His Grace Archbishop Raphael S. Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki hails from Mwala in Machakos County.
He was ordained a priest on the 31st of January 1961 by His Grace Archbishop John Joseph McCarthy, C.S.Sp., then Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Nairobi. After his ordination, he worked as the national education secretary on behalf of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.
His Grace then proceeded to the United States of America for further studies at the St. John Fisher College, Rochester New York. Upon completion of his studies, he was appointed on 31st May 1969 as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Machakos. He was consecrated Bishop on the 1st of August 1969 at the famous Namugongo Shrine in Uganda by Blessed Paul VI.
On the 30th of August 1971 he was appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Nakuru where he remained for 25 years. On 14th June 1996 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Nairobi and on 21st April 1997 he succeeded His Eminence Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga as the Archbishop of Nairobi. He retired as Archbishop of Nairobi on the 6th of October 2007 and was succeeded by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue.
Archbishop Ndingi is widely respected for having fearlessly spoken on critical matters affecting the country. He single handedly challenged the establishment during the infamous ethnic clashes that rocked Kenya in the 90s. He repeatedly spoke against abortion and the use of condoms as a solution to the HIV/AIDS plague.
He played a critical role in the education sector from his times as the national education secretary. He favored the establishment of many schools and personally, with the help of friends especially from the United States of America and Ireland, paid for the education of many young men and women. In a review of his biography published in 2010 he was described thus: “A man of prodigious energy, Ndingi played a crucial yet insufficiently appreciated role in some of the most momentous events of our time, including fighting for social justice, fighting for the African traditional values to be respected by the church’s highest authorities in Rome and helping in the growth of education in the country.”
In order to ensure the continued support of the education of promising young Kenyans he desired the establishment of a foundation. Those who assisted in setting up the foundation unanimously agreed that the foundation should be named after one whose contribution to the good of Kenya and to the lives of many young men and women will be difficult to replicate.
Further information on the life and times of Archbishop Raphael S. Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki can be found at the links given below.
Photo credit: Standard Media Group