The Quaker Tree in East Africa
By Moses Musonga
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
|The Quakers arrived at Kaimosi and started a mission station known as Friends Africa Mission (FAM)|
|Kaimosi Friends Hospital was built|
|The Quakers in Kenya together with other churches formed the Alliance of Protestant Churches (NCCK)|
|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)|
|The Alliance of Protestant Churches including the Friends Church founded the prestigious Alliance High School|
|There were over 200 Local Churches with a total attendance of 19,000 members|
|Friends Bible Institute (now Friends Theological College) was started at Lugulu and later on transferred to Kaimosi in 1949|
|The East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends was created|
|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|
|Friends School Kamusinga was started|
|The first advanced Teachers Training College which produced qualified KTI now known as P1 Teachers was started at Kaimosi|
|Kaimosi Girls High School was started|
|Lugulu Girls High School was started|
|The Quakers started the Rural Service Programme|
|The Quakers in corporation with NCCK and the Ministry of Lands and Settlement started Lugari Farmers Training Centre|
|Friends United Meeting (FUM) transferred ownership of the Church properties to the East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends (EAYM)-Kaimosi|
|The Quakers started a mission Station at Kisangura in Tanzania|
|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|
|Friends World Committee for Consultation – Africa Section office was opened at Friends International Centre, Ngong Nairobi|
|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|
|Friends University Kaimosi was started|
A Detailed Profile of Yearly Meetings and Worship Groups in Africa
1. Elgon Religious Society of Friends – Lugulu (Quakers)-Kenya
- Presiding Clerk – Amos A. Dodo
- General Superintendent – John W. Ngoya
- General Secretary – Peter Kiliswa
- Vice Presiding Clerk – Jairus Wafula
- Recording Clerk – Margaret Wanyonyi Inguzi
- Reading Clerk – Moses Walumoli
- Treasurer – John Masinde
- Quakermen Chairman – Nathan Sakari
- USFW Clerk – Beatrice Khakina
- YFP Chairman – Moses Walela
The Yearly Meeting has 22 Quartely Meetings, 76 Monthly Meetings, and 219 Village Meetings with a total of over 30,000 members. The Yearly Meeting sponsors 80 Primary schools, 56 Secondary Schools and 4 Youth Polytechnics. It has 2 health facilities known as, Friends Lugulu Mission Hospital and Machwele Dispensary.
19 Trained Pastors, 3 Lay Pastors and 500 Evangelists.
The USFW has purchased a mini bus for generating income for the Church. They have established a “Webuye Friends Centre” in Webuye Town. The Yearly Meeting has put up a modern office that is in full operation with all departmental offices at Lugulu Mission.
2. Bware Yearly Meeting of Friends, Kenya
- Presiding Clerk – Daniel Olesiakati
- Vice Presiding Clerk – Philip Mwangale
- Recording Clerk – Monica Dalizo
- Reading Clerk – Herbert Onchiri
- Treasurer – Herbert Gwiyanga
- Vice Treasurer – Sarah Swanya
- Quakermen Chairman – Zacheli Omwoyo
- USFW Clerk – Alice Suba
- YFP Chairman – Richard Omese
Bware Yearly Meeting was inaugurated on 26th June, 1994. The headquarter is situated five kilometers, East of the Kisii-Migori-Isebania Road from Oyani.
It covers the following Districts: Migori, Kuria, Kisii, Gucha, Transmara and Nyamira.
It has about 7,200 members (adults and children inclusive)
It has 57 village meetings, 32 Monthly Meetings and 12 Quarterly Meetings. They have done away with regions as per their New constitutional amendment.
The Yearly Meeting sponsors 18 Primary Schools, 12 Secondary Schools, 2 Special Unit Schools, (the Deaf and Mentally Disabled), 3 Health Centres and 1 Youth Polytechnic. Each Primary School has a pre-unit or Nursery school attached to it.
They have 40 Pastors
Few are trained, while others need full course or short courses
- General Superintendent – Pastor Epainitus Adego
- General Secretary – Samuel Kaguli Omondi
- Education Secretary – Henry Mkutu
- Rural Service Programme (Field Worker) – Ibrahim Ongenche
- Josphat Avedi Onde
- Lawrence Ndega Nagide
- Kennedy Onchiri
- Enos Kebeya
- Johnston Nyanchiri
- Peter Obesa
- Epainitus Adego Ominde
- Consolata Oloo
Completion of the construction of the Yearly Meeting Head-quarters and equipping the office. More Seminars/workshops on Leadership. Initiate projects and funding of activities involving youths, women and men groups. Their concern is to see that we involve our members to initiate small income generating projects by using the resources they have.
