I first met the Rev CB Peter in August 1993 when as a young ordinant I joined St Paul’s Theological College, Kapsabet. He was an adjunct tutor in Religious Studies. We later learned that CB was a senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Moi University, Eldoret. Having just arrived from our rural settings, most of us were quite excited to be taught by an Asian, and more so a respected university teacher.
CB quickly impressed us as a good teacher, a thorough researcher and a prolific writer. An important gift he possessed was humor. During most of his lectures we laughed a great deal without in any way missing out on the critical points he was making. CB’s proweress in scholarship became clearer to us when in 1994 he published “A Guide to Academic writing”. This book may be his most widely read work. It has received very good reviews in the world of academia and will continue to be a useful tool for researchers in the years ahead.
When we finished our training, all members of the class passed the Diploma in Theology examinations and were admitted into ordained ministry of various Anglican Dioceses. After serving in a rural parish for two years, in 1998 my late Bishop William Wesa Bishop asked me to proceed to SPU (by then, St Paul’s United Theological College) to undertake a Bachelors of Divinity degree. I was very pleased to find my beloved teacher CB serving as a part time lecturer here at St Paul’s and quickly remembered me when I bumped into him at the old Chapel. CB taught us courses in research methods, Old Testament Themes among others.
He quickly established himself as a thorough academic. When he later accepted a substantive position as senior lecturer in the faculty of Theology at St Paul University he volunteered to revive the regular Faculty Research Seminars. During these events, younger scholars like me were awed by his critical eye. He was meticulous with footnotes, grammar, punctuations and bibliographies. After serving for several years as the Coordinator for Faculty Research, in 2011, this responsibility was passed on to me.
One of CB’s most abiding contributions to scholarship was his establishment of a publishing firm known as “Zapf Chancery”. Through this venture, many scholars managed to have their works published and disseminated at an affordable cost. Among his most recent publications include “Mapping Eastleigh for Christian-Muslim Relations” (2013), a work that among other chapters contains a report of a mapping project in which CB was a leading consultant. His other recent works include “Disability, Society, and Theology: Voices from Africa, (2011) “Priesthood of all Believers: Ordination of the Disabled” (2011) “Our Father: An Indian Christian reads the Lord’s the Lord’s Prayer” (2011) “Some Biblical Models for Conflict Resolution” (OJOT) (2011) “Prosperity Gospel: A Jungian Appraisal” (OJOT)(2011), Mapping Eastleigh for Christian-Muslim Relations(2013) and Contested Space: Ethnicity and Religion in Kenya(2013). One of the desires for the St Paul’s Faculty of Theology continues to establish a journal where staff can publish their research findings. CB was given the task of exploring the viability of this venture and presented a proposal to this effect to the university.
Although CB died while still working on his PhD, he mentored many Post-Graduate students and was highly respected by his academic colleagues. CB desired and was determined to finish the PhD project soon amidst the heavy teaching and publishing tasks that he had.
Unlike the typical academic who lives in an ivory tower, CB always wanted to do business and make money. Apart from his publishing firm, he had tried his hands at several enterprises including a hotel, a petrol station and a matatu (taxi). Apparently his most successful business venture remains the publishing firm through which he was able to combine his two major areas of interest: scholarship and business.
As a person with much self- respect, CB was not afraid to express a dissenting opinion even when his was a lone voice and he was speaking back to “power”. He was continually opposed to what he called “the industrial model of education” in Kenya where lecturers are perennially teaching throughout the year without much time for rest and research. He argued that scholarship was best conducted in a context of leisure. Ironically, looking at his life closely, one got the impression that CB hardly rested. However his point was so convincingly put.
SPU and the academy in general have lost a gifted teacher and scholar. It is only fitting that those of us who have worked with him should strive to uphold some of the values he held to honor his memory and contributions.
By Rev. Dr. Joseph M Wandera, Faculty of Theology