On 24 August 2000, the Catholic Church in Kenya received Disturbng news of the untimely death of a well-known American born priest, Fr. John Anthony Kaiser. His body was found at Morendat near Naivasha town along the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway. The cause of his death could not be ascertained immediately, but it later became clear that unknown assailants had murdered him
Fr. Kaiser was known and is remembered for his work with Kenya’s vulnerable poor who face injustice and oppression. In his years of pastoral ministry, he served people often forcibly driven out of their ancestral lands. Anyone who spoke out against these evictions faced danger, but this did not stop Fr. Kaiser from speaking out fearlessly. He took it upon himself to live in the camps at Maela, in Narok County, with victims who had been evicted from their land in Eno-Subukia following tribal clashes in the area.
FATHER KAISER TROUBLES WITH GOVERNMENT
The man was quickly identified as Fr Kaiser, 67, an outspoken critic of the government. Born in Minnesota, he came to Kenya as a simple parish priest, but he took on a more political role when he was sent in 1993 to Maela refugee camp, sheltering Kenyans ousted from their homes in fierce clashes after elections the previous year. He accused the government, including President Daniel arap Moi, of inciting the violence as part of a land grab.
More immediately, he was helping two young girls bring a rape case against a young politician and one of Mr Moi’s most trusted advisers, Julius Sunkuli. It was, said Mr Gathenji, just the beginning. Fifteen women in all would come forward.
In November, 1999, the Kenyan government tried to deport Kaiser, claiming that his work permit had expired. Kaiser briefly went into hiding in Kisii before he was granted a new work permit, but only after intervention by the US Ambassador Johnnie Carson and Bishop Colin Davis of Ngong
FATHER KAISER LAST MOMENTS
“They said he was mentally unstable because he cried during Mass. He cried many times when he was very moved. Shortly before he died, he wrote in an open letter to his family and friends: “I want all to know that if I disappear from the scene, because the bush is vast and hyenas many, that I am not planning any accident, nor, God forbid, any self-destruction,” said Mary.
He looked tense and stressed in last days and believed he was being haunted. He even told his bishop that “death was near.”
turbulent priest Fr John Kaiser said he feared for his life – just two days before he was shot dead in what police say was a gangland-style execution.
The Catholic priest confided in a colleague that he thought he was going to be killed, then later stripped the blankets and sheets from the bed at his lodgings at Bishops’ House, Nairobi, after nervously pacing the room.