(Photo: Friends of Ole Kiyiapi via The Christian Post)
As the Republic of Kenya prepares to choose its fourth president next year, supporters of a rising candidate claim he could become the first "born-again Christian" elected to the presidency in the African country's 50 years of independence.
"Prof (James Ole) Kiyiapi is concerned about two main things – National Unity and Economic Empowerment. He strongly believes that if these two issues were addressed properly, Kenya would be able to move to the next level of development," said Mugure Mugo in an email to The Christian Post.
Mugo is head of the "Friends of Ole Kiyiapi" group petitioning for the candidate. She shared with CP Kiyiapi's resume which reveals that he holds an environmental degree and served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in Kenya before launching his bid for the presidency.
The CIA World Factbook states that Kenya's population of 43 million is predominantly Christian – 45 percent are Protestant, while Roman Catholics make up 33 percent, Muslims 10 percent, and 10 percent subscribing to indigenous beliefs.
Mugo confirmed with CP that most Kenyans are Christians, and said that religious freedom is strong there. She noted, however, that although 50 percent of all of Africa professes the Christian faith, there are very few Christian leaders on the continent – and she claimed that Kenya has been without a born-again Christian leader for 50 years.
"Christianity is however growing incredibly fast here in Africa and I think it will be interesting to see how this might impact the continent in the years to come, particularly in leadership and other areas of society," she added.
As for Kiyiapi's biggest challenges for the 2013 presidential seat, Mugo noted that although the 51-year-old professor has served in various capacities for the government, he has never before sought an elective position, and so he has to work extra hard to convince people he is the right person for the job.
When it comes to Kiyiapi's Christian life, the candidate is described as a "professing, born-again Christian having given his life to Christ as a young man." During his years in university in Kenya, he played an active role in the Christian community, and has credited his strong moral values and worldview to his Christian faith.
"Prof Kiyiapi believes his is a divine calling to serve the country, and has staked his all to respond to this call," his biography states.
Kenya's General Elections are to be held on March 4, 2013, and will also elect Senators, County Governors and Members of Parliament, besides a president to succeed Incumbent leader Mwai Kibaki.
Kibaki, a Roman Catholic, was preceded by two other presidents in the Republic of Kenya's young independent history. Both Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who held office from 1964 to 1978, and Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, president from 1978 to 2002, are non-Protestant Christians.