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Kenya: Former Archbishop’s voice heard even after his death

Posted on: October 22, 2014 4:06 PM
David Gitari's autobiography Troubled But Not Destroyed was launched on October 16 in the Kenyan capitol of Nairobi
Related Categories: Abp Gitari, Kenya

By Bellah Zulu, ACNS

The voice of an outspoken former Anglican primate who died in September last year will continue to be heard by generations thanks to the publication of his autobiography.

Troubled But Not Destroyed was launched on October 16 in the Kenyan capitol of Nairobi in what one of the attendees called “a fantastic, absolutely challenging and great event.”

Archbishop David Gitari wrote the book over a 10-year period based on his personal daily observations and interactions “so that future biographers could use it as an important resource in their research about my life,” as well as a “true record of his life and ministry.”

In a short review to the book, Archbishop of York John Sentamu reflects that the book is a “call to integrity, courage, and passion lived out in an uncompromising proclamation of the Gospel.”

In an invitation letter sent out to people before the event, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the launch, James Mathenge said the new book was “narrated with rare forthrightness and is a must-read from a distinguished leader and reformist respected across the globe.”

The autobiography addresses many other components of his life and the politics of Kenya. An excerpt from the book shows how the former Archbishop criticsed former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and his government around the violence that erupted the 2007 elections.

“I had assumed Kibaki would do everything possible to keep the National Rainbow Coalition together. This was one of the many reasons which made the 2007 election end up in violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and more than 3,000 others are refugees in their own country,” he says.

Abp Gitari admits also how the Church at the time “were so divided that their prophetic voice could not be heard.”

One Kenyan book reviewer was amazed by the archbishop's "vivid narrations of encounters with Kenyan leaders" over the years, and recounts a chapter where he recollects a “brush encounter with the late Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta's Government that ushered him into the national limelight.”

However, some have questioned the authenticity of the autobiography, but the person entrusted with publishing the book, Canon Chris Sugden tried to set the record straight.

“This is his story, not a cleaned-up or edited version,” he said. “If you want to know exactly what Archbishop Gitari thought had happened and what he held dearly in life, it is here in his own words – no one else’s, and posterity will hear his voice.”

Over 200 people including the Archbishop of Kenya the Most Revd Dr Eliud Wabukala, people from civil society, government, the clergy, academics and some family and friends attended the launch.