(a) Lack of enough finance
(b) Lack of enough Pastors
(c) Political interference in Secondary School Staffing of head teachers
3. The Nigerian Friends
The Nigerian Friends started as a small worship group in Lagos in the early 1990s consisting of about 15 Friends. The late Kay Williams and Shima Gyoh decided to have a meeting of all the Friends in Nigeria. The first gathering was held in Lagos in 1995 at Kay Williams private house in Kaiama, Bayelsa State deep in Nigeria Delta. They chose Easter weekend as the most appropriate period for holding their Annual gathering because it has 4 days of Public holidays. They have then developed a pattern of activities during their Annual Conference as follows:
The programme starts at 7pm with dinner, followed by the first session known as “spiritual journey”. This is an introductory session at which they get to know one another. Each delegate narrates their spiritual journey through life. People from other Religious Groups including Muslims come to learn something about Quakers. They too share their spiritual journey. They end up the session by drawing a programme for the subsequent two days and then finalize the session with silent worship.
(Extracted from the Nigerian Friends Newsletter)
4. The Religious Society of Friends In Ghana
In 1925 an expatriate staff caseload had come to establish the famous Achimota School and college. Among them were Quakers who needed a place to worship. They therefore established a meeting for worship and invited their fellow staff Quaker worship to join them. They also welcomed students who wished to be introduced to the Quaker way of worshipping. These are the ones who built the Hill House Meeting. It is open sided and thatch roofed on a concrete floor, imbedded in a stone and concrete floor. The property is jointly owned by Achimota School and the Religious Society of Friends of Ghana. The Friends do maintain and furnish the House.
The membership of Quakers at Hill House fluctuates depending on the incoming and outgoing of the students and college staff. There was a time in 1940s when the meeting of Friends at Hill House lapsed. Thanks to God for the coming in of a British Quaker woman who was married by a Ghanaian civil servant. She revived the meeting for worship between1947s to 1948. Again when the couple was transferred, the meeting for worship virtually became moribund. In 1953, the Society of Friends in Ghana erupted life again. This was so because the British Quaker woman and her husband were re-posted to Accra. Her husband had also become a Quaker.
There were a sizeable number of Quakers and their families who were working at Achimota School and college. There were also other people from Accra and other parts of Ghana who had developed interest to join the Quakers.
5. Chavakali Yearly Meeting
- Presiding Clerk –Manoah Esolio
- Vice Presiding Clerk – Elab Malenge
- Recording Clerk – James Mugenya
- Reading Clerk- Cossam Ogonda
- Treasurer – Ephraim Adika
- Vice Treasurer – Joshua Ombima
The Yearly Meeting was established on 11th May 1997, curved from East Africa Yearly Meeting of Friends South (now Vihiga Yearly Meeting).
- General Secretary – Elijah Mwavali
- General Superintendant – Hezekiah Buliva
- USFW Chairlady – Serah Eganza
- Quakermen Chairman – Wilson Vitemo
- YFP Chairperson – Onzere Lumwaji
Local Meetings 55 Monthly Meetings 25 Quarterly Meetings 11
Adults 5,497 Children and Youth 5,034 Total 10,531
Pastors and Evangelists
Trained 42 Evangelistsh 1 Total 43
Pastors have been deployed to Local Meetings, Monthly Meetings and Schools.
Nursery Schools 28 Primary Schools 26 Secondary 10 Bible School 1 Health Centers and Clinics 2
The Yearly Meeting has installed electricity in both Yearly Meeting offices, Rental Houses and the Church. They have also connected telephone in the office: Tel. no.056-51357, Bought a Keyboard, Developed a tea farm and planted Napier grass, bananas, sorghum and cows for producing milk, Tree planting in all the churches is going on.
They are involved in: The HIV/AIDS infected and affected persons home-based care projects, including Self Help Groups and Women Groups.
- Acquire woodwork and sewing machines for training our youths.
- Obtain some computers and a printer to enhance communication.
