishop in 2003. The inaction of ++ Williams led to the Archbishops from the orthodox provinces boycott of Lambeth 2008, and the formation of GAFCON.

The Archbishops of the Orthodox Provinces see the CoE’s decision to bless couples in same sex unions as a betrayal of the historic faith and cannot in good conscience follow a leader whose fidelity to the faith they question. As a result, they have resolved not to recognise this Archbishop of Canterbury as their Primus inter Peres. It this threat is carried through the primates would have dismembered of one of the key instruments of Communion. ++ Mugalu and the team will remain in the Communion only if CoE repents for advancing false teachings. But they offered to pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury and Church of England to repent, in line with Revelation 2:5b: “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” CoE are not willing to repent and are open to progress to advance their witness.

Anglican who sees unity as providence of God, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, sees God’s movement as one singular act. This is where God who gathers the Church and all creation to himself. This vision is embodied in the Anglican Communion Covenant part of which state: – “In the providence of God, which holds sway even over our divisions caused by sin, various families of churches have grown up within the universal Church in history. Among these families is the Anglican Communion, which provides a particular charism and identity among the many followers and servants of Jesus.” We can call the Church “one, holy and apostolic” only where the Church shows these realities as pertaining to God, describing how God works and moves to his unifying ends.

How well this common vision of the Anglican Communion matches God’s actual identity — the “it is finished” identity of Jesus Christ by which God orders the history of creation is subject of our interpretation. “We are not divided, but we disagree, and that is very painful.”Archbishop Welby conceded to the CoE’s General Synod.



[1] About the author: The author is a Priest of All Saints Cathedral Diocese of the ACK, a Canon of the All-Saints Kampala Cathedral of the Church of Uganda. He is Adjunct Lecturer at St. Paul’s University Limuru, Research tutor at Oxford Center for Religion and Public life and Part-time Lecturer at South African Theological Seminary. Dr. Omondi is a Member of Society for Practical Theologian South Africa (SPTSA)

[2] APPENDIX: Resolutions of Sections and Regions referred to in Subsection (f) of Resolution I.10 (Human Sexuality) Resolution V.35 from the West Africa Region (a) (iv)

Also published In The Elephant:


Cited works:

Adams, G., and Markus, H. R. (2004). “Toward a conception of culture suitable for a social psychology of culture” in The psychological foundations of culture. eds. M. Schaller and C. S. Crandall (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum), 335–360.

Andrew Walls, 2002. The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History. Maryknoll, NY:  Orbis.

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Statement on the Church of Uganda.

Archbishop of Uganda Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu 2023: Statement on “Church of  Uganda Responds to Church of England’s decision to Bless Same- Sex Unions”. 10th February 2023.

_____________________. “Church of Uganda Grateful for Anti-Homosexuality Act 2o23”.

______________. “Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Responds to Archbishop of Canterbury on Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.”

Collier Gerald 1989. Culture Clashes, Value Conflicts and Professional Education, Higher Education Research and Development, 8:1, 59-68, DOI: 10.1080/0729436890080106.

Croft, Steven, 2022. Together in Love and Faith the Bishop of Oxford.

Hiebert. Paul G.,1997 Cultural Anthropology Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, (53-59)

GAFCON IV Global Anglicans. April 2023 Kigali Rwanda.

Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., and Haidt, J. (2012). The moral stereotypes of liberals and conservatives: exaggeration of differences across the political spectrum. PLoS One 7:e50092. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050092.

Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10.

Lambeth Call: Human Dignity, Affirmation 2.3, 2022: wp- content/uploads/2022/08/LC_Human-Dignity_ENG.pdf

Living in Love & Faith: Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage), a five-session course guide for small groups, and a series of videos and podcasts. All of the resources are available at

Markus, H. R., and Kitayama, S. (2010). Cultures and selves: a cycle of mutual constitution. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 5, 420–430. doi: 10.1177/1745691610375557.

Markus, H. R., and Conner, A. C. (2014). Clash!: How to thrive in a multicultural world. (New York, NY: Penguin (Hudson Street Press)).

Radner,  Ephraim, 2017. The mission Dei of communion: the Anglicanism change and solidarity.

Towards an Anglican Covenant 2006:




GAFCON IV – The Kigali Commitment 2023

GAFCON IV – The Kigali Commitment


[Christ] is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among


Colossians 1:18

Greetings from Kigali, Rwanda, where the fourth Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met from 17-21 April 2023, bringing together 1,302 delegates from 52 countries, including 315 bishops, 456 other clergy and 531 laity.

We were grateful for the extraordinary hospitality extended by Archbishop Laurent Mbanda and the Anglican Church of Rwanda. We were deeply saddened to hear the news of the loss of Laurent and Chantal’s son Edwin, and we continue to offer our prayers of comfort for the Mbanda family.

We were also privileged to be welcomed and addressed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, the Right Honourable Edouard Ngirente who spoke of the significance of our gathering.

Our conference theme for 2023 ‘To Whom Shall We Go?’ (John 6:68), along with our Bible studies in the Letter to the Colossians, focused our attention on Jesus, the one in whom all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form, the Lord of all creation and the head of his body, the church (Colossians 1:15-19; 2:9).

Our Chairman in his opening address encouraged us to be a repenting church, a reconciling church, a reproducing church and a relentlessly compassionate church. This is the church we want to be.

We were reminded that the purpose and mission of the church is to make known to a lost world the glorious riches of the gospel by proclaiming Christ crucified and risen, and living faithfully together as his disciples.

Our Fellowship Together

We gave thanks for God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Gafcon movement since its inception in 2008, as we rejoiced in a new generation of emerging leaders. It is God who unites us to himself and to one another in the power of his Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). From the diversity of our different backgrounds and cultures we delighted in our unity in Christ and the love that we share.

Many among us are from contexts of persecution or conflict and we know that as one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. Some were unable to attend the conference because of this. We prayed for our brothers and sisters in Sudan, and for the suffering church. We also heard testimony of the power of the gospel to transform lives even in these circumstances through the prayer, kindness and compassion of Christians.

The Authority of God’s Word

The current divisions in the Anglican Communion have been caused by radical departures from the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some within the Communion have been taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world (Colossians 2:8). Such a failure to hear and heed God’s Word undermines the mission of the church as a whole.

The Bible is God’s Word written, breathed out by God as it was written by his faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:16). It carries God’s own authority, is its own interpreter, and it does not need to be supplemented, nor can it ever be overturned by human wisdom.

the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.


God’s good Word is the rule of our lives as disciples of Jesus and is the final authority in the church.

It grounds, energises and directs our mission in the world. The fellowship we enjoy with our risen and ascended Lord is nourished as we trust God’s Word, obey it and encourage each other to allow it to shape each area of our lives.

