His Grace Athanasius Akunda served as the Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya from 2016–2019. The author, an American Orthodox missionary, knew him as a colleague and friend when they taught together at the Makarios III Patriarchal Orthodox Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya. The author then moved to Kisumu to assist the new bishop in western Kenya during the final 18 months of the bishop’s life. This article is a remembrance of the bishop’s last years in Kenya and an appreciation of his life and friendship.
I am not attempting to write an exhaustive account of HG Athanasius’ life—that will be for others to do. I don’t have access to his papers, nor is it possible for me to interview all of the relevant people so that the mosaic that emerges bears some resemblance to the reality it rep-resents. Instead these are simply my own reminiscences. Our lives crossed briefly. And having known him, I am the better for it.
I was newly returned to Kenya in 2015, having gone through a painful and disorienting di-vorce. His Eminence Makarios, the Archbishop of Kenya, had graciously invited me to come to Nairobi, teach at the Orthodox seminary and to make my home in the archdiocesan guest-house. As a recent convert (2011), I was grateful to be part of a community that celebrated the various Liturgies and services of the Orthodox calendar. It was a good place for me.
It was at this time that I met Fr. Athanasius…