Tuye, Adano Andrew
Andrew Adano Tuye was the first bishop from a nomadic background in the Anglican Church of Kenya.
Andrew Adano Tuye was the second child and second son of Tuye Guyo and Chuluke Tuye. He was born in 1948 in the rocky and arid Dida-Galgalu belt, about seventy kilometers north of Marsabit. Adano and his family were Gabbras and lived a nomadic lifestyle, without modern amenities. His family, which included his parents, six brothers and three sisters, was part of a large village or manyatta.
Adano grew up a healthy, active child, with a knack for hard work. Even at a tender age, his intelligence and leadership qualities were obvious. He was often the leader in games with other children in the village. Born in a nomadic community which kept large numbers of camels, goats, and sheep,-livestock on which they depended for their daily milk and meat,-Adano, like other Gabbra children, was destined to be a herdsman.
Nevertheless, at age thirteen, Adano went to a boarding primary school in Marsabit. His parents, who loved him very much, did not want to let him go away because he was very obedient and responsible, the one who never lost the family’s camels, even during the many long desert nights. Generally, the Gabbra people were reluctant to send their children to school because they were afraid their children would learn a new language and culture that threatened their unity and identity as a nomadic people. Nevertheless, thanks to the efforts of Stephen Houghton, a missionary with the Bible Christian Missionary Society (BCMS), Adano’s parents allowed him to go to school.
During his school years, Adano started attending church as often as possible. When he was seventeen, he asked his parents’ permission to become a Christian and they accepted. He was baptized in 1962. Nine years later, he became totally converted when he received Jesus Christ as his Savior. His life changed completely. He spent most of his time with Mr. and Mrs. Houghton, under whose guidance he passionately undertook an intensive discipleship program as they helped him to search the Scriptures.
As a Christian, Adano refused to participate in community rituals and feasts saying that animal sacrifice was no longer a requirement for those who had life in Jesus Christ. Even though this brought him trouble and pressure from his parents and the community at large, he firmly and politely stood his ground. Finally, in a surprising turn of events, his parents let him choose his own course and gave him their blessing. Many people believed that it was thanks to God’s grace and also to his parents’ support that Adano continued to be accepted and respected in the community, despite his refusal to take part in their sacrifices.
After training as a P3 teacher (primary teacher basic training) from 1969 to 1970 at St. Mark’s Teachers College in Kigari, Embu, Adano taught at St. Peter’s Primary School, Sagante, in Marsabit district for two years. During his time there, Adano traveled to Dida-Galgalu and other villages during the holidays as a teacher and an evangelist, going from one manyatta to another, preaching where Christ had never been proclaimed. He was determined to turn the villages to Christ. As a teacher, he convinced some of his people to send their children to school.
Adano repeatedly felt a call to the sacred ministry. So, following the procedure for making decisions among the Gabbra, he approached the elders at Dida-Galgalu and asked for their blessing to leave teaching and become a minister. His father agreed and gave him his blessing, but perhaps no one was happier than Stephen Houghton. During the next two years, Adano studied at Macgregor Bible School, Weithaga, in Murang’a district where he stood out among the other students for his humility.
In December 1974, Adano was ordained a deacon by Bishop Obadiah Kariuki-the first Gabbra to reach such a position in the Anglican Church. Afterwards he was posted to Thika parish where he served for one year,-a year which had a great impact on his life. On January 21, 1976, he was ordained to the priesthood and appointed the first vicar of Moyale parish. As parish vicar, in addition to his other parish duties, he helped refugees from Ethiopia settle in the area. It is said that in September 1976 he baptized forty-one people in one service. Even as vicar of Moyale, he had a strong desire to evangelize the nomadic people of northern Kenya. In May 1978, Bishop Gitari granted his request and sent him to be vicar of Bubisa parish, serving the Gabbra and other neighboring nomadic peoples.