This fellowship is broken when we turn aside from God’s Word or attempt to reinterpret it in any way that overturns the plain reading of the text in its canonical context and so deny its truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency, and thereby its authority (Jerusalem Declaration #2).

The Current Crisis in the Anglican Communion

Despite 25 years of persistent warnings by most Anglican Primates, repeated departures from the authority of God’s Word have torn the fabric of the Communion. These warnings were blatantly and deliberately disregarded and now without repentance this tear cannot be mended.

The latest of these departures is the majority vote by the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2023 to welcome proposals by the bishops to enable same-sex couples to receive God’s blessing. It grieves the Holy Spirit and us that the leadership of the Church of England is determined to bless sin.

Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Any refusal to follow the biblical teaching that the only appropriate context for sexual activity is the exclusive lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage violates the created order (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6) and endangers salvation (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Public statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England in support of same-sex blessings are a betrayal of their ordination and consecration vows to banish error and to uphold and defend the truth taught in Scripture.

These statements are also a repudiation of Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which declared that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture,’ and advised against the ‘legitimising or blessing of same sex unions’. This occurred despite the Archbishop of Canterbury having affirmed that ‘the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, I.10 is not in doubt and that whole resolution is still in existence’.

The 2022 Lambeth Conference demonstrated the deep divisions in the Anglican Communion as many bishops chose not to attend and some of those who did withdrew from sharing at the Lord’s table.

The Failure of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Other Instruments of Communion

We have no confidence that the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the other Instruments of Communion led by him (the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings) are able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Instruments of Communion have failed to maintain true communion based on the Word of God and shared faith in Christ.

All four Instruments propose that the way ahead for the Anglican Communion is to learn to walk together in ‘good disagreement’. However we reject the claim that two contradictory positions can both be valid in matters affecting salvation. We cannot ‘walk together’ in good disagreement with those who have deliberately chosen to walk away from the ‘faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). The people of


God ’walk in his ways’, ‘walk in the truth’, and ‘walk in the light’, all of which require that we do not walk in Christian fellowship with those in darkness (Deuteronomy 8:6; 2 John 4; 1 John 1:7).

Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture. This failure of church discipline has been compounded by the current Archbishop of Canterbury who has himself welcomed the provision of liturgical resources to bless these practices contrary to Scripture. This renders his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible.

Call for Repentance

Repentance defines and shapes the Christian life and the life of the church. Each day at the Conference, in response to God’s Word in Colossians, we were led in a time of repentance.

Recognising our own sins, and in humility as forgiven sinners, we pray that those who have denied the orthodox Christian faith in word or deed would repent and return to the Lord (Jerusalem Declaration #13).

Since those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), we call upon those provinces, dioceses and leaders who have departed from biblical orthodoxy to repent of their failure to uphold the Bible’s teaching. This includes matters such as human sexuality and marriage, the uniqueness and divinity of Christ, his bodily resurrection, his promised return, the summons to faith and repentance and the final judgment.

We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken.

We consider that those who refuse to repent have abdicated their right to leadership within the Anglican Communion, and we commit ourselves to working with orthodox Primates and other leaders to reset the Communion on its biblical foundations.

Support for Faithful Anglicans

Since the inception of Gafcon, it has been necessary for the Gafcon Primates to recognise new orthodox jurisdictions for faithful Anglicans, such as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Anglican Church in Brazil, the Anglican Network in Europe (ANiE), the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Diocese of the Southern Cross. We encourage the Gafcon Primates to continue to provide such safe harbour for faithful Anglicans.

In view of the current crisis, we reiterate our support for those who are unable to remain in the Church of England because of the failure of its leadership. We rejoice in the growth of the ANiE and other Gafcon- aligned networks.

We also continue to stand with and pray for those faithful Anglicans who remain within the Church of England. We support their efforts to uphold biblical orthodoxy and to resist breaches of Resolution I.10.

Appropriate Pastoral Care

Aware of our own sin and frailty, we commit ourselves to providing appropriate pastoral care to all people in our churches. This is all the more necessary in the current context of sexual and gender confusion, made worse by its deliberate and systematic promotion across the world.

Appropriate pastoral care affirms faithfulness in marriage and abstinence in singleness. It is not appropriate pastoral care to mislead people, by pretending that God blesses sexually active relationships between two


people of the same sex. This is unloving as it leads them into error and places a stumbling block in the way of their inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

We affirm that every person is loved by God and we are determined to love as God loves. As Resolution I.10 affirms, we oppose the vilification or demeaning of any person including those who do not follow God’s ways, since all human beings are created in God’s image.

We are thankful to God for all those who seek to live a life of faithfulness to God’s Word in the face of all forms of sexual temptation.

We pledge ourselves afresh to support and care for one another in a loving and pastorally sensitive way as members of Christ’s body, building one another up in the Word and in the Spirit, and encouraging each other to experience God’s transforming power as we walk by faith in the path of repentance and obedience that leads to fullness of life.

Resetting the Communion

We were delighted to be joined in Kigali by leaders of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) and to host a combined Gafcon-GSFA Primates meeting. Together, these Primates represent the overwhelming majority (estimated at 85%) of Anglicans worldwide.

The leadership of both groups affirmed and celebrated their complementary roles in the Anglican Communion. Gafcon is a movement focused on evangelism and mission, church planting and providing support and a home for faithful Anglicans who are pressured by or alienated from revisionist dioceses and provinces. GSFA, on the other hand, is focused on establishing doctrinally based structures within the Communion.

We rejoice in the united commitment of both groups on three fundamentals: the lordship of Jesus Christ; the authority and clarity of the Word of God; and the priority of the church’s mission to the world. We acknowledge their agreement that ‘communion’ between churches and Christians must be based on doctrine (Jerusalem Declaration #13; GSFA Covenant 2.1.6). Anglican identity is defined by this and not by recognition from the See of Canterbury.

Both GSFA and Gafcon Primates share the view that, due to the departures from orthodoxy articulated above, they can no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion, the ‘first among equals’ of the Primates. The Church of England has chosen to impair her relationship with the orthodox provinces in the Communion.

We welcome the GSFA’s Ash Wednesday Statement of 20 February 2023, calling for a resetting and reordering of the Communion. We applaud the invitation of the GSFA Primates to collaborate with Gafcon and other orthodox Anglican groupings to work out the shape and nature of our common life together and how we are to maintain the priority of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.

Resetting the Communion is an urgent matter. It needs an adequate and robust foundation that addresses the legal and constitutional complexities in various Provinces. The goal is that orthodox Anglicans worldwide will have a clear identity, a global ‘spiritual home’ of which they can be proud, and a strong leadership structure that gives them stability and direction as Global Anglicans. We therefore commit to pray that God will guide this process of resetting, and that Gafcon and GSFA will keep in step with the Spirit.


