Leader in Kenya Shares How He Became an Egalitarian

by Domnic Misolo | September 28, 2011
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My name is Domnic Omolo Misolo. I'm a Kenyan citizen and ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Bondo. I'm married to Christine Adhiambo and we are blessed with one child, Bill Otieno. I am the founder and coordinator of Ekklesia Community for Advocacy and Peace Initiative (ECAPI).

I came to know about biblical equality from Priscilla Papers, which I read at St. Paul's University Library (Kenya) in the year 2009 during my studies for a bachelor degree in divinity. As an Anglican priest, I follow traditional evangelical spirituality that views Scripture (Bible) as authoritative and actual God's breath without criticism. Being molded in the African culture (Luo Tribe) where women are viewed as second to men and rated with children, my attitude from childhood and in the ministry (as a priest) was heavily influenced by that context and worldview.

In my pastoral visitations, pulpit sermons, and biblical interpretation, the view that men are original and women are second to men was eminent throughout my ministry. I did not know that my understanding of Scripture was influenced by a patriarchal culture as socializing people and their relationships in the society through male pre-eminance.

When I read Priscilla Papers and deeply reflected back on my church and life in the community, I was challenged, and my pre-conceived worldview was largely questioned. I started to rethink on the fact that men and women are equal and that can it be true. I raised many questions that surely opened my mind. Some of the questions were; Is it true that God created man original and woman second to man? How did a just God choose to create one to be a superior (man) and the other to be an inferior (woman) giving them corresponding status and authority? Did he create them using different materials or substance? Do we have the power to influence our sex before birth and how can we pray to God to be born a man and not a woman? These questions made me a frequent reader of Priscilla Papers and Mutuality, the resource materials from CBE International which were among other books in the university library.

I was convinced that the idea that men are superior and women are inferior was not true and not biblical at all, but just man-made and influenced by cultural context on our interpretation of the Scriptures.

My conscience became sharp on patriarchy and I started to view the effects of inequality in our society and how it has negatively affected our socio-cultural, religious, political, and economic context. I saw how women are oppressed and do not control social institutions/dimensions of human growth in society: in my community, women do not own property, and children are viewed as belonging to men and as wealth, hence women have no say on the number of children they give birth to and care for; we give priority to a boy-child's education and yet give young girls in early marriage for wealth and bride price; men are culturally allowed to be polygamous, and having multiple sexual partners increases the vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and poverty; and women do not participate in policy making, which influences injustices. Actually, I saw all social ills and challenges in the African continent as a result of patriarchy/biblical misinterpretation and inequality between men and women and how patriarchy has been re-enforced by culture and religion. This phenomenon of male-superiority has the potential to influence the increasing trend of abuse of women both in the church, domestically, and sexually.

In the year 2010, I wrote to the Rt. Rev. Johannes Otieno Angela, Bishop of Bondo (Anglican Church of Kenya), asking the church to come up with an advocacy desk to look into issues of women empowerment. This is how we came up with Ekklesia Community for Advocacy and Peace Initiative (ECAPI), a faith based organization to look into women empowerment and biblical equality. This also made me re-think the relationship I have with my wife and family. We (my wife and I) decided it was wise for my wife to go back to school and now she is taking her bachelor degree in education at Egerton University (Kenya). This is the good news on how I became an egalitarian and chose the path of women empowerment.