John Bonzanino was born on January 29, 1927 at Biella, in Piedmont, Italy. He entered the IMC (Consolata Missionaries) after completing his secondary education and after his philosophical and theological studies he was ordained on June 28, 1953. In 1954 he was sent to Meru, Kenya, where he remained for sixteen years. He wrote numerous articles and books in excellent Italian and was the founder and editor of the diocesan newspaper Twi ba Meru, (We the people of Meru), in the Meru language, which he spoke fluently. He was also the chaplain of the African Sisters of the Nazareth Congregation founded by Bessone with the help of the Consolata Missionary Sisters. He was first the parish priest of Mujwa and then of Meru town. He was involved in development projects but was equally dedicated to prayer and to the administration of sacraments. From 1970 to 1975 he founded, with the cooperation of other pioneer missionaries, the three missions of Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera in the easternmost part of the NFD (Northern Frontier District). In 1975 he was sent to southern Ethiopia, where, with Fr. John De Marchi and several Consolata confrères, he contributed to the establishment of the vicariate of Medi, tirelessly working for evangelization and human development. He died in the mission of Shashemane on January 30, 1983 and was buried in the mission cemetery of Gighessa.
This article, received in 2005, was reprinted with permission from* Christianity among the Nomads: The Catholic Church in Northern Kenya*, by Paul Tablino, © copyright 2004 by St. Paul Communications / Daughters of St. Paul, Nairobi, Kenya.