Our Future Together

As we considered the future of our movement we welcomed the following seven priorities articulated by the General Secretary and endorsed by the Gafcon Primates.

We will engage in a decade of discipleship, evangelism and mission (2023-2033).
We will devote ourselves to raising up the next generation of leaders in Gafcon through Bible-based

theological education that will equip them to be Christ-centred and servant-hearted.

We will prioritise youth and children’s ministry that instructs them in the Word of the Lord, disciples them to maturity in Christ and equips them for a lifetime of Christian service.

We will affirm and encourage the vital and diverse ministries, including leadership roles, of Gafcon women in family, church and society, both as individuals and as groups.

We will demonstrate the compassion of Christ through the many Gafcon mercy ministries.
We will resource and support bishops’ training that produces faithful, courageous, servant leaders.
We will build the bonds of fellowship and mutual edification through interprovincial visits of our Primates.

Arising from our conference we encouraged the Primates Council also to prioritise discipleship for boys and men.

In order to pursue these priorities and to grow the work of the Gafcon movement, we endorsed the establishment of a foundation endowment. We also encouraged the Gafcon provinces to become financially self-sufficient, not only to advance mission but also to avoid being vulnerable to economic manipulation.

Most importantly of all, we commit ourselves afresh to the gospel mission of proclaiming the crucified, risen and ascended Christ, calling on all to acknowledge him as Lord in repentance and faith, and living out a joyful, faithful obedience to his Word in all areas of our lives. We will explore fresh ways to encourage each other, to pray for one another and to hold each other accountable in these things.

We commit ourselves into the hands of our almighty and loving heavenly Father with confidence that he will fulfil all his promises and, even through a time of pruning, Christ will build his church.

‘To whom shall we go?’
We go to Christ who alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68) and then we go with Christ to the whole world. Amen

Kigali, Rwanda 21 April 2023


Hear the Sound of Silence: The Story of John


By Canon Francis Omondi

      Doing God’s will may lead to a tragic end. Not the end you would desire. But that is not ALL, since God must fulfil his will in his world.

Mark 6:19-26 tells the story of John the Baptist being beheaded while in prison. Reading this narrative of John’s last days, one gets swallowed in the two most conspicuous aspects of the narrative:

Herode’s and Herodias proclivities, abuse of power… And the brutal execution, through beheading, of John the Baptist. These twin towers overshadow the nuances, and the gist of the narrative. John’s turmoil and agony in prison. In silence.

Herod silenced John in prison. That is why the Sound of Silence ought to be heard. I borrow this title from Music by Paul Simon (1964) The Sound Of Silence:

And in the naked light I saw: Ten thousand people, maybe more: People talking without speaking: People hearing without listening: People writing songs that voices never share: No one dare: Disturb the sound of silence.

Commentators have well articulated the reason for his imprisonment. I should not belabour that. But I will revisit it to reinforce his agony.

John had rebuked Herod Antipas for his blatant sin. Herod divorce of his wife, to marry his brothers’, Philip, wife- Herodias. This was a nasty act, in that some suggest it was like incest, breaking a Jewish law of Leviticus. But what irritated Herod was that John spoke in public about his sin. John also talked of this sin in private. He never stopped referring to the ill of their leader. This irked Herodias, who questioned John’s audacity, courage to question the king.   

John was reputed in Israel for his courage. Although his work among the people was popular, leading many to repent and find their way back to God. here was an obstinate Herod who was not only was evil but had power and evil courage. With his immense power, Herod imprisoned John to silence him. Yet in feared the people. For a riot in Galilee would have ended his rule. Herod knew how the Jews revered John. As a righteous and holy man.

Photo by Cameron Casey on

While in prison, his disciples, his confidence in God’s call, and God himself abandoned him:

1.    His disciples abandon him

For this hour he had to face alone… John the Baptist was alone in prison without his disciples. The soldiers were not afraid to obey the order to kill him. Paul, having fulfilled his mission, says only Luke is with me and everyone has left him (2 Timothy 4:10-11).

2. The confidence in his calling abandoned him.

John began questioning himself. Had he fulfilled his calling? What was it?

Here, John sought to confirm his call. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (Luke 7:27) 

He sought Jesus’ reassurance:

So, John called two of his disciples and sent them to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”(Luke 7:18-21)

In his response, Jesus wanted John to listen to the sound of silence. Not the voice in scriptures but in the ordinary day-to-day life of the Kingdom:

At that very time, Jesus cured many people of diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and granted sight to many who were blind.So, he answered them, “Go tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news proclaimed to them. Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:21-23)

Again in Paul Simon words:- v.5

And the people bowed and prayed: To the neon god they made: And the sign flashed out its warning: In the words that it was forming: And the sign said “The words of the prophets: Are written on subway walls: And tenement halls: And whispered in the sounds of silence”

It is possible, under pressure, to doubt one’s calling. The calling of God doesn’t get to us with a bang. We hear it in whispers, sounds of silence… that are only heard by those who hear it. The voice was meant for these ears. 

John’s example was to go to Jesus. He was called by Jesus to look out for the ordinary day-to-day life, where God is dealing with humanity.

Seeing and hearing God’s work among humans should allow us to situate ourselves in God’s grand plan. In the middle of pain, we get fulfillment in seeing God’s intervention in human life.

3.    John abandoned by God:

When you are in God’s will, why then does He disappear?

An enormous sense of abandonment griped John about God’s silence and abandoning him. John had done what God wanted him to do. He did what was right. With courage, he had spoken against injustice, had rebuked Herodias for marrying Herod Antipas.

John’s hour of trial came after Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced and asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod offered her half the kingdom; or whatever she dreamt about. Why would she want a man’s head on a platter? What she asked for was not what she really wanted. Salome did not know what she was saying. But when she spoke, she was speaking in strange tongues. She gained her mother’s language of treachery and revenge. In helping people in the communities, we insert our wishes and present them as though these were theirs’s. An aid worker said, “Why put my words in the mouth of people when it’s my own gain?” 

John’s head was chopped off and God did not prevent it. Nor did God respond. 

If one may think that God picked on John, One must read the scriptures deeply to see how God treats those he has called into this prophetic ministry. John was not the only one who experienced it.

Soon, Jesus will have to face a worse kind of abandonment. Jesus Himself, having done what God wanted, is abandoned by God on the cross, and cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani.” (Mark 15:34)  

The tragedy in the book of Job is that he did everything God expected of him. What he was afraid of just happened to him. He was righteous, but disaster hit him, and hit him hard. But God was silent. Job then tries to reach out to God to ask him why. 

Why that when we have done well, does God suddenly disappear?   

