The Quaker Tree in East Africa

By Moses Musonga, former Executive Secretary, Africa Section

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was established in East Africa in 1902. The American Friends Board of foreign missions sent two students to Kenya to survey and report back their findings. The two were students preparing to become Pastors while studying at the Friends Bible Institute, Cleverland, Ohio. They had been inspired by Willis R. Hotchkiss and Peter Scott, the founders of the Africa Interior Mission, later changed to, Africa Inland Church – AIC.

In the Company of Willis Hotchkiss, the two student Pastors, Edgar Hole and Arther Chilson left USA for Kenya by ship from New York on April, 23rd 1902 and arrived Mombasa Port on June 24, 1902. They later proceeded on to Port Florence (now Kisumu) during the 1st week of 1902 by train.

The young missionaries were led by the holy spirit during their trip. Having reached Kisumu, the District Commissioner, Mr. C.W. Hobley received and assisted them in setting up the Quaker Mission work in East Africa.

In their attempt to a find suitable site for a mission station, the two left Kisumu on foot on the 11th July, 1902 through North Eastern Kusumu to Mumias. While there, they met with the Paramount Chief of Mumias (King of Wanga land) who received welcomed and encouraged them to establish a mission station among the North Kavirondo (Luhya tribe) and teach them the word of God.

Having reached Mumias, they proceeded eastwards, through Kakamega and Southwards into Maragoli land. From there they went eastwards into the Nandi land which Bishop Tucker had recommended. The inhabitants proved to be unfriendly; therefore they returned to the land of the Kavirondo people who were friendly.

On Sunday, August 9th, 1902, they experienced a sensation of arrival while at River Galagoli. On the following day, Arthur Childon climbed a tall tree on the mission hill to have a better view of the area. He sighted a place which appeared suitable to camp for worship across the said river.

This was it, Kaimosi mission which became the Quaker Mission station and has remained a centre of inspiration to many souls; a place where many have met and known Christ; a spring board of knowledge to thousands; a life saver like a pool in the sheep gate of Solomon’s porch, where the sick are healed, the hungry are fed and the poor receive the inspiration of hope (Painter).

From this mission station – Kaimosi, other stations were set up in East and Central Africa.

Do you know that the Quakers were among the pioneers of education and development in Kenya?

Brief History of Quaker Achievements in East Africa



1902 The Quakers arrived at Kaimosi and started a mission station known as Friends Africa Mission (FAM)
1903 Kaimosi Friends Hospital was built
1913 The Quakers in Kenya together with other churches formed the Alliance of Protestant Churches (NCCK)
1924 Jean School was founded at Kabete near Nairobi. It was financed by Jean, a Quaker from Philadelphia. This was a school for training primary school teachers and artisans for trades. It has since developed into a public institution known as Kenya Institute of Administration (KIA Complex)
1926 The Alliance of Protestant Churches including the Friends Church founded the prestigious Alliance High School
1935 There were over 200 Local Churches with a total attendance of 19,000 members
1943 Friends Bible Institute (now Friends Theological College) was started at Lugulu and later on transferred to Kaimosi in 1949
1945 The East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends was created
1950 The Quakers in corporation with the City Council of Nairobi started Friends Centre ofafa – Maringo Community Centre for settling displaced and homeless mau mau victims – women and children
1957 Friends School Kamusinga was started
1960 The first advanced Teachers Training College which produced qualified KTI now known as P1 Teachers was started at Kaimosi
1961 Kaimosi Girls High School was started
1963 Lugulu Girls High School was started
1964 The Quakers started the Rural Service Programme
1964 The Quakers in corporation with NCCK and the Ministry of Lands and Settlement started Lugari Farmers Training Centre
1964 Friends United Meeting (FUM) transferred ownership of the Church properties to the East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends (EAYM)-Kaimosi
1965 The Quakers started a mission Station at Kisangura in Tanzania
1971 Friends College Kaimosi (FCK) – College of Research and Technology, one of the first ever advanced Technical College in Kenya to teach applied Science and Technology was started
1971 Friends World Committee for Consultation – Africa Section office was opened at Friends International Centre, Ngong Nairobi
1979 The Friends Church in Kenya (FCK), an umbrella organization for all Quakers in Kenya was initiated
The Quakers in Kenya have established 15 Yearly Meetings, 1,400 Congregation, 515 Primary Schools and more than 200 Secondary Schools
2009 Friends University Kaimosi was started