- Improve our financial status
- Lack of enough finance
- Lack of enough Pastors
- Political interference in our Secondary School
- Staffing of Headteachers
Acquire woodwork and sewing machines
6. Vokoli Yearly Meeting Kenya
- Presiding Clerk – Lumasia Gershom
- Vice Presiding Clerk – Joseph Endovo
- General Secretary – Ephraim Mudoga
- General Superintendent – Timothy Kisago
- USFW Clerk – Febe Endovelia
- Quakermen Clerk Chairman – Herbert Indiaka
- YFP Chairman – Mbarani
Vokoli Yearly Meeting was established in 1996. They Southern Friends Yearly Meeting (Vihiga Yearly Meeting)
To build a Christ Centred Church
The church endeavours to glorify God by evangelizing people for Christ and ministering to the needs of all through worship.
We have 61 village meetings, 25 monthly meetings, 11 Quarterly meetings with a total membership of over 5,000 members.
We have youth programmes, Agriculture, tree planting, family life education programme, HIV/AIADS programme for orphans, widows/widowers.
We have accomplished the following projects:
- Rental houses, installation of electricity in our church and water provision. Our planned projects are to construct complex block to house administrative offices, hostel and Library. We are in the process of buying musical instruments for youths to enhance evangelism and church extension.
- We have realized a high sense of cooperation among leaders and members. We have laid a very firm foundation of understanding through team building. There is a co-existence between United Society of Friends Women and Quakermen movements in enhancing greater achievement.
- One of our greatest achievements was the posting of pastors to almost every village meeting with effect from January 2007. We have a total of 55 pastors trained at Kaimosi Friends Theological College and Vihiga Bible College. Vokoli Yearly Meeting is planning to send ten young people to Friends Theological College for training every year in order to assume more responsibility in the village meetings. Our emphasis is to evangelize and win more souls to Christ.
- We have set up programmes on HIV/AIDS and support for people living in poverty and distress. This year, we are reviewing our constitution with a view to incorporating new changes that are emerging within our members. We put in place a proposal to undertake strategic planning of our Yearly Meeting programmes by using participatory methodology.
7. Central Yearly Meeting Kenya
- Presiding Clerk – Joshua Musungu
- Vice Presiding Clerk – Nathan Mukwana
- General Secretary – Seth Shikunzi
- General Superintendent – Aggrey Karoli
- USFW Clerk – Deborah Lijodi
- Quakermen Clerk Chairman – Hudson Karani
- YFP Chairman – Wilson Siema
7 Quarterly Meetings, 25 Monthly meetings, 69 village meeting, tTotal population of members is 11,003
Schools – 38 Primary Schools, 10 Secondary Schools, 2 Polytechnics
We have trained pastors, 3 are undergoing training at Kaimosi, 1 has completed a masters degree in America, 70 Evangelists
Main activities: Bee keeping, construction of a Health Center, we want to start a radio station.
Young Quakers Christian Association (Yqca)
After the world gathering of Young Friends held at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA 19th – 26th July 1985, the African Youth who participated in this world even gathered together with a view of making follow ups of the World Gathering of Young Friends (WGYF). They requested the FWCC African Section to co-ordinate this process.
On 8th December 1985, Young Quakers Association was launched at Mbale Friends School, Kenya. It was initiated by FWCC Africa Section. In 1991, it held its first International Gathering at Chavakali Friends School, Kenya.
A vibrant unified Spiritual Association of Young Adult Friends.
- To promote Quaker mission and service work in Africa and help those seeking spiritual experience to meet Christ as their personal Saviour.
- To promote consultations amongst Young Adult Friends.
- To encourage Young Quakers as stewards to give some of their time, energy and property.
- To promote Young Adult exchange programs. To help build bridges of co-operation, love, understanding, peace, unity and global networking amongst Friends.
Young Quakers Christian Association has been and is involved in various activities that encourage and boost the morale and participation of Young people as contained in its objectives. Such activities include Triennial Conferences, leadership seminars and workshops, inter-yearly meeting visitations among others. Since the last triennial we managed to have two triennials at Kanamai 2005, in Mombasa, Kenya 2003 and Kigali, Rwanda 2006 respectively. In both Triennials, the attendance was ranging from about 150 in 2003 to about 200 in 2006. Between the triennials, we managed to have a leadership workshop at Mabanga in Kenya. In this workshop, the Association embarked on developing leadership skills to the emerging youth who in turn have started picking up active leadership roles in our Yearly Meetings and the Quaker fraternity. The youths have also managed to learn the diversities of Quakers around the world.
