Ogwedhi Sigawa Community Development Project (Transmara District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya)
This congregation and community development project is located in Transmara District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya right on the border of the Luo and the Maasai peoples. The founders of the church were: Bishop Kisare, Wilson Ogwada, David Shenk, Nashon Adera, and a Maasai chief together with some Maasai elders. This church was a peace initiative; for many years the Maasai and their neighbors, the Luos kept fighting at the border now and again killing one another. This resulted in sharp conflict between the two tribes. There was also a Kuria community which neighbored the two tribes to the south. A Maasai chief asked his neighboring Luo chief, Wilson Ogwada, if he knew of a peaceful church that could be planted at the border that would help create harmony and peaceful co-existence between the two tribes. As a Mennonite, Wilson suggested they invite Mennonites to plant a church at the border. The chiefs agreed, and the church planting began under David W. Shenk, the general secretary of Kenya Mennonite Church in 1976.
For the church to be relevant it had to develop projects that would bring the two communities and the Kuria together. These projects included: dairy farming, a school, a clinic, and horticulture. Both the Maasai and the Luos kept animals near the border so dairy farming of high yielding animals was welcomed. With David Shenk's help funds from Germany were sourced to start this project. By 1977 a church house was built on Maasai land where both Luos and Maasai could attend church services. A primary school was also planted at the border with the classrooms on Luo side and the playground on Maasai land. This ensured that the Maasai children crossed the border to attend lessons in the school which was in Luo land and the Luo children who came to school had to cross the border to play in the playground in the Maasai land. Later a boarding facility was created in the school to care for children who came from farther away, both from Maasai and Luo lands. A clinic was also built near the border on the Maasai side the two communities could not avoid meeting one another at the clinic.
The dairy project was also constructed on the Maasai side. The two communities brought their local animals to be upgraded through cross breeding and artificial insemination. The Maasai brought their milk to the project and the milk was ferried to Migori town to be sold. The project employed both Maasai and Luos. As a result, over time the two communities became friends and the constant fights stopped and harmony was restored.
The development project has had a number of directors including: Jerry Stutzman, Leon Ressler, Carl Hansen, and Paul Saiwa among others. The manager was Barack Ogolla.
On the congregational side, Bishop Nashon Adera was initially in charge; he was later followed by Paul Otieno. In 1986 David Saye took over leadership, assisted by Francis Rikei.
The community development project began a downward trend during the political conflict over the multiparty system in 1992 when Kenya was polarized between those supporting the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (Ford) and those supporting the Kenya African National Union (KANU). At this time the Maasai wanted their own sons to direct the development project and would not allow another tribe taking that position. Due to poor management the project finally collapsed. The church remained but by 2018 the attendance has reduced to less than 100.
Ojwang', Francis S., ed. Forward in faith: history of the Kenya Mennonite Church: a seventy-year journey, 1942-2012. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Mennonite Church, 2015: 199-204.
|Author(s)||Francis S Ojwang'|
Cite This Article
Ojwang', Francis S. "Ogwedhi Sigawa Community Development Project (Transmara District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August. Web. 20 Feb 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ogwedhi_Sigawa_Community_Development_Project_(Transmara_District,_Rift_Valley_Province,_Kenya)&oldid=161441.
Ojwang', Francis S. (August). Ogwedhi Sigawa Community Development Project (Transmara District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 February 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ogwedhi_Sigawa_Community_Development_Project_(Transmara_District,_Rift_Valley_Province,_Kenya)&oldid=161441.
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