The hope that we had of fulfilling God’s work hits us and we ask, “Did I do right or wrong? Was I deceived?” There is a feeling of being deceived. Jeremiah prayed, “You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived.” (Jeremiah 20:7). He had clearly explained to the people the disaster that was coming, but God did not change His mind even in response to sincere prayers. God does not draw near to His disciple, but leaves him in a vacuum.

Where was God in Auschwitz, during the Naiz’s?

In the affliction of the Jews during the Nazi regime, many lost the sense of faith in God. For they asked where was God in the gas chamber?

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” Isaiah 63:9 ESV

Perhaps you may feel that God does not affirm you. And there is no one to share our burdens with.

It hurts when you haven’t accomplished the thing that made you leave home. You may ask:

 Is God’s will still guide us? Is God with us? 

You will feel the sense of abandonment, but it is not yet over. When we have done God’s work and then He abandons us, only God can find us, he comes to us in resurrection. 

It is not how we survive… we do not have power. It is possible that we are already sinking out. You are earning your marks you will soon display before God. What has God asked of you? What have you done with what you were given? What did you do with it?

South African author Alan Paton wrote a story about a school principal in Soweto, where the 1976 uprising began.

The principal was a gentle guy, not controversial, not one who goes to protests. He had friends in the white community because he didn’t talk politics at their tea parties. He was reasonable.

One day, the whites saw him sitting on a stage at a rally. Then the next time they saw him and he spoke at the rally. Then he was in the front, leading the march.

And they said to him, “What has happened to you? We depended on you! Now you are making things worse.”

He responded to them: One day I will die and the Great Judge in heaven will ask me, “where are your wounds?” And I will have to say, “I don’t have any.” And when I say, “I don’t have any,” the Great Judge will say to me, “Was there then nothing to fight for?”

Where are your wounds? You must work for the kingdom.

“I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater98 than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.”(Luke 7:28)

The least in the kingdom bears the mark of struggle for the Kingdom. They have wounds.


We need anger and courage.

Anger or holy rage on seeing what is happening to humanity and being disturbed by it. And courage to be reckless in acting to solve these ills.

But I would say- courage. No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack, a holy rage- the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity… a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world….

To rage at the lie that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction peace. To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the kingdom of God.

And remember, the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove and the Fish… but never the chameleon.” Kaj Munk, a Danish priest, spoke these words before the Gestapo killed him in 1944.

 In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! AMEN.


Rev. Canon Francis Omondi is a Priest of All Saints Cathedral Diocese of the ACK, a Canon of the All-Saints Kampala Cathedral of the Church of Uganda, Adjunct Lecturer at St. Paul’s University, Limuru, and Research Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.


Kenyan Christians can opt for Cremation

Canon Francis Omondi


Every time a prominent Kenyan Christian is cremated instead of being buried,3

a debate ensues among Kenyan Christians on the best ways of disposing of

their dead. The real contestation is on whether Christianity sanctions


The attitude of Christians has not shifted to favor cremation, despite the

reforms churches have made on their funeral policies. For example, the

Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) adopted changes to accept cremations as a

way of disposing of the dead in 1999 (ACK, Special Provincial Synod 2000, Min

3.9). But when Manasses Kuria, ACK’s second Archbishop, cremated the body

of his wife Mrs. Mary Nyambura Kuria in 2002 astonished Christians

disapproved of his action. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had

relaxed her position on cremation for their followers following Vatican II.

This article examines the debate about whether Christianity sanctions

cremation. First, it explains the historical development of burial as a church

practice adopted by most Christians in Kenya and highlights various customary

African norms for disposing of the dead. Second, it examines incidences of

cremations in Kenya, explaining why Christians are taking up this practice.

Third, it sets up a critical correlation of the findings in the second step, with

the normative traditions of the Kenyan Christians. Fourth, it applies

the empirical data and theological discourse to offer a theory for action which

revises the present praxis. It adduces theological grounds that allow Christians

to accept cremation as another way of disposing of their dead.

Although the Churches have pronounced themselves on cremation as an

acceptable alternative means of disposing of the dead, many Christians remain

reticent to switch to cremation from burial. This article has addressed the

reason for Christian reluctance by answering the objections raised against

cremation. This study was not a biblical response to cremation. Instead it

focused on presenting a theological response to the belief challenges facing

Christian disposing of their dead. I have, in this article, established a

theologically informed course of action, an action that removes the inhibition

of Christians in Kenya to cremation as a way of disposing of the dead,

consistent with the existing traditions of Christian faith and African customs.

This article exposes salient aspects surrounding cremation, establishing that it

does not offend Christian dogma, nor does it assault African customs.

In offering a plan for action to revise the present praxis, this study has

proposed a way forward for Kenyan Christians, having established that

Cremation offers Christians a valid and acceptable alternative to traditional


See the full article here:

But the Lord is in his holy temple (Habakkuk 2:20).

But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:20). GARISSA TERRORIST ATTACKS IN 2020

The intensity of Al-Shabab attacks in the region along the Kenya Somali border and Garissa is terrifying. The shooting of 3 teachers on Monday 13th January in Garissa has left us worried. This was not the first time Christian teachers were killed by Al-Shabaab in the area. But the increased frequency and the plain helplessness to stop the attacks are concerning. And it sticks out as a cruel reminder of the danger and venerability we are exposed to. Apart from God, we are on our own.  

The intensity of the Al-Shabaab offensive in this region is frightening. A week into the new year, we have had 3 terrorist attacks that have left 10 fatalities (not counting the dead insurgents). 

 Al-Shabaab militants attacked a bus in the Nyongoro area, Lamu County, on Thursday 2 January, with three people losing their lives in the incident. Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers killed four suspected Al-Shabab fighters and captured one following the attack.

What caught our attention was the pre-dawn raid in Lamu on 5th January. KDF Spokesperson Col Paul Njuguna said, that around 5.30 am al-Shabaab attempted to breach security at Manda Air Strip, but they successfully repulsed the attempted breach. There were damages done to the aircraft but KDF reports that the airstrip is safe. 

Two days later, on January 7th, the Al-Shabaab terrorist made another pre-dawn attack in Dadaab of Garissa County, killing four people. Area Deputy Commissioner Kibet Bowen said they killed four Somali locals including a teacher in an exchange of fire. The terrorist though shot dead four children in Saretho village, near Garissa. The Somali children were boarders and they had been housed in teachers’ houses. They shot at them thinking they were Christian teachers, only to realize they were mistaken. On realizing their mistake, the al-Shabaab got in to bandage some of the wounded children. According to the Police, the attackers had also targeted telecommunication masts in the area. Later, the police killed two of the terrorists and recovered two AK47 rifles and two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the slain men.

