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Njoya, Timothy
b. 1941
Presbyterian
Kenya


Dr. Timothy Njoya is an outspoken critic of the Kenyan government on issues of corruption, injustice and democratization. He has also played an instrumental role in the formation of an opposition party in the country.

Njoya was born on April 7, 1941 to Njoya and Wandia, peasants living in Ngoru village, Nyeri District, Central Province in Kenya during the colonial period. Finally, after years of British oppression, mounting feelings of unrest led to the birth of the independence movement, known as the Mau Mau Uprising, into which all males were recruited.

Njoya attended school in spite of his family's poverty. He was converted and called to the ministry in 1956, prompted by the oppression and injustice suffered by his people under colonial rule. He was ordained in 1967 by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. In 1971 he earned his Masters' degree and later in 1976 a Ph.D from Princeton University, U.S.A. Njoya speaks Kikuyu, Swahili, and English fluently. He is married to Wambui and they have five children.

He has served in different parishes including Chuka, Tumutumu, Mathari, St. Andrews, Dagoretti, and currently at Kinoo PCEA parish. Njoya started to publicly protest the Kenyan government's autocracy and injustice when he was serving at St. Andrews, next to Nairobi University. He attacked the single party state and advocated multipartism in his sermons, strongly defending the freedom of expression and association granted in the constitution.

He was arrested on several occasions. Government officials told him to "leave politics to politicians" and politicians condemned his views whenever possible, making him more popular with the masses. The fact that the press popularized Njoya's ideas was a constant source of trouble for him.

When he dared to condemn the church for remaining silent about the government's activities and social injustices, Njoya was dismissed from St. Andrews Church. His clerical collar and garments were taken away from him and he was ordered out of the pulpit until he changed his ways. He obediently submitted to the discipline of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and remained silent for a time.

As soon as he was restored to his position, Njoya again clashed with the government. By this time, the masses had been sensitized to the ideas of democracy and multipartism and change was inevitable. Njoya, along with politicians and other activists organized a large gathering, which was to be the birth of the opposition party in Kenya. The famous Saba Saba multiparty demonstrations held at Kamukunji park were an important landmark in Njoya's ministry. From that point on, Kenya was on the road to a multiparty government and the first multiparty general elections took place in 1992. During this time, Njoya was the spokesperson among the churches for democracy and led many peaceful demonstrations against corruption and injustice. Each time, the security officers beat him and the other leaders.

As a leading opponent of government injustice, when asked why he was so adamant in his views, Njoya said "humans were created in God's image, therefore they deserve dignity and respect; oppression and injustice are foreign to God's Kingdom principles." He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate.

Francis Manana


Bibliography:

Violet A. Khasiani and Sarah Muturi, interview, Pan Africa Christian College, Nairobi, Kenya.
Nantawan Boomprast Lewis, "The Conversion, Incarnation, and Creation: The New Context in African Theology." in Revolution of Spirit: Ecumenical Theology in Global Context (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman's, 1996): 171-186.
Timothy Njoya, Human Dignity and National Identity: Essentials for Social Ethics (Nairobi, Kenya: Press Trust Printers, 1987).
--------, Out of Silence: A Collection of Sermons (Nairobi, Kenya: Beyond Magazine, 1987).
--------, The Political Economy of the Holy Spirit (Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 1990).
--------, "What it Means to be a Christian in Kenya Today" in A Vision of Christian Mission: Reflections of the Great Commission in 1943-1993, ed. Margaret Crouch (Nairobi, Kenya: National Council of Churches of Kenya, 1993): 213-216.


This story, submitted in 2000, was researched by Dr. Francis Manana, Professor of Evangelism and Missions and DACB Liaison Coordinator, Pan African Christian College, Nairob