- Archbishop Ndingi served as the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Nakuru which also includes parts of Baringo County.
- At the Christ The King Cathedral in Nakuru, his sermons were always full like crusades.
- During church service, he once told the late President Daniel arap Moi that he could not enter the church with armed body guards and he obliged.
While many leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have eulogised, Raphael Ndingi Mwana a’ Nzeki as a true servant of God, no one knows him better than the priests and ordinary Christians who freely interacted with him at the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru.
Sadly, the thousands of Christians whom he served for nearly 50 years before he left for Nairobi in 1996, will not be able to give him a memorable send-off on Tuesday owing to coronavirus pandemic.
Archbishop Ndingi, perhaps one of the most prominent Catholic clerics in Kenya, served as the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Nakuru which also includes parts of Baringo County.
At the Christ The King Cathedral in Nakuru, his sermons were always full like crusades.
In one of his memorable homily, he once told former President Daniel arap Moi on his face that he could not enter the church with armed body guards and he obliged.
The Archbishop Emeritus who died aged 89 years, will forever be remembered by the residents of Molo.
“There is day Archbishop Ndingi sold his sleek Mercedes Benz gift from friends in Germany to buy land for the displaced families in Molo,” recalls Mr Andrew Nyabuto.
Mr Nyabuto said the cleric used the proceeds of the car to buy land and resettled hundreds of IDPs who were camping at Christ The King Cathedral.
“Unlike present day preachers who rarely declare any gifts they get from abroad, this act by the Archbishop touched many and if there is heaven then I bet Archbishop Ndingi went to heaven directly,” said Mr Nyabuto.
Ms Mary Kahengeri, one of the people who camped at Christ The King Cathedral in Nakuru during the 1991-1992 tribal clashes said: “Today I own this piece of land in Molo because of humanitarian acts by Archbishop Ndingi. I will forever be indebted to him as long as I live.”
Father Peter Mose of Subukia described Archbishop Ndingi as “a spiritual dad that one would like to be near. He understood the thin line between politics and faith.”
He added: “He had fatherly advice and he would tell us not to drive at night. He used to tell us if night finds you on the road sleep in the nearest parish.”
Father Joseph Gatamu said: “He used to tell us to give lifts in our cars to our parents and altar boys because in case of an accident they would not take us to court but will in turn defend us.”
The Lay Apostolate Coordinator at the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, Ronald Sunros Sunguti said the current structure at the diocese is as a result of Ndingi’s good organisational skills.
“He was a man of the people with high level of intelligence. He was a fearless, hardworking and impartial. He was a person of order. He made the structure of Nakuru Diocese as you see it today,” said Mr Sunguti.
The last priest Archbishop Ndingi ordained before he left for Nairobi in 1996, Father Samuel Waweru, who is currently in charge of Catholic Justice and Peace Commission ( CJPC) at the diocese, described him described him as “honest person who reminded the clergy to pray always or they become the prey.”
Mr Joseph Omondi, the executive director of Midrift Human Rights Network in Nakuru town said Archbishop Ndingi was a leading voice of the voiceless during Kanu regime.
“He was a democracy and human rights champion. He sheltered and fed the victims of politically instigated clashes at Christ The King Cathedral in Nakuru. His ability to interpret the biblical teachings and what was happening in the country was motivating and uplifting,” said Mr Omondi.
Father Moses Muraya who was the Vicar General for 10 years under Archbishop Ndingi described him as “an honest, committed and disciplined man who loved his job.”
“He was also a development conscious cleric who started all the social programmes such as water, hospitals and schools among others,” recalls Fr Murya who is a former Nakuru Diocese administrator.
Fr Muraya recalls how one day he asked Archbishop Ndingi what his job description as Vicar-General was and he responded: “ When I am around you do nothing and when I am not around you do everything.”
He added: “He is the foundation of all projects that have kept this diocese strong for the past five decades.”
At the same time, he said that while touring a clash-torn Olenguruone area with Fr Stephen Mbugua in 1992, police officers confronted them and sent him to go and tell Archbishop Ndingi to tread carefully on his push for justice for the displaced people.
However, Father Muraya said that when he told Archbishop Ndingi what the police told him, he responded: “Tell them (police) to come and do what they want. Do they (police) think I will die from morning to evening?”