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Kenyan Franciscan Friar Says Latest Award “great honor, privilege, by God’s grace”

Br. Peter Mokaya Tabichi receiving the 2020 Ahimsa Award.

The Kenyan Franciscan Friar who won the Global Teacher Prize for 2019, Br. Peter Mokaya Tabichi, has described his latest prize, the 2020 Ahimsa Award, as a “great honour and privilege” that has come through God’s grace.

Br. Tabichi was granted this year’s Ahimsa Award for selfless acts of peace and compassion during the 18th Jain All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Ahimsa Day virtual meeting that took place October 24.

“Being awarded the Ahimsa award was such a great honor and privilege for me. It is by the grace of God. Not that I am special,” the member of the Order of St. Francis (OSF) told ACI Africa Wednesday, November 11. 

Explaining to ACI Africa how he might have been identified for the award, the Kenyan Physics and Mathematics teacher said, “The Global Teacher Prize put me in the limelight. I think that is how they came to read my profile and see what I do.”

The annual Ahimsa Award is given by the London-based Institute of Jainology in recognition of individuals who promote acts of compassion and non-violence. 

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Announcing the Award, the Managing Trustee of the Institute of Jainology, Dr. Mehool Sanghrajka said that Br. Tabichi “personifies peace, love and compassion in his work with both his students and his community and truly represents the message of Ahimsa.” 

“He was chosen for this year’s honour for his work in dramatically improving attendance at his school, reducing levels of local violence and even teaching local communities how to grow crops that can resist famine,” Dr. Sanghrajka explained, referencing Br. Tabichi’s apostolate at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese.

He added, “We look forward to seeing his ongoing success as well as being a beacon for teachers and community leaders everywhere.” 

The World’s best Teacher 2019, made history as the first Religious Brother to address the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

The 38-year-old Franciscan Friar who was also named the 2019 UN in Kenya person of the year, was also accorded the Dettol Soap hero brand ambassador role for 2020.

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Additionally, he was conferred the Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS) in December 2019 by Kenya’s Head of State and sworn into the Heroes Council.

Two of his students represented Kenya at the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, USA.

During the November 11 interview with ACI Africa, Br. Tabichi said that his latest prize, the Ahimsa Award, “is not just to make me happy. I hope it will inspire other people.” 

“I would want to share my reward with other people,” he went on to say, and added making reference to the Franciscan Prayer for Peace, “It is in giving that we receive.”

Though the award does not come with conditions, he said that he hopes to partner with his sponsors for future projects. 

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The Religious Brother called on members of the society to exercise generosity and make use of their gifts and talents. 

“Let us make good use of what we have and let us have a spirit of sharing,” he told ACI Africa November 11, adding, “All of us have gifts. Let us use these gifts, our talents for the benefit of the society.”

“Whatever you are doing, let us give our best because, at the end of everything, we will be judged,” he said.

Br. Tabichi who was, in March 2019, recognized as the World’s Best Teacher after emerging overall winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize stood out from the rest of the nominees for the award due to his selfless commitment and dedication to his work and the society.  

His identity as a Religious Brother was widely ignored by many media channels that covered the Franciscan Friar’s journey to a historic victory, many outlets stopping at the fact that the Kenyan-born teacher was the first African to win the much-coveted prize of Global Best Teacher.

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