The man who would be primate
*The story first appeared in Kenya Weekly, a magazine I contribute to.
When on September 22nd, 2002 he was declared Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Benjamin Nzimbi had just chalked up one more climb in his now controversial life and ministry.
Born on October 17th, 1945 in Kitui District, the primate had began a life of wrestling with ideas early in his days at Ithookwe primary school in Kitui, and Mulutu Intermediate School, before proceeding to Kitui Secondary and Shimo La Tewa School for his “O” and “A” levels respectively.
Between 1968 and 1969, he trained at Kenyatta Training College, these days Kenyatta University, as a teacher, before pursuing studies in religion and philosophy at the University of Nairobi between 1971 and 1974.
He would later pursue studies with various institutions, the most prominent of which would be the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity in 1986 and Hamline University in Minnesota, the United States, where he attained a masters’ degree in management for non-profit organizations.
Concurrent with his progress in academia would be his rise as an educator with the Ministry of Education, in 1984 eclipsed by his appointment as Vicar of St. Francis Parish in Karen, Nairobi.
He would between April 1985 and March 1995 serve as bishop of Machakos Diocese, before moving to Kitui in the same capacity till his appointment as archbishop of the ACK.
In his current position, he heads various Church and para-Church organizations in Kenya and Africa.
In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Decoration of the Moran of the Burning Spear.
In the time since the gay controversy emerged within the worldwide Anglican Communion, Archbishop Nzimbi has come to be identified with Nigeria’s Peter Akinola as among the foremost conservatives in the Communion’s global South.
“People misunderstand Akinola and me but, speaking for myself, I can confidently say we are standing up for the truth,” he says.
Battered by the Church’s perceived coziness with President Mwai Kibaki in the latter’s first term and the disputed polls in 2007, the prelate says his admission that the Church had been wrong should be a pointer that Church-State relations will change.
Observers point to the post-2007 Kenya and the gay controversy as some of the issues that could well define Nzimbi’s tenure at the helm of Kenya’s second largest denomination.
He has been married to Alice Kavula since August 17th, 1974 with whom they have been blessed with Martha (1975), a student of leadership in the United States; Paul, a youth pastor; Neema, a secretary; Peter, a curate in a parish and Andrew, a worker at World Vision.
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