Celebrated Kenyan Scholar Dies in Switzerland

  • Prof John Mbiti during a public lecture. He was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Bern and parish minister to the town of Burgdorf, Switzerland. Daily Nation
  • A celebrated Kenya scholar passed away on Sunday October 6, in Switzerland.

    Prof John Mbiti was one of the world’s most iconic philosophy and religion scholars.

    Announcing his demise, Prof Makau Mutua stated the had written about the great scholar in his Sunday Nation column.

    "May his family and friends know peace," Mutua stated in a Facebook post.

    Prof John Mbiti
    Prof John Mbiti. He collaborated on a book of African proverbs, collected from across the continent.

    Born in Kenya, Mbiti studied in Uganda and the United States, taking his doctorate in 1963 at the University of Cambridge, UK.

    He taught religion and theology in Makerere University, Uganda from 1964 to 1974 and was subsequently director of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute in Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland.

    He has held visiting professorships at universities across the world and published extensively on philosophy, theology and African oral traditions.

    Mbiti's seminal book, African Religions and Philosophy (1969), was the first work to challenge the Christian assumption that traditional African religious ideas were "demonic and anti-Christian". 

    Prof Mbiti hugs former CJ willy Mutunga at AIC Mulango Primary school  in Kitui county for the launch of his Kikamba Bible in March 2015.
    Prof Mbiti hugs former CJ willy Mutunga at AIC Mulango Primary school in Kitui county for the launch of his Kikamba Bible in March 2015.

    Mbiti's research interests included theology in Africa and Asia, and ecumenism. He also collaborated on a book of African proverbs, collected from across the continent.

    Mbiti was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Bern and parish minister to the town of Burgdorf, Switzerland.