The terrorists focused their gaze on Garissa town’s Bulla Iftin area. We got to School (GAP) on Friday 10th of January to the news that our school was in imminent danger of attack by the Al-Shabaab terrorists. The Safaricom communication mast in the school compound was a perfect match for their pattern of attack, besides those at the school. But this was the plot was foiled as it became public knowledge and needed security measures taken.  

It appears that the terrorists shifted their gaze on Kamuthe 30 Km away from Garissa Town. The attack at Kamuthe primary school occurred Monday 13th at around 2 am, where according to the police, the terrorists attacked Kamuthe primary school, Kamuthe Police Post, a telecommunications mast and murdered 3 teachers, and burned the police station in their wake.  

This attack affected us as well. The majority of teachers at Kamuthe primary in the northeastern region of Kenya, come from the Christian parts of the country. They were therefore accommodated in staff waters at the compound. There were seven staff members and family in this school compound residential unit. These included six teachers; five male (one living with the wife) and one female, and the seventh was a female nurse serving at the dispensary.  

During the attack, they killed 3 teachers: Caleb Mutangia Mushindi (28years), Titus Sasieka Mushindi (29years), and Samwel Mutua (29years). But Joshua Mutua (30 years) survived although he suffered 2 gunshot wounds on his lower leg and is undergoing treatment at Garissa general hospital. But Mr. Robert Kivuti (53 years), one of the teachers, escaped into the night. climbed a tree escaping the notice of the terrorist and stayed there most of the night. Meanwhile, his wife also survived for she hid under the bed all this time. 

Mr. Titus Mushindi, killed in this incident, is the husband of Ruth Mushindi, a teacher at GAP. And he is a cousin to Caleb also killed in this incident. Titus was a Keyboard player during the Sunday worship of 12th January at St. Peters ACK Garissa, where he is a faithful member. He would have traveled to his station early Monday morning, as he had done often. But this time, the Headteacher demanded his presence at the school Monday morning. The Headteacher was scheduled to be way taking his daughter to a school outside the region. So, Titus had to travel to Kamuthe that Sunday afternoon. 

Titus feared for his security, because of the heightened attacks, he, therefore, requested prayers for safety from the praise and worship members. He left Garissa town at 4 pm using public transport and arrived that evening. At 11 pm he spoke on phone to his wife Ruth at Garissa Academy and his son Baraka wishing them good night. The terrorists woke him up at 1 pm to face their death. Even with odds against them, Titus met death as he attempted to resist the attackers. 

Mr. Samuel Mutua Kamba had graduated from Garissa University. He had survived the Garissa University terror attack of 2 April 2015 that left 149 students dead and many injured. He did not escape this time.   

In a curious move that night, the terrorist spared the female teacher and the nurse with her infant child. They made the nurse recite the Shahada and confess Islam, and she obliged. She was then marched to the dispensary where they looted the medicine available and items they deemed of value.

As the terrorist left, they sprayed the house of the headteacher with bullets in frustration of not finding him.  

 The existence of a police-post nearby did not deter the attack, nor did it repulse terror. It did not matter, for the police at Kamuthe police-post, must have heard the gunshots that killed the teachers and fled abandoning their station. The terrorists burnt down the police post before bombing the telecommunication mast in the market. Police have since identified the mastermind of the attack as Maulid Bilal, who is wanted for leading attacks in the Fafi and Hulugho regions. 

We appeal to the security agents to double their efforts and devise appropriate security strategies to protect Christians and local Somalis in the region. The terror attacks have now paralyzed education services to the local population, for all schools apart from those in Garissa town are closed. 

The eye of the storm is on us. We mourn in grief for our departed brothers. We are concerned about how we must live in this tension. We contemplate what future may be ours. May God make us more aware of his presence with us.

Please pray with us: 

          Strengthen the weary hands, make firm the feeble knees. 

                                       Say to the anxious:

 Be strong, fear not, your God is coming with judgment. Coming with judgment to save you.

          The ransomed of the Lord shall return and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Canon Omondi (15 January 2020)

Njau’s Speaking Murals: The Last Supper.

Elimo Njau’s last supper mural, (in Murang’a Murals by Harold F Miller).

The Last supper scene is one of 10 the most important murals on the walls of St. James’ All Martyrs Memorial Cathedral in Murang’a. 

The picture depicts Jesus, at home in Murang’a, using an old spoon, a ciihiru to serve his disciples, admonishing us the onlookers of a remote event without which our faith would be in utter disaster. It shows to the credibility of faith, founded articulated in this proclamation: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This is the theological and liturgical account of this mural.

The portrait is a testimony of history. It communicates to us stories of other followers of Christ. Those who made the story presented here their own. They drew it in their blood, tears, fears, and sweat, African and black. For they took their spot on the Lord’s table as Christian A’gikuyu, disregarding the Mau Mau oath administers who demanded confession that they were “Agikuyu karing’a”. 

We recognize faces Njau engraved on the murals covering walls of the St James Cathedral.  Among them was Rehab Ngendo, who opposed her tormentors… “I have drunk the Blood of Christ and how can I return to drink your goats’ blood?” They hoisted her up by the neck, but the Mau Mau oath she would not take. What about William Macharia who in 1954 refused to take the Mau Mau oath. They buried him to the neck. No amount of intimidation would persuade Macharia’s wife to take the oath and spare him. She belonged to Gaturume (lamb- Jesus). 

They hallowed this ground for us, they dedicated this Cathedral for us. They gave this place its name, ‘Martyrs Memorial Cathedral’. These are people we knew, or we may know about, for their testimony filled our nation. 

 As Anglicans assemble in this space Sunday after Sunday, our fears and the seductions of our times may blur the martyr’s message. The message Rev. John Gatu got, when he led Christians to dismiss the Gatundu oaths of 1969. 

The mural warns us that last supper is incongruous to all others. The martyrs are signalling us to value the ‘gaturume’ over the blood of goats. Can Christians, priests and Bishops take part in the practices of athuri a kĩama kia mbũri, administer in bloody ngurarios and irua ceremonies and minister the Lord’s table? I pray we are found true to the Lamb’s table.

The murals depict the tombstones of martyrs, hundreds, and thousands, who met their death with utmost cruelty: they inscribed their names on the plaques at the exits of All Martyrs (St. James) Cathedral, Murang‘a, for they were not afraid to die and go to God (Roberts 1954:15-33).

The entire Anglican Church of Kenya needs to gather in this Cathedral. Perhaps here the martyrs voices will be clearer that we belong to the triumphant Lamb. For: “we have died together, we will rise together, we will rise together.

Canon Omondi

Will Justice Martha Koome deliver Justice?