Besides the three major evens, the Association in partnership with other young people from all the Sections of the world, participated in the planning and organizing of the World Gathering of Young Friends that took place in Lancaster, August 2005. Many young people from Africa could not attend because they were denied visas by the British. Out of 70 young people from Africa Section who had applied for the visas, only 6 managed to get. However, a similar gathering was arranged in Kenya and those who had failed to attend the Lancaster one joined the rest at Kanamai in Kenya.
Most Yearly meetings in Africa do not consider the recommended age brackets of youths as an issue especially when it comes to youth leadership. The Association has limited funding because most of the member Yearly Meetings do not contribute. As a result therefore, many of the needs have not been met.
To hold a leadership seminar in Burundi next year in May, 2008. To hold a Triennial Conference in December, 2009 at Lugulu-Kenya.
We do appreciate the cooperation and assistance rendered to YQCA by FWCC Africa Section and the moral support from the World office.
Kyela Monthly Meeting of Friends (Southern Tanzania)
Kyela District is in Mbeya Region of Tanzania. It is situated on the South Western tip of Tanzania, on the shores of Lake Nyasa, bordering with Malawi, along Livingstone Hills. The whether of this area is the typical coastal climate, wet and hot. The soil is fertile and suitable for rice growing, maize and palm trees. It is the only area in East Africa where cocoa plantation is grown.
Kyela town is neighboring Malawi on the Lake Nyasa. It therefore serves the Malawi boarder residents with commercial and other related provisions. It is at this centre that the Friends Worship Group started. Kyela Provisional Monthly Meeting is the latest Quaker Worship group which was started through internet communication between the Executive Secretary Moses Musonga and a seeker, Barnabas Mwaihojo from Tanzania. Barnabas wrote an inquiry to the Section office. He wanted to become a Quaker after visiting the FWCC-World Quaker Organization Website.
The Section Secretary challenged him to organize a worship group, however small in number and form a Quaker Community. Through on line exchange communication and other channels, Barnaba Mwaihojo and his close friend Noah Mwanjala started three worship groups: Kyela, Makware and Mwaya. After a period of one year a team of two members from the Executive Committee: John Sabwa and Joshua Lilande was dispatched to Kyela-Mbeya (two days trip by road from Nairobi) for fact finding and meet the group tour. They met dedicated and determined group members who were equally excited to meet with Quakers face to face. It was after this visit that both parties (FWCC-AS and Kyela Groups) gained confidence in each other.
Another follow-up visit was made by the Clerk-Gladys Kang’ahi and Moses Musonga, Executive Secretary. It is during this visit that the three groups were allowed to worship as a provisional monthly meeting. They live several kilometers apart, Makware being 50 Kilometers from Kyela town while Mwaya is 10 kilometers away from the town.
The third visit was made by Moses Musonga, (FWCC-AS), John Muhanji (FUM Africa Ministries) and Pastor Henry Apencha (Nairobi Yearly Meeting). During this trip they visited the three village meetings and met with all the members. They also managed to win a policeman on a road block along their way to Kyela, who has since become a member of Kyela village meeting. Moses says, “we were driving at very high speed after 9:00pm towards Kyela. Then suddenly we encountered a police roadblock and stopped. The policemen asked us where we were rushing to and we told them we had come from Nairobi and were going to minister to our congregation at Kyela town. One of the policemen immediately lifted his hands up and shunted, praise God! He asked in which hotel we were going to stay and promised to visit us on the following day, which he did in the evening. During our sharing, he promised to join Friends Church with his family, which he has done till now”.
The seminar on Quaker faith and practice was conducted and the monthly meeting committee was formed. Since our last visit two more village meetings have been born, namely Matema and Matende to make a total of 5 village meetings. They do meet every Sunday at the village meeting level and all the Village Meetings congregate on the last Sunday of the month on rotational basis. The women do also meet on Thursdays for worship services and fellowship.
Each one of the Village Meetings urgently needs to purchase a plot and construct a meeting house for worship. The two village meetings that are: Mwaya and Makware do worship under the shade of cocoa trees at the homes of the members. They find it difficult to worship especially during the rainy season. They sit on bamboo trees pasted together as their benches. They are therefore requesting for a helping hand from the Quaker family.
The USFW Kenya contributed money which was used to purchase a plot at Kyela town. The members have constructed a temporary mud-grass thatched church where they are worshiping for the time being.
Two young men and one young lady were sponsored to come to Friends Theological College – Kaimosi where they have studied for a year. They went back to minister to their people as Pastors.