Bishop’s defiant streak runs in son’s blood - Daily Nation

Bishop’s defiant streak runs in son’s blood

Friday August 13 2010

hezron njoroge | nation
Andrew Muge, the son of

hezron njoroge | nation Andrew Muge, the son of the late Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge this week. His father died in a road accident on August 14, 1990. 

By Muchiri Karanja [email protected]

There is a streak of defiance running through this bishop’s son. He does everything a bishop’s son ought not to do: he wears dreadlocks, chain-smokes and generally likes clubbing.

But then again, the child is father to man, and Andrew is a chip off the old block; defiance was the trademark of his father, the late Bishop Alexander Kipsang Muge — a paramilitary explosives expert who ditched the gun for the Bible.

First, Bishop Muge defied his first calling in the General Service Unit to become an Anglican priest.

During his interview for priesthood, a rather skeptical Dr Henry Okullu, then the provost at Nairobi’s All Saints Cathedral, asked him: “How can you, a former GSU, be a priest?”

He passed the interview, and went on to join his interviewer, Okullu, on the Anglican Church pulpit to deliver scathing sermons against the corrupt politicians of the day in the Moi era.

And when powerful politicians sought to gag him, the defiant bishop of Eldoret retorted: “I shall not protest against the violation of human rights in South Africa if I am not allowed to protest the violation of human rights in my own country.”

More defiance followed. The then Labour minister, Peter Okondo, warned him not to set foot in Busia. Muge ignored the minister’s death threats and travelled to the border town.

It was his last act of defiance: On his way back to Eldoret, a lorry rammed into his car, killing him on the spot.

Breaking the sad news

Andrew still recalls the afternoon his father died. He was 18, and in fourth form, two weeks into the August holidays. He had invited a couple of friends to their Eldoret home when a church car drove into the compound.

One of the late bishop’s parishioners broke the sad news. “She said, ‘your father is gone with God’,” recounts Andrew.

Stunned, Andrew recalls his young sister enquiring how their father died. The crowds gathered around Nairobi’s Lee Funeral Home when the family went to view the body.

“I guess that is when it hit me that he was gone,” says Andrew.

The circumstances around his father’s death remain shrouded in mystery to date. Andrew says Okondo may not be the one that killed him. Whoever did it is still at large, he says.

His father may be gone, but his fighting spirit lives on in his first son, Andrew Sang, a biochemist graduate who now runs a charity foundation named after his late father.

Like his father, Andrew has little time for politicians. They evoke bitter memories of his father’s death, he says.

One of them predicted his father’s death and even the best of them cashed in on his death.

“I still remember one of them addressing a political rally right opposite the church where my father’s requiem mass was going on,” he says.

In his hey days, the late Anglican Bishop was a thorn in the flesh to both the church that he served, which he constantly accused of ethnicity, and powerful Moi regime politicians of the day whose corruption he detested.

Alongside Bishop Timothy Njoya of PCEA and fellow Anglican bishops Okullu and David Gitari, Muge used his Sunday sermons to chastise the government over corruption.

Twenty years after his father’s death, Andrew says, the same politicians who played a role in his father’s death have shaken the resolve of the church he left behind. The just-concluded constitutional referendum, he says, is a clear proof of this.

And if the late Bishop was alive, the church would have fared better in the referendum, he says, probably even won the vote.

So, would his old man have voted ‘No’ in the referendum?

“Absolutely,” quips Andrew.

The referendum would have been the second test for the late bishop. The first was 20 years ago, when the debate on the introduction multi-partyism in Kenya reached the peak.

Then, Muge, sided with single-party supporters, while his church colleagues loudly voted for a multi-party system.