By Francis Omondi 

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         Lady Justice Martha Koome’s appointment as our Chief Justice causes me angst. It wrings hope yet wrenches something in my gut. Her reputation for human rights is without peer and without question. Yet her confession at the JSC interview showed a bent to support the government. I wonder which of her two pasts will define her reign. William Faulkner, in Requiem for a nun, warned, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”. 

      There is Koome activist past. The legendary past as the chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA). Koome, who from 2001 led civil rights organisations in securing women participation in the constitutional review. She frightened the Moi era regime. The government deemed her ideas dangerous in their battle. She pushed for children and women’s laws. Sought the release for people locked on trump up charges, whose rights the regime violated. It is inexplicable that they did not lock her in as well. That possibility frightened her… But not anymore.  

      Justice Koome hasn’t fought the government in a while. No sooner had she become a judge, than she jettisoned activism. In her own words, at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interview, her work at FIDA was situational. As a judge, she said “I have changed completely….” She said, “I am government, as the Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya… I head the other part of government.” This is her immediate past. And of this, many are anxious. 

         Writing on race equality in America’s 1940s, Faulkner’s message, was that some day, the people will rise above these divisions and will recognize the ties that bind all. They will recognize the fundamental lie of racism. But the protagonist fails that test, with his very Southern attitudes and bigotries. Hence, the past is never dead. For Justice Koome, which of these pasts is past?

         Our main worry is something that her 18 years’ duty as a judge has revealed. Petitioning the JSC to reject Koome’snomination, the President of Law Society of Kenya, Nelson Havi argued, her appointment will weaken the independence of the judiciary.  Havi cites the questionable Saturday night sitting of the Court of Appeal, in the Republic v IEBC Khalef Khalifa and another (2017) eKLR. During which Hon Justice (rtd.) E.M. Githinji, Hon. Justice Fatuma Sichale and Hon. Justice M.K. Koome delivered a judgement Ex-parte (done in interest of one side only), a final order reversing the entire judgement of the high court earlier that morning. 

          Holding an open court, heard ex-parte undermined justice, whatever urgent reason there was. Besides, sitting outside working hours without being authorised by the embattled Chief Justice strengthened the “systems pliable” narrative. It eroded the public confidence in the judiciary’s independence. That the Supreme Court affirming their ruling did not remove this stain.

        If Justice Koome is to deliver justice, she will have to regain her due north, i.e. that human rights past. Upholding justice must not be situational madam Chief Justice. Justice is about equal rights, and access for those being squeezed out.  

        Justice delivery ought to commence within the Judiciary.

 While interviewing Justice Koome, Commissioner Everlyn Olwande spoke for the Judges and magistrates. She spoke out of their fears using piercing allegory and questions. Is the judiciary hurtling fast towards another purge? The signal has always been claiming corruption in the judiciary. There was the radical surgery under Justice Aaron Ringera, or Judicial Vetting that saw another swath of judges evicted, these didn’t clean the perception. 

         In 2019, the state shifted its was on graft war on the judiciary. The Chief Public Prosecutor, Noordin Mohamed Haji, started a drifting charge against the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, that she “abused her office for personal gain, undermining public integrity in the judiciary”. Haji claimed he had conjured enough evidence for “a reasonable prospect of conviction.” He so instituted a criminal proceeding against her in public interest.

        The case raised a critical constitutional conundrum. They charged the DCJ on suspicion of corruption, failure to pay taxes and improper dealings with a local bank. How can “a commercial transaction between her and a private institution”, amount to a criminal offence? This justice, Chacha determined.

      But observers saw through the scheme. If they did not forge the case to force JSC to eject her from office, then it is a guise of the promised “we shall revisit”. This, in my view, was the veiled fear in Commissioner Olwande’s questions. It will be tragic if the Chief Justice cede her power to the government. She stated: “No, no, my question is, is there any other structures that can stop the Chief Justice from abusing power?” 

       The thin hope the judiciary must hang on is Justice Koome’s statement, “An institution like the Judiciary should be self-cleansing… and that from within and should be not from without.” This should “ring-fence the independence of the judges, the judges’ decision making and the institution” she said. 

       Chief Justice Koome’s major challenge will be delivery of Justice to Kenyans. With compromised legislature and executive working on its own agenda, the Judiciary, as the custodian of law, remains the guard rail holding Kenya from tumbling into the precipice of chaos. 

          Governments have a propensity to oppress. Uhuru Kenyatta’s government isn’t unique in its little regard for the citizens justice. Justice Koome inherits a justice department the regime has battered to pulp with a punitive budget cut in the Judiciary, disregard of courts’ authority, and derisive rhetoric. How else can we explain the Presidents’ delay in appointing the 41 judges, the JSC recommended mid-2019? This delay, Justice Maraga complained, made work difficult for the courts. Makokha Kwamchetsi considers president’s agenda was to diminish the stature of the Judiciary. (

         I appeal to Chief Justice Koome’s faith to make the judiciary work for Kenyans. An episode in Exodus one demands our attention, since it was a turning point in human history. Its heroines are Shifra and Puah, two outstanding women. The midwives Pharaoh instructed: “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live” (Exodus 1: 16). But they would not carry out the order: “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live”(1:17). 

        Commenting on the episode, Rabbi Jonathan Sack termed it as “the first recorded instance in history of civil disobedience”. The two women refused to obey their world’s most powerful man’s order. The order they judgedunethical and inhuman. To Pharaoh’s questioning, they explained: “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive” (1: 19). Pharaoh had no reply. 

        In refusing to follow the orders, Shifra and Puah showed that ultimate Sovereignty belongs to God. A notion that sovereignty belongs to the people is fallacy. No. The state and people who put it in power can err. Rabbi Jonathan Sack argues that moral law transcends and may override the law of the state. 

         Kenyans expect independence of the Judges, and freedom for the judiciary officers to act in interest of justice and not to protect power. Explanation such as, in IEBC v Khalef Khalif case, excuse of being empaneled and acting on public interests won’t hold.

          During the 1946 Nuremburg trials, the war criminals’ plea was “… they were merely obeying orders, given by a duly constituted and democratically elected government”. But for a new legal concept of crime against humanity, the holocaust’s perpetrators guilt would have remained unestablished. Which Sacks comments: “The Nuremberg principle gave legal substance to what the midwives instinctively understood, that there are orders that should not be obeyed, because they are immoral.” So, any human order transgressing the will of God is by that fact alone ultra vires. Shifra and Puah are the first to teach humanity the moral limits of power. 

        We are a country, it seems, bankrupt of goodness. A space filled with evil we commit to each other. A good judiciary, without our cooperation in shunning evil against others, will become as useless as a scarecrow after harvest. We ought to do good because that’s what a human being is supposed to do.

