Jackson Ole Sapit is the current archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya. He replaced the soft-spoken Eliud Wabukala to hold the revered office in 2016.
Sapit is hailed as one of the most vocal religious leaders in Kenya, never shy of voicing his opinions about the country’s political, moral, and social situation.
He recently made headlines by advising Azimio and Kenya Kwanza political parties to adopt more moderate positions in their bipartisan talks.
From a vibrant Maasai Moran to the highest office in the Anglican Church of Kenya, this is his journey as told by WoK:
Ole Sapit was born in 1964 in Narok county. His mother was the 7th wife of his father, who had 11 wives.
His father was considered to be the richest man in the area. Sadly, the old man passed away when Sapit was only 4 years old.
Following the death of the patriarch, the family split apart when Sapit’s older step-brothers sent the younger wives away to keep them from inheriting their father’s land. Sapit’s mother was among those sent away.
She, together with her children, gathered their few cattle and went to live in Naisuya, Narok.
As a youth, Sapit underwent all the hallmarks of being a Maasai Moran, including killing lions and undergoing circumcision.
According to The Standard, the only thing he did not do was dye his hair red due to school reasons.
Despite the hard conditions at the time, he joined Rotian Primary School following the government’s directive to arrest all parents who did not send their children to school. There, he sat his KCPE in 1980.
He was then awarded a scholarship to Narok High School, an experience he later narrated as the first time in his life he ever wore shoes.
A chance encounter
After high school, he moved back to the village, where he was made a member of a group ranch.
It was around this time that his first encounter with the Anglican Church happened when he met a white missionary evangelist who ran a mobile clinic.
Sapit was hired by the missionary as an interpreter as he was one of the only few lads who were conversant with the queen’s language in Narok at the time.
Around that time, he also dabbled in cattle trading, where he would escort cattle for sale in an 8-day journey to Nairobi’s bustling Dagoreti market. He used the profits to increase his herds at home.
In 1988, Sapit was recruited by his local priest, Samuel Kamau, as an evangelist.
Through Kamau’s guidance, he enrolled at the Berea Theological College in Nakuru where he graduated in 1991 with a diploma in Theology. He was appointed deacon in the same year.
Aside from his diploma, Sapit holds a degree in Divinity from St. Paul’s University and a Certificate of Research from Daystar University.
He also holds a Master’s Degree in Social Development and Sustainable Livelihoods from the University of Reading, England, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Global University for Lifelong Learning in California.
In 1992, he was posted to Belgut parish in Kericho, where he was ordained as a priest.
From there, he rose through the ranks and was appointed as the Vicar of Trans Mara parish in Kilgoris.
Aside from being an evangelist, he participated in the establishment of a government school in the Maasai community in Narok, where he was among the pioneer teachers.
As a gospel minister, Ole Sapit steadily rose through the ranks to become an Anglican bishop for the Kericho diocese, a role he held for 12 years.
Under his leadership, the Diocese grew from 8 to 22 parishes and grew the number of clergies from 9 to 28.
In 2016, he was elected as the sixth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya, beating 5 other candidates to replace Eliud Wabukala.
In an interview with Zambian journalist Bellah Zulu, Sapit narrated the excitement he felt when he won the elections to lead one of the largest churches in the country.
“A shiver ran through my system and I even got a bit scared at some point when finally, the doors of the cathedral were opened and I was led through to give my acceptance speech. When I saw all those media houses from around the world waiting to hear my speech, I realized that I had a heavy load on my shoulders and that people have a lot of expectations from me,” he said.
Prior to becoming archbishop, he lived with his wife, Esther Sapit, in a rural area in Kericho.
Before his name was submitted for consideration as archbishop, he prayed with his wife, who was not very keen about moving to Nairobi.
However, the couple shared the news with their children, who responded that they wanted to experience life in the big city rather than in Kericho.
“That helped us to make the decision to submit my name and also overcome the fear of moving to Nairobi,” he said.
The couple has seven children, four sons and three daughters.
While WoK lacks the exact details of Sapit’s wealth at the moment, he reportedly owns a sprawling 72-acre farm in the verdant expanses of Narok.