Archbishop David Gitari of Kenya – global African Anglican leader

Vinay Samuel and Chris Sugden, CEN

David Mukuba Gitari, first Bishop of the Diocese of Mount Kenya East (1975-1997) and Archbishop of Kenya (1997-2002) died in hospital in Nairobi on September 30, 2013 aged 76.

David Gitari was one of the first post-colonial global African Christian leaders. He was born to Samuel and Jesse Mukuba in 1937. Samuel was the first person to evangelise the area where his fifth child would be bishop decades later.

David as a child was too small to be allowed to enrol at school at the age of 6. He was also sent home from teachers training college at the age of seventeen because he could not reach the blackboard.

He was a leader in the Kenya Students Christian Fellowship and encouraged by the late Oliver Barclay, trained in theology through IFES at Tyndale Hall Bristol in 1965. He became a travelling secretary for the Pan African Fellowship of Evangelical Students in East and Central Africa. In 1971 he became General Secretary of the Bible Society of Kenya.

He came to prominence in Kenya in 1975 when he gave a series of six bible expositions on the State-run Voice of Kenya radio in the five minute “Lift up your hearts” slot before the seven o’clock morning news. A leading member of Parliament, J.M. Kariuki had been found murdered in a thicket in the Ngong Hills. Gitari expounded Genesis 4 on Cain’s murder of Abel. He was ‘carpeted’ by VoK and told his sermons had been disturbing. Gitari replied that the gospel of Jesus Christ is very disturbing, especially to sinners.

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