           It has confounded me how attractive evil is to others. We give undue attention to evils’ whisper or shouts. Not that evil does not demand confrontation, but I wonder why it is so elevated. The formula in which evil reigns is bad versus good. Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Prize winner for literature, noted that “Evil has a blockbuster audience; Goodness lurks backstage. Evil has vivid speech; Goodness bites its tongue.”

         To understand goodness for humanity, Toni explored the term altruism, the other, rather selfless compassion for the “other.” In her research, she learned something about altruism, weight, its urgency, and its relevance in contemporary thought. What defined goodness for her was a curious incident in the Amish community of Pa. USA. On Oct. 2, 2006, Charles C. Roberts 32, arrived at the West nickel Mines Amish school and ordered the male students to leave. He allowed a pregnant woman and three women with babies to leave. Roberts lined up 10 girls, ages 9 to 13, and shot them, killing five girls and injured five others. Then killed himself.

          Although Roberts was not Amish, the community forgave him, refused to seek justice, demand vengeance, or even to judge him. They visited and comforted his widow and children, just as they embraced the relatives of the slain. The Amish are averse to any killing of human beings. In refusing to judge Robert, the Amish community asserted, it was God’s place to judge. They said nothing or very little to outside inquiry. Held no press conferences and submitted to no television interviews. But only cautioned when saying, “Do not think evil of this man.” They buried their dead, then attended the killer’s funeral the following day. Then built a new schoolhouse, having torn down the old one. 

         Their silence following the slaughter, along with their deep concern for the killer’s family, seemed to Toni at the time characteristic of genuine “goodness” or altruism. And she became fascinated with the term and its definition.

          Toni Morrison identified three definitions of altruism. Altruism is not an instinctive act of selflessness, but a taught and learned one. It might be an ego enhancing in a desperate wish to decrease self-loathing as well. While others argued, altruism as an embedded gene firing to enable the sacrifice of oneself for the help of others. Such sacrifice for kin and/or community is innate, they claim. And is built into our genes, just as we hold individual conquest of others to be an instinctive drive that serves evolution. 

       This goodness we can learn. We can be taught goodness until it becomes a habit of helping strangers and/or taking risks for them at our expense. This should override the Goodness as instinct, because of genetics inclining us to protect our own kin or group such that what we seek for our group extends to all the people we meet. The unquestioning compassion to support not just kin but of members of the group.

        Mr. Justice John Khamoni (rtd) learnt this goodness. As a result, the Law Society of Kenya in 1999 awarded him distinguished service in administration of justice. Award which the then Chief Justice barred him from receiving. And in 2015 he received the 3rd Justice  C.B. Madan Prize 2015, for his contribution in justice administration (Walter Khobe The Platform No. 13/14 Dec/Jan 2015/2016 p. 36-39). In my view, he is an example of altruism in the judiciary.

             Two of Justice Khamoni’s acts of goodness were done at significant risk to his carrier in the judiciary. For instance, in November 1991, at the peak of the movement for multi-party reform, the police arrested leaders of the famous proscribed Kamukunji meeting at Nairobi and charged in different centers in the country. The magistrate had refused the bail applications for James Orengo and Luke Obok. This case, therefore, reached the High Court in Kisumu before the newly appointed Judge, Mr. Justice Khamoni. In that charged atmosphere, Khamoni considered the application on legal principles of the grant and refusal of bail, and in an unimpeached ruling, He granted both applicants bail. 

           While in 1996, Justice Khamoni issued orders of prohibiting oppressive criminal proceedings by the state to punish opponents in settling civil cases. In Republic v Jared Benson Kangwana, Nairobi High Court Misc. Application No 446 0f 1995. Kangwana filed application praying for orders of judicial review. The court faced an application that continued criminal prosecution amounts to a travesty of justice. While Khamoni affirmed the AG’s unfettered discretion to institute and undertake criminal proceedings, he qualified the discretion, arguing that they should exercise it in a quasi-judicial way and not contrary to public policy. Insisting that the state must strain be extra alert to make sure that criminal proceedings are not used to settle civil disputes. Justice Khamoni rejected any party starting criminal proceedings to cajole an opponent to submit to judgement. Khamoni opposed the invocation of the law in unsuitable circumstances for wrong ends. 

         Justice Khamoni’s vision for a criminal justice system was one averse to oppression. He held that the high court had a duty to prevent vexatious and oppressive prosecutions, instituted for an improper purpose, mala fide, hence an abuse of the court. The two nurses acted like good people. So did Justice Khamoni, and that in quiet. By their act we learn to “feared God”, a generic description of those who have a moral sense.

            Have we wondered why Hon. Amos Wako changed during his 20 years as Kenya’s Attorney General? He served as LSK chairman from 1979 to 1981. And was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee between 1985 and 1992. The honour we paid him and the owe in which we held him reached beyond Kenya to places far away and in countries where the intelligence of Africans is the source of much amusement. Thinking he would check the Nyayo era excesses turned into a futile dream. As head of the state law office, and over saw torcher and suppression of Kenyans agitating for multi-party rule. He watched the wanton human right abuses without a wimp. Although to his credit, Kenya achieved multi-party rule and change of constitution during his tenure. But the KANU government tethered him to the Goldenberg scandal, a long-running corruption scandal his entire time as Attorney General. Which led to his sanction by the USA government. 

         The government is a toxic soil. This is something insightful we now know. Something we didn’t know at the beginning. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers, to borrow the words of Claudia at the end of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”. Certain seeds this soil will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear. Will Chief Justice Koome thrive in this soil?

         When we say the past is just a prologue, we mean the past should not enslave us, rather we spring into bright day from lessons we learnt from that dark past. Prologue because we follow a path blazed by leaders such as Shifra and Puah. 

Rev. Canon Francis Omondi, A priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya, All Saints Cathedral Diocese Nairobi. He is an Adjunct Lecturer St. Paul’s University Limuru.  

Inequalities and not hustler nation euphoria is Kenya’s bane

By Canon Francis Omondi

Stifling the “hustler” vs “dynasty” debate will not save us from the imminent implosion resulting from Kenya’s obscene inequalities. While the debate is a welcome distraction from our frequent divisive tribal politics, leaders in government and society are frightened that it might lead to class wars. Our sustained subtle, yet brazen, war against the poor has made class conflict inevitable. If only we had listened to Hon. J. M. Kariuki, the assassinated former Member of Parliament for Nyandarua (1969-1975), and provided the poor with the means to develop themselves, perhaps the prospect of revolt would now be remote.  

