Late Kenya’s Third President Eulogized as Humble Leader with “respect for sacred places”

Screengrab of Archbishop Anthony Muheria during the funeral of Late President Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki on Saturday, 30 April 2022. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The late third President of Kenya, Emilio Stanley Mwai Kibaki, was a humble leader with notable “respect for sacred places”, Archbishop Anthony Muheria said Saturday, April 30 during the Funeral Mass of the former Head of State who died on April 21 at the age of 90.

In his homily during the Funeral Mass at Othaya Approved School in Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese, Archbishop Muheria encouraged Kenyans to emulate the good qualities of the late President.

“He was humble and lived in simplicity. He had respect for sacred places and he did not wish to be recognized,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said about the late former President who left office in 2013 after being at the helm of the East African country for two five-year terms.

President Kibaki, he added, “never sought to display his power; he had no show of opulence.” 

Archbishop Muheria recalled an incident in 2018 when the “elderly Kibaki” went to worship at the Cathedral of Nyeri Archdiocese. The Archbishop sent Kibaki’s Secretary to tell him not to kneel. “But the late president stuck to his gun and knelt”, the Kenyan Archbishop recounted.


“The desire of the family of former President Mwai Kibaki is for him to be sent off in the same way he lived, with simplicity,” he told mourners, and added, “We will not have any political speeches, but rather, deliver our tributes as a nation and as people of God.”

The 58-year-old Kenyan Archbishop further said that the late President’s “example is badly needed in this nation. He knew how to forgive … With his weaknesses because he was human, our dear President also knew how to rise up and not compromise for what he knew was the truth.”

“Whenever he had for whatever reason found that he had fallen in one thing or another, or failed in one thing or another, he would rise up with hope, with optimism; but would never leave the truth. He would never use falsehood as a vehicle for personal gain,” Archbishop Muheria said.

“God gave him hardships, adversity, his accident, his illness, his public humiliation, deprived the power of the word even towards the end of his life. A man who was so eloquent and that is difficult; but he did not complain, he didn't lament; he accepted it,” the Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese said April 30.

Earlier, in a collective statement, Catholic Bishops in Kenya eulogized the late former President as one who set a good example that should be emulated by others in public office.

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The late former President “leaves behind a rich legacy for our Nation and his example should be emulated by anyone seeking public office,” members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said in their statement shared with ACI Africa April 25.

“As a Church we are deeply touched by the departure of one of Kenya's long serving political leaders whose public career touched many lives and left an indelible mark in the hearts of all the people he encountered,” they said.

The Catholic Church leaders added, “We shall forever remember him for his humility, heroic virtues, cheerful character, strong personality and selfless dedication to his country and the people of Kenya.”

President Kibaki was “a gift from God which enabled all those whom he encountered to fruitfully give their all, in service to their country”, KCCB members said about the late former Head of State who is also credited with turning Kenya’s economy into one of the fastest-growing regionally and internationally.

“As a leading figure in Kenya's post-independence history, Mwai Kibaki earned the abiding respect and affection of the people of this Nation and other nations throughout the world. President Kibaki will be forever remembered as the gentleman of Kenyan Politics, a brilliant debater; whose eloquence, wit, and charm won the day, time and time again,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya said.


In his April 30 homily, Archbishop Muheria invited politicians to embrace the truth, forgive one another, and sanitize their language in the example of President Kibaki.

“Let us reflect what Kibaki did to the ordinary people without seeking political mileage. Let us embrace truth in leadership; let us serve not seek; let us protect the truth and not seek pride and self-glorification,” he said.

The Kenyan Archbishop added, “Many times in our dear nation, we have slipped away into the slope of selfishness of greedy goals of fake truths, because if God is not with me, I am fake.”

The Archbishop cautioned against hate speech and public utterances that demean others and called for “a special sanitizer to disinfect our toxic mouths.”

There is a “new mouth COVID,” he said, and added, “Sanitize our mouth, our hands … but more our mouths; let's get the toothpaste sanitizer. That's how we keep the faith.”

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“God wants us to rein in our mouths. Kibaki never said a remark against his competitors; he used jokes but never pointed a finger directly at his rivals,” Archbishop Muheria said.

He urged Kenyan politicians to forgive one another and move on with building the nation. The Archbishop said, “Let us learn to pardon each other. Let us seek reconciliation since this is what Kibaki would ask. We will only be worthy children to him if we listen to his words and live to his spirit.”

He continued, “Let us not behave like a village hen, which lays an egg and makes noise for everyone to know. The hen only sees itself and does not know others. Let us mind our brothers and struggle for what is just, merciful and truthful.”

The Catholic Church leader challenged Kenyan politicians to foster mutual forgiveness saying that in his political career that spanned over five decades, President Kibaki “knew how to forgive and he never took offense.”

He posed in reference to the late former President, “Why are we Kenyans so easily cheated and lied to, hijacked to hatred of our own brother and sister? Today, he would tell us to love the other Kenyan.”

“Kenyans, why do we find it difficult to forgive? This statesman had no enemies; he took no offense. Why is it that we are cheated out of hatred?” Archbishop Muheria further posed. 

He added, ‘Let's learn to say, sorry, God, I stumbled. And also say here I am Lord to serve you and to serve our nation; our nation needs you; God needs you; society needs you, because we must bring goodness.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.