When Bishop Gitari asked what the diocese could do to help him evangelize in this vast, rocky, dry area where the Gabbra lived, Adano surprised the synod by answering, “Buy me a camel, two mules and a tent.” God provided and Stone Church, in New Brunswick, Canada, sent funds to buy a camel which Adano used for his evangelistic and pastoral journeys to Gabbra villages. Adano followed his people wherever they went, pitching his tent wherever they camped, setting his animals out to graze with theirs, and proclaiming the message of salvation to them. He lived among his people and used every opportunity to present the Gospel to them. For example, he preached to them as they sat on rocks watching their camels, cattle, and goats in the desert.
On December 6, 1980, Adano married Helen in a church wedding conducted by Bishop Gitari. This was the second Christian church wedding without traditional rituals to take place among the Gabbra people.
On September 13, 1984, he began studies at All Nations Christian College in England, graduating in July 1985 with a diploma in missiological and cultural studies. After his graduation, he served as acting rector of Stone Church, in Canada, for six weeks while rector Rev. Tom Robinson was under medication after heart surgery. After the six weeks he returned to Kenya.
Adano’s hard work as a parish priest did not go unnoticed. On July 4, 1993, Archbishop Manasses Kuria consecrated him assistant bishop of the diocese of Kirinyaga. Adano became the first bishop from a nomadic background in the Anglican church of Kenya.
Both as parish priest and assistant bishop, Adano focused his attention on improving people’s everyday circumstances. His evangelism was holistic, never confined purely to the fringes of the spiritual, but practical, always taking into consideration people’s immediate social and physical realities as well as their spiritual needs. Arguing that one cannot divorce evangelism and development, he initiated water, health, and education projects. He helped dig boreholes, and start dispensaries and schools. Since animal care was an important priority for the people, he organized seminars and advised communities on the proper use of animal licks and medicine. With the support of World Vision, he established mission stations. He encouraged people to build churches with resources available to them. He contextualized the Gospel according to Gabbra culture but strongly opposed syncretism among Christians. The church grew fast under his leadership.
Adano opposed tribal fighting among the nomads and is remembered for his love for peace. He sought to reconcile the Borana and the Burji people in their inter-ethnic clashes. He always emphasized that Christians must be peacemakers. As assistant bishop he was able to increase evangelism and development efforts in northern Kenya. His vision was to see the church grow to the point of being self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-governing, according to Henry Venn’s principles.
His vision to provide training for people so they would be better equipped to serve the church became a reality when St. Stephen’s Evangelist Training Center was built with funds from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wurttenberg, Germany. Adano also encouraged involvement by women and the youth in the church by giving them leadership roles and a voice in all decision-making processes. In fact, he supported women’s ordination. He also promoted Christian partnership among different churches and showed his deep commitment to interdenominational solidarity by organizing numerous interdenominational fellowships.
Last but not least of his achievements, was the translation of the entire Bible into the Borana/Oromo language. He played a major role as advisor and coordinator of the translation work. Adano’s ultimate desire was to see his flock changed and transformed by the Word and Spirit of God.
After twenty-two years of service to the church, Adano was killed in a plane crash on July 27, 1996, along with several top ranking government officials while on a peacekeeping mission in northern Kenya. He was only forty-eight years old. He is survived by his wife Helen Kabale and four children, Tony, Grace, Immanuel, and Sara (2005).
Alfred Sheunda Keyas
Jane Gitau, “Anglican Bishop Killed in Air Crash,” *Anglican Communion News Service *(ACNS), London, August 1, 1996, no. 936. Web address: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/32/75/acns3280.html (accessed on February 18 and 19, 2005).
John Mwendwa, The Gospel on a Camel’s Back: The Story of Andrew Adano Tuye, (Nairobi, Kenya: National Council of Churches of Kenya, 1998).
“P.C and Bishop Perish in Plane Crash” in Sunday Standard Newspaper, no. 864, Nairobi, July 28, 1996.
This story, submitted in 2005, was researched and written by Rev. Alfred Sheunda Keyas, a priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), diocese of Mumias, serving as a missionary in Mwingi, Eastern Kenya Province, and DACB Project Luke fellow (2004-2005).