Dr Eliud Wabukala is the new head of the Anglican Church of Kenya. The 58-year-old Bungoma bishop was picked to succeed the church’s outgoing head, archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, during a gruelling three-and-half-hour election held at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on Friday.
He fended off stiff opposition from Maseno West bishop Joseph Wasonga, Taita Taveta’s Bishop Samson Mwaluda and Kitale’s Bishop Stephen Kewasis.
He becomes the fifth archbishop to head the 4.5 million-member church in Kenya after Festo Olang’, Manasses Kuria, David Gitari and Nzimbi.
The new archbishop will formally assume leadership of the church upon being consecrated at the All Saints Cathedral on July 5, six days after Nzimbi officially retires, having attained 65 years of age. He is expected to serve up to 2016 when he will attain the age of 65. He has served as bishop for the last 13 years.
Sources within the church’s electoral college, the body that votes to elect the archbishop, who requested anonymity because they are not mandated to speak on behalf of the church, attributed Dr Wabukala’s victory to intense lobbying that preceded Friday’s poll.
With each of the four candidates enjoying support from their respective regions, the turning point for Dr Wabukala, the Nation learnt, came on Thursday night, when members of the electoral college from the Mt Kenya area resolved to throw their weight behind him.
Sources said they dropped their support for Bishop Mwaluda over his relative inexperience, compared to Dr Wabukala’s.
The electoral college comprises five delegates from each of ACK’s 30 dioceses spread across the country and 12 others drawn from the Nairobi archdiocese, the church’s mother diocese.
The ACK, which is one of the oldest churches in the country, has had some of the fiercest critics of the government, especially during the Kanu regime.
In the single party era, the church’s voice was for the most part heard through outspoken clerics who included Dr Kuria, bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge, bishop Henry Okullu and Dr Gitari.
But after Kanu’s ouster, the religious leaders seemed to have gone into slumber.
Additional reporting by Kibiwott Koross