On 24 August 2000, the Catholic Church in Kenya received shocking news of the untimely death of a well-known priest, Fr. John Anthony Kaiser. His body was found at Morendat near Naivasha town along the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway. The cause of his death could not be ascertained immediately, but it later became clear that unknown assailants had murdered him
National Communications Network News – Nairobi, Kenya
The death of Fr. John Anthony Kaiser led the Kenyan Government to open an Inquest into his death. This was at the request of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). The Inquest ended on 12 June 2007, after hearing from 111 witnesses. The then presiding Magistrate ruled on 1 August 2007, that Fr. Kaiser was murdered, and that the ‘suicide theory’ was based on a preconceived notion. The Magistrate further stated that the court could not, based on evidence tabled at the Inquest, point out with certainty who the priest’s killers were.
A missionary dedicated to Kenya
Fr. John Kaiser was ordained a priest in St. Louis, the USA for the Mill Hill Fathers in 1964. He was then sent to the Mill Hill mission in Kenya where he worked among Kenyan people for 35 years. He ministered in the Catholic Diocese of Kisii for twenty (20) years, and later in the Dioceses of Nakuru and Ngong. As a missionary, he served the poor, advocated justice for the oppressed and respect for their dignity and human rights. At the height of ethnic violence and land clashes in Kenya, 1993, Fr. Kaiser worked among the Internally Displaced Persons in Maela, Nakuru County. The displaced persons were mostly from Enoosupukia in the Diocese of Ngong. Later on, Fr. Kaiser was transferred to Lolgorian Parish in the Diocese of Ngong in Maasai land.
An advocate for justice at the service of the poor
Fr. Kaiser was known and is remembered for his work with Kenya’s vulnerable poor who face injustice and oppression. In his years of pastoral ministry, he served people often forcibly driven out of their ancestral lands. Anyone who spoke out against these evictions faced danger, but this did not stop Fr. Kaiser from speaking out fearlessly. He took it upon himself to live in the camps at Maela, in Narok County, with victims who had been evicted from their land in Eno-Subukia following tribal clashes in the area.
Kenyan Bishops: Do not forget the victims of historical injustices
As the Catholic Church in Kenya remembers Fr. Kaiser, it reminds the nation not to forget the victims of past or historical injustices. These injustices affect the oppressed and vulnerable who have suffered and continue to be oppressed in Kenyan society. The Bishops say injustices continue in Kenyan society because of impunity -the rule of law is not always upheld.
The Kenyan Bishops through the Commission of Justice and Peace has said it wishes for this year’s commemoration to be a continued call for action by all to end impunity.
“We believe in the mission of supporting the vulnerable and speaking on their behalf for the common good. As Jesus told His disciples, ‘You are the light of the world.”’ We are called upon to take that light even into the darkest corners of the country. The fight against injustice and oppression among the poor continues through our work of social justice,” reads a statement signed by the Bishop of Ngong Diocese, John Oballa Owaa, who is also the Bishop-Chair for the KCCB Justice and Peace Commission.