Could this be the angry ghost of J.M. Kariuki coming back to haunt us? Listen to his voice still crying from the grave, as did his supporters at a rally in 1974: “We do not want a Kenya of ten millionaires and ten million beggars. Our people who died in the forests died with a handful of soil in their right hands, believing they had fallen in a noble struggle to regain our land . . . But we are being carried away by selfishness and greed. Unless something is done now, the land question will be answered by bloodshed” (quoted by Prof. Simiyu Wandibba in his book J.M. Kariuki). Fired by this speech, his followers set ablaze 700 acres of wheat on Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s farm in Rongai and slaughtered cattle with malice. Thus did J.M. invite his death. 

What Hon. William Ruto propounds in his hustler vs dynasty debate is a shrewd way of redefining Kenyan identity politics. Ruto is re-directing the political narrative from the “us” vs “them” of tribalism, to one characterised by the poor and desperate (hustlers) who have seen subsequent governments betray their hopes for a better life, pitted against “them”, Ruto’s rivals, the offspring of politicians born to unfair and unearned privilege. 

Hon. William Ruto’s hustler vs dynasty narrative is a shrewd way of redefining Kenyan identity politics in order to avoid playing the tribal card in his quest for the presidency.

Wycliffe Muga, the Star newspaper columnist, has eloquently described them as the “sons of a hereditary political elite who absorbed all the benefits that came with independence, leaving ‘the rest of us’ destitute and having no choice but to beg for the crumbs under their table.” By opting for an alternative approach, Ruto hopes to avoid playing the tribal card to attain the presidency. For, besides his own, he would need support from at least one other of the five big tribes who often reserve support for their own sons unless there is a brokered alliance. But even then, the underlying logic of Kenyan politics remains that of identity politics, which creates a binary narrative of “us” against “them”.  

Meanwhile, Ruto has not only radicalised the poor, but he has also hastened the country’s hour of reckoning, a judgement for the years of neglect of the poor, and this may ignite the tinder sooner we imagine.

In their article in The Elephant, Dauti Kahura and Akoko Akech observe that, “Ruto might have belatedly discovered the great socio-economic divide between the walala-hoi and the walala-hai in Kenya”. Ruto has galvanized the poor and their plight around the banner of the “hustler nation”, a nation aspiring to erase the tribal or geographical lines that have kept Kenyans apart. As a result the poor are restless as they compare their state with the ease of the lives of the affluent. But Ruto is not organising to awaken class-consciousness among the exploited.  ‘As Thandika Mkandawire, citing Karl Marx, observed, “The existence of class may portend class struggles, but it does not automatically trigger them. It is not enough that classes exist in themselves, they must also be for themselves”’, Kahura and Akech further reiterate.   

The problem kicks in immediately he points to the “dynasty”. In juxtaposing the hustlers and dynasty, the poor find a target of hate, an object of their wrath. This situation can easily slide into violence, the violence emerging only when the “us” see themselves as all good and the “them” as all evil. 

I worry this controversy had led us to that radicalisation stage, where the poor see themselves as good children of light fighting against evil forces of darkness. In our case, the so-called hustler nation believe they are against the deep-state, which cares less about them, but wants to give their dues the “dynasty”. This collusion between deep-state and dynasty is preventing them from reaching prosperity. So, acting in self-respect, they deflect their situation to those who they perceive as the cause of their wretchedness. Interestingly, the colonial state always feared the day when the masses would rise up and topple it. Unfortunately, Ruto is using the crisis of the underclass created by the colonial state and perpetuated by the political class for his own self-advancement and political expediency. 

By declaring himself the saviour of the hustlers from the dynasties, Ruto — who is devoid of any pro-democracy and pro-suffering citizens political credentials — is perceived to be antagonising the Kenyatta family’s political and financial interests. He has with precision stoked the anger of the poor against particular political elites he calls dynasties and the Odingas, the Kenyattas, the Mois and their associates have become the hustler nation’s enemy. So, one understands why President Uhuru Kenyatta considers Ruto’s dynasty vs hustler debate “a divisive and a major threat to the country’s security”, which Kenyatta fears may degenerate into class warfare.

Hon. Paul Koinange, Chairman of the Parliamentary Administration and Security Committee errs in his call to criminalise the hustler vs dynasty narrative. If this is hate speech, as Koinange wants it classified, then neglect of the poor by their government is a worse form of hate speech. The application of policies favouring tender-preneurs at the expense of the majority poor, landless and unemployed will incite Kenyans against each other faster than the hustler vs dynasty narrative. The failure to provide public services for the poor and the spiralling wealth of the political class must be confronted. 

We have been speeding down this slippery slope for years. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data ( the 2020 the  Economic Survey in Nairobi on April 28, 2020 you published it in the Elephant). released in December 2020, only 2.92 million Kenyans work in the formal sector, of which 1.34 million or 45.9 per cent earn less than KSh30,000. If we accept that the informal sector employs another 15 million Kenyans, an overwhelming majority —71 per cent — would be in micro-scale enterprises or in small-scale enterprises which make up 26 per cent. This implies that 97 per cent of our enterprises are micro or small, and these are easily wound up. The situation is exasperated by the opulence at the top. The UK-based New World Wealth survey (2014) conducted over 5 years, painted a grim picture of wealth distribution in Kenya. Of the country’s 43.1 million people then, 46 per cent lived below the poverty line, surviving on less than Sh172 ($2) a day. This report showed that nearly two-thirds of Kenya’s Sh4.3 trillion ($50 billion) economy is controlled by a tiny clique of 8,300 super-wealthy individuals, highlighting the huge inequality between the rich and the poor. Without a clear understanding of these disparities, it is difficult to evaluate the currents that are conducive to the widening of this gap not to mention those that would bridge it. Hon. Koinange should be bothered to address these inequalities the masses are awakening to than the hustler narrative. Our government must be intentional in levelling the playing field, or live in perpetual fear like the British colonials who feared mass revolt across imaginary ethnic lines.   

Our government must be intentional in levelling the playing field, or live in perpetual fear like the British colonials who feared mass revolt across imaginary ethnic lines.   

In Kenya past injustices yielded gross inequalities, for which Okello and Gitau, in Reading on inequality in Kenya: Sectoral Dynamics and Perceptions, illustrated how state power is still being used to perpetuate differences in the sharing of political and economic welfare. Okello further observed that: “In a country where for a long time economic and political power was/has been heavily partisan, where the state appropriated for itself the role of being the agency for development, and where politics is highly ethnicised, the hypothesis of unequal treatment has been so easy to build.”

This, not euphoria from the “hustler nation”, is the tinder that is about to explode. The horizontal manifestation of inequality stemming from failure of state institutions or policies that have continued to fester inequalities, is what should be a concern to the state. How can the government not see the risk such extreme economic disparities within the population pose for the nation’s stability? 

Canon Francis Omondi, is a priest of All Saints Cathedral Diocese Nairobi, and an adjunct lecturer at St. Paul’s University Limuru. Views expressed here are his own.

This article was first published in The Elephant as

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