Gitari was an ‘opposition cleric’

Wednesday October 2 2013

PHOTO | FILE Archbishop David Gitari at a service in Buru Buru’s St James Church on November 28, 2010.

PHOTO | FILE Archbishop David Gitari at a service in Buru Buru’s St James Church on November 28, 2010. NATION MEDIA GROUP

Dr David Gitari is among four Anglican clerics regarded by the Kanu regime as rogue shepherds.

Archbishop Manases Kuria, whom Dr Gitari succeeded, Dr Henry Okulu of Maseno South Diocese and Alexander Muge of Eldoret Diocese, became the informal opposition to check Kanu in the 1980s.

They found voice on the pulpit, spoke for millions where politicians had been gagged, and openly criticised the Daniel arap Moi regime.

At the time, Kenyans were accused of all manner of underground activities, Mwakenya and Pambana being among the leaflets critical of Kanu they were said to be circulating. Many were detained or jailed.

Like Dr Okulu and Archbishop Kuria, Dr Gitari (he passed away on Monday) died in retirement. Bishop Muge met his death in a road accident on Webuye-Eldoret road where his car crashed into a lorry. His death was controversial in that the tragedy followed a warning by Labour minister Peter Okondo that if he ever dared to go to Busia, he would not return to Eldoret alive.

Mr Okondo was accused of a “long tongue” after the cleric’s death and he subsequently resigned from the Cabinet.
Lorry driver Nicanori Omukoba was tried for careless driving and jailed. He died in prison.

Dr Gitari’s lyrics against the regime as Bishop of Mt Kenya East made him the hero in Kenya’s single party system. He, among others, opposed queue-voting (mlolongo).

President Moi was to accuse him of having climbed the ceiling of his home to attract world attention when Kanu youths raided his home at Dipatha’s in Kirinyaga. According to Moi, Dr Gitari’s intention was to get the world accuse the government of persecuting the clergy.

Indeed, Dr Gitari had hidden in the ceiling to escape from the Kanuyouth wingers.

Moi’s claim on Bishop Muge was even more ridiculous. He accused him of going to a forest with a tape recorder where he was arguing with imaginary security agents. He even dramatised at a public rally the bishop’s “don’t push me!” alleged argument.

Dr Okullu was poetic in his critiques.

When Kenyans were pressing for repeal of Section 2(a) in old constitution which made Kanu the sole political party he warned Kanu hawks: “If you do not want change, change will change you.”