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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.34  supl.1 Pretoria abr. 2008


The struggle against patriarchalism in Kenya (1980 - 1992): Revisiting the history of women ministries



Julius Gathogo

School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Scottsville, South Africa




The recommendation to ordain women as full priests in the Anglican Church was first made at the Lambeth Conference of 1978. Usually, Lambeth Conferences are held every ten years and all bishops of the Anglican Communion normally attend them. In the Kenyan context, the House of Bishops began to discuss the ordination of women as early as the 1980s. This was a follow-up to the deliberations of the abovementioned Lambeth Conference at which member churches were given the go-ahead to consider women ordination. Ultimately, the Kenyan Anglican Province agreed in principle that women could be ordained and that each diocese was to be autonomous in taking up the issue. In Kirinyaga Diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya, the then Bishop, David Gitari, raised the issue of women ordination in four consecutive diocesan synods, i.e. 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1986. This article seeks to describe the history of women ordination in the Anglican Church of Kenya, with special reference to Kirinyaga Diocese. In so doing, it will first attempt to locate the Anglican Communion in general and then narrow it down to Kirinyaga Diocese. In its methodology, the article will start by attempting a survey of the history and traditions of the Anglican Church in Kenya. In turn, it will be able to point out the reasons why women ordination in the locality was problematic - as both history and the patriarchal nature of the society militated against its success. The article will attempt to demonstrate that as women ordination finally took root, it turned out to be very successful. The materials in this presentation have been gathered through oral interviews with relevant individuals whose identities have been kept confidential, as well as by participant observation by the researcher who was an eyewitness to the larger part of this debate. An extensive reading of some materials under discussion has also been done. The aim of the article is to laud the critical role of those who have gallantly participated in this "new struggle" to deconstruct patriarchy and clericalism; and in the African context, Mercy Amba Oduyoye is foremost in deserving this honour.



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1 Dr Julius Gathogo is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His email is or He also lectures African Studies at Bishop Hannington Institute, Mombasa, Kenya. BHI is an affiliate of St Paul's University. He can be contacted by mail through: Bishop Hannington Institute, PO BOX 81150-80100 Mombasa, Kenya.

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