The retired Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki died this week.
“A sombre morning as his Eminence John Cardinal Njue has announced the passing on of His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Raphael Ndingi Mwana ‘a Nzeki. Let us pray for the repose of his soul,” a statement from the Archdiocese of Nairobi reads.
Ndingi was known as a vocal campaigner for democracy in the 90s, and was an outspoken critic of the government of the day for its abuses. It is said he risked his life to support victims of the tribal clashes in the Rift Valley at this same time.
Ndingi was born on Christmas day, 1931 in Mwala, Machakos County. He then joined Kiserian Seminary after completing his primary school education and was ordained as a priest in 1961.
Eight years later in 1961, he was ordained as a bishop served in that capacity in the dioceses of Machakos and Nakuru before being appointed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Nairobi in 1996 as an assistant to the then Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga.
He succeeded Cardinal Otunga on April 21, 1997, as the Archbishop of Nairobi and retired on October 6, 2007, at the age of 75. In August 2019, the retired Archbishop celebrated 50 years since his ordination.
Controversy around Condoms
Ndingi waded into controversy when he opposed the use of condoms to prevent HIV and other STIs.
“There are no two ways about it…When condoms are provided anyhowly, chances of promiscuity increase since a majority of our people end up engaging in casual sex,” he was quoted as saying.
In a departure, however, the Archbishop appeared in a TV advert with other religious leaders to advocate for the A-B-C’s of HIV prevention, something that caused him some bit of controversy.
Though he was Archbishop of Nairobi for almost a decade, Ndingi is hardly ever mentioned or quoted as having been vocal against homosexuality. The only interview he did where he spoke on the matter was done while he was still in office.
“Clearly the Bible teaches that homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sin,” he said.
After his retirement, he was succeeded by John Cardinal Njue, who has been more vocal against homosexuality.