NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan Catholics are mourning the death of Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki, 88, the retired Nairobi archbishop who died March 30 after a long illness.
Cardinal John Njue announced his predecessor’s death and asked for prayers for the late archbishop, who invested heavily in education.
“Besides his role as a religious leader, the late archbishop dedicated himself to the protection of the weak and the fight for justice and never shied away from doing the right thing, and in doing so, he distinguished himself as a servant leader and role model,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a message of condolence to the family and the church.
The archbishop fought for political reforms in Kenya in 1990s. With election-related ethnic clashes in 1992 killing hundreds in the Rift Valley, Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki told then-President Daniel arap Moi to his face to stop “the evil deeds of his government.”
The archbishop was born Dec. 25, 1931, in Machakos County. He studied at a seminary in Tanzania and was ordained a priest of Nairobi Archdiocese in 1961.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI appointed him the bishop of Machakos Diocese, where he served until 1971. In 1972, was transferred to Nakuru Diocese, where he served until 1996. The same year, he was made Nairobi Archdiocese coadjutor, serving as an assistant to Cardinal Maurice Otunga.
In 1997, he became Nairobi’s archbishop and served until retirement in 2007.