Archbishop David Gitari was a fearless crusader against oppression in all its manifestations. He was particularly active through the 1980s and the 1990s, when the Kanu dictatorship was at its peak.
His bravery acts nearly cost him his life in 1989, when thugs broke into his home. But even that did little to silence the Anglican bishop.
Born in 1937 to an evangelist father in Ngiriambu, Kirinyaga, Gitari’s path to the helm of the Anglican Church in Kenya began after he earned a degree from the University of Nairobi.
He became a student-evangelist, travelling to Bristol, UK, and other places to spread the gospel. That experience played a critical role in his later work as it combined the spirit of a man thrilled by adventure with the calm, reflective demeanour required of a bishop.
Gitari was ordained in 1972. He became Bishop of Mount Kenya East from 1975 to 1990, and from 1990 to 1997, the Bishop of Kirinyaga, before becoming the Archbishop of Kenya until his retirement in 2002.
One of his earliest public acts of dissent was a series of live radio talks on an NCCK slot called “Lift Up Your Nation” aired on the Voice of Kenya in 1975. The talks centred on the murder of J.M. Kariuki.
Gitari also drew extensively from history. He used historical context to inspire his audience into understanding their place in the world, and to understand the demerits of failing to speak up.
Archbishop Gitari died in 2013.