Fr. John Anthony Kaiser was ordained as a priest in St. Louis, the USA for the Mill Hill Father’s in 1964. He was then sent to Mill Hill Mission in Kenya where he worked among Kenyan people for 35 yrs. As a missionary he served the poor, advocated justice for the oppressed and respect for their dignity and human rights.
Fr Kaiser died on August 24th 2000 five months after he was awarded the Law Society of Kenya annual Human Rights Award for being a study in courage, determination and sacrifice on behalf of the weak, oppressed and downtrodden. In 1999, Kaiser had given a public testimony before the Akiwumi Commission on tribal clashes in the run up to the 1997 general elections. When he died,he was carrying documents he intended to present to the Akiwumi Commission. He was also set to testify against the government before the international criminal court in the Hague in three weeks.
Less than a week after Kaiser’s death, Florence Mpayei who Kaiser had been helping to pursue justice against a politician who had raped her dropped the case. After eight months of investigations, the FBI and Kenya Police released a eighty one page document titled,“The final report into the Death of Fr.Kaiser” which gave a devastating glimpse into his deteriorating mental state focused on the final ninety six hours of his life in Nairobi.
They said he was mentally unstable because he cried during Mass.He cried many times when he was moved.Shortly before he died, he wrote an open letter to his family and friends.“I want all to know that if I disappear from the scene because the bush is vast and hyenas many, that I AM not planning any accident nor God forbid any self destruction”. Kaiser knew all the dangers of speaking out in Kenya and of a fate which had befallen many others.Tomorrow the world will be commemorating twenty years since he died.
May his soul continue resting in peace.