Kogari Church of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) in Embu Diocese was founded by a woman known as Diana Ng’ou Njagi who was married to Noman Njagi Kirethiu. Mama Diana was Njagi’s first wife and her co-wife was Jane Tharaka Njagi. Mama Diana had five daughters and no sons. This may have been the reason why her husband married another wife so as to get sons. She was a respected woman for her kindness and great concern for the people. She was a prophetess and had visions that she could tell to the church members. Many of her prophesies came to pass. She is the one who founded ACK Kogari Church, in Ndeleru Sub-location, in Kamarandi location, in Embu County, Kenya.
Early and Religious Life
Diana Ng’ou Njagi was born in 1927 in Kanyuaa village, Kamarandi Location in Embu County. Her father was Matumu and her mother Ciarunji. She had brothers whose names were Mwenje and Mukundu and her sister was Monica Wanjue. From her young age, Mama Diana had respect for the elderly people and most of her time she sang songs that contained a revelation from God. People referred to her as a prophetess because most of the things she told them came to pass.
Mama Diana did not receive any formal education because at that time the girl child was very much undermined and families did not see the need to educate girls. Although she had never received any formal education, she was very intelligent. She could talk about God’s message to anyone among her people. She had learned about God’s message when she had attended church school. She was the only member of her family who had attended church. Her parents had been totally against any of their children going to church. Mama Diana tried as much as possible to convince them and her siblings to accept Christ but they went on to hate her.
During that time, girls were being married by force. As a result, in 1947, after attaining the age of twenty, Mama Diana was married to a man known as Noman Njagi Kirethiu. After her marriage, she noticed that her husband attended church services. However, they had to walk for a long distance before getting to the church at ACK Karangare. Mama Diana felt the need to start an Anglican Church around their village and she shared her idea with her husband Noman. Noman agreed but urged her to wait as he wanted to marry a second wife.
In 1951, Noman married Jane Tharaka as his second wife. Since Mama Diana was a faithful Christian, she accepted Jane and they lived in the same room. Jane was so young and Mama Diana would encourage her. They worked together. Noman allowed Mama Diana to continue with the idea of starting a church. At that time, Mama Diana was not baptized though she had an urge to work for God and she could say that she had a calling. In 1958, her calling to begin the church increased. She visited the ACK Karangare parish vicar and asked for permission to begin a church near their area. For some reason, the vicar was against the idea and told her that they should continue attending ACK Karangare church while they waited for response from the Bishop.
In 1968, Mama Diana was asked to mobilize people from the area and her husband Njagi was the first person to take part in the mobilization. One year after the mobilization, in 1969, Diana had looked for a place near Kogari Primary school. People agreed to meet there every Sunday for worship. In December 1969, Bishop Obadiah Kariuki visited them and supported the beginning of a new congregation at Kogari.
Mama Diana became the chairperson. Since she could neither not write nor read, she gave the chairmanship of the new church to Hon. Jeremiah Nyaga. Her role was just to organize the church meetings. Willliam Nthukah became the secretary and Ngungi Kauwa the treasurer. Mama Diana bought five iron sheets for the roofing of the church. Later, Jeremiah, William and Ngungi each bought one iron sheet to add to what Mama Diana had bought. Mama Diana invited the ACK Karangare parish vicar to meet the church members and he allowed their congregation to belong to ACK Karangare Parish. Mama Diana bought a few chairs for the church with the little income they got from farming. Her co-wife Jane and her husband Njagi also supported her in buying drums. On October 24, 1974, she was baptized. Her husband and co-wife were baptized the following year, in 1975. Mama Diana was good in building up the church members spiritually and this influenced many members to be baptized. A good example of this was Francis Muzee Munyambo, a traditionalist who accepted to be baptized and became an active member of the church.
Mama Diana could not read the Bible but she knew some Bible verses. Sometimes, she asked someone to read these verses for her so she could preach about the verses. Her hard work in God’s service encouraged many women, especially Dellina Mutume, who also became active in preaching. On February 5, 1977, Mama Diana was confirmed by Bishop David Gitari of Mount Kenya East Diocese and became a full member of the church. She gave her possessions to the poor during their pastoral visits from Wednesday to Friday. She also led the Saturday fellowship meetings which they called ngwataniro. Mama Diana encouraged many baptized people to be confirmed so as to celebrate Holy Communion. Although she could not read, she knew many worship songs that were usually sung in Kikuyu. She listened as people sang and memorized the whole song which she could lead in the Church.
When she fell sick and was unable to walk to church, she asked the lay leaders to visit her every Sunday to read the scripture and pray with her. Her situation worsened and she died on December 30, 2015.
The ACK Kogari child development center is a result of Mama Diana’s vision. She had prophesied that a stranger would come and be a refugee in that area and that after getting back to his country, he would come back with harvest from his country and give it to the Kogari people. Thus, this project that was built by the missionaries is seen as a fulfillment of her prophesy. Many children are sponsored through this project and well-wishers from the United States of America and other parts of the world visit the area and assist the needy children.
Dickson Nkonge Kagema
Mugambi, JNK, ed. (1992). A Church Comes of Age: Fifty Years of Revival in the CPK Diocese of Embu, 1992-1992. Nairobi: Acton.
Muthoni, Jane Purity (2016). Oral Interview, Kogari.
Provincial Unit of Research. Rabai to Mumias: A Short History of the Church of the Province of Kenya. Nairobi: PUR.
This article, received in 2017, was written by Dickson Nkonge Kagema, PhD. Dr. Kagema is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies & Philosophy at Chuka University in Kenya and Research Associate in Practical Theology & Missiology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is a Canon in the Anglican Church of Kenya. His email is [email protected].