KENYA: Church Marks 21st Memorial of Fr John Kaiser, Human Rights Defender

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, AUGUST 24, 2021 (CISA)-The Church in Kenya will hold Fr John Kaiser’s 21st memorial anniversary on August 29 at the dioceses and parishes under the theme, “Stop Violence: Stand for Justice.”

Through an announcement published by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) in the dailies on August 24, the commission noted that it will be a day to remember the oppressed, the poor, and those suffering injustice in our society.

“Twenty-one (21) years after his death, family, relatives, Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM), the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, fellow Christians, members of Human rights groups, Civil society and other people of good-will continue to celebrate his life and remember him for the tireless efforts in advocating for justice for the poor, oppressed and vulnerable and preaching peaceful coexistence,” reads the announcement in part.

Fr John Anthony Kaiser was on August 24, 2000 found dead at Morendat near Naivasha Town, along the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway. The cause of his death could not be ascertained which prompted the Government of Kenya to open an inquest into Fr Kaiser’s death at the request of the Kenya Conference of catholic Bishops.

The inquest ended on June 12 2007, after hearing and gathering evidence from 111 witnesses. On August 1 2007 the then presiding magistrate ruled that Fr Kaiser had been murdered, and that the ‘suicide theory’ was based on pre-conceived notion. She further stated that she could not, on the basis of evidence tabled before her in the inquest, point out with certainty who killed the priest.

Born in Perham, Minnesota United States of America on November 23, 1932, Fr Kaiser was ordained in St. Louis for the Mill Hill Fathers in 1964, and was sent to their mission in Kenya the same year. He worked in the Catholic diocese of Kisii for 20 years; and later in the dioceses of Nakuru and Ngong.

As a missionary the announcement reads, “he served the poor, advocated for justice for the oppressed and respect for human rights. At the height of ethnic violence and land clashes in Kenya in 1993, Fr Kaiser worked with displaced persons at Maela Internally Displaced Persons’ Camp in the diocese of Nakuru. They had been displaced from Enoosupukia within diocese of Ngong. Fr Kaiser later transferred to Lolgorian Parish-Ngong diocese in Maasai Land.”