At Requiem Mass for Souls of Seminary Bus Tragedy in Kenya, Bishop Cautions against Graft

Photos of 33 people who lost their lives in the Saturday, December 4 Seminary bus tragedy at Enzui River in Kenya’s Kitui Diocese. Credit: Moses Mpuria

At the requiem Mass for the souls of 33 people who lost their lives in the Saturday, December 4 Seminary bus tragedy at Enzui River in Kenya’s Kitui Diocese, the Catholic Bishop of the Kenyan Diocese has cautioned against graft.

In his homily during the Thursday, December 9 Eucharistic celebration at St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary of Kitui Diocese, Bishop Joseph Mwongela said the December 4 accident, when the Seminary bus was swept by fast-flowing waters as the driver attempted to navigate the submerged bridge, has raised questions around infrastructural development in Kenya amid allegations of corruption.

Credit: Moses Mpuria

“We have many questions but no answers. However, if the issue of corruption does not touch each one of us and everyone says 'I reject corruption', our roads will become more and more deadly because they will be badly repaired. Bridges will not be built to standard,” Bishop Mwongela said. 

Around 20 members of St. Cecilia choir who were parishioners of Good Shepherd Parish of Kitui Diocese, two members of Brothers of St. Peter Claver, flower girls, and other persons were among those who lost their lives, all of whom were supposed to take part in a wedding at St. Joseph Nuu Parish of Kitui Diocese.


Following the tragedy, the Kenyan government announced plans to build a bridge on River Enziu, a seasonal river in Kitui County.

Credit: Moses Mpuria

An amount of KES500 million (US$4.4 million) has been secured for this project, which is expected to start in January 2022, a government official in Kenya has been quoted as saying

“It is true this bridge has been having a problem but budgeting has been an issue to us but I can confirm that the notification for the contract has gone out and we will sign a contract in the next three weeks. We will then give the contractor two weeks to mobilize resources before he gets to the site to start the work in January,” the infrastructure Permanent Secretary in Kenya reportedly told members of parliament Tuesday, December 7.

Hinting to the challenges that can characterize the realization of the project, including delays, Bishop Mwongela cautioned against graft saying, "We have been twisted by corruption. We find it normal to do things that should not exist. Some people tread where devils dread to step in."

More in Africa

Credit: Moses Mpuria

The Catholic Bishop of Kitui who, earlier this week, indicated that his Diocese is offering counselling services to those affected by the tragedy further said that slogan of the 2019 anti-corruption campaign of members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) should be remembered at all times.

“I stand against corruption; corruption is not a path to life; it is a path to death. Let us break the chains of corruption. This is not a song; it is something we should be reminded of all the time,” the Kenyan Bishop said in his homily during the Requiem Mass in reference to KCCB’s anti-corruption campaign slogan. 

During the Holy Mass, which was attended by among others, a representative of the Kenya Catholic Bishops Conference (KCCB), the Governor of Kitui County as well as a representative the country’s President, Bishop Mwongela called on Kenyans to be mindful of the underprivileged members of society. 

Credit: Moses Mpuria


“Time has come to rise and think of the less privileged, the marginalized and the poor,” he said, and posed, “Where are they in our political manifestos? Where are they in our churches?”

The 58-year-old Kenyan Bishop added, “Let the poor and the marginalized also get good roads and bridges. If we have good roads in select places whereas some places have none, how will they be helpful? Let us share what we have.”

The Bishop who has been at the helm of Kitui Diocese since August last year said all Kenyans will benefit if the country's resources are used wisely.  

Credit: Moses Mpuria

At the Holy Mass that concluded with a fundraiser to help bereaved families with funeral arrangements, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese called on Kenyans to be cautious in their activities. 

(Story continues below)

Credit: Moses Mpuria

"It has been over and over again that we see our people washed away. Let us be cautious. Do not be in a hurry," Archbishop Muheria said. 

The Kenyan Archbishop who previously served as the Local Ordinary of Kitui said a number of people have been swept away by floods in the region. 

"Please, let us take caution in such circumstances. When there are floods. Let us wait. Let us help each other to be patient," he said, and called on the people to "put lives first."

Credit: Moses Mpuria

"May we be ambassadors of life; may we be the first to speak against anything that threatens life," Archbishop Muheria said during the December 9 Requiem Mass at St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary of Kitui Diocese. 

He added, "It is a tough time, but also a time to learn. May this tragedy be a lesson to all of us."

The bus that belongs to St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary Mwingi was destined to St. Joseph Nuu Parish where one of the brothers of Fr. Benson Kityambyu was solemnizing his marriage.

Fr. Kityambyu reportedly lost 12 family members, a source told ACI Africa December 7, adding that the body of a child belonging to the family had been retrieved from the river the previous day. 

Two daughters and two grandchildren of the couple receiving the sacrament of matrimony were among those who lost their lives in the Seminary bus tragedy.

Credit: Moses Mpuria

In his speech during the Requiem Mass, Archbishop Muheria lauded the spirit of unity witnessed during rescue operations at River Enziu. 

He called on Kenyans to unite saying, "God has created us to collaborate as brothers and sisters. We should not be divided; we should not be separated by religion or ethnic differences."

"May God's love unite us and may we not allow the devil to come among us," Archbishop Muheria said December 9.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.