First Female African Bishop
Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya came from Swaziland to celebrate the launch of Us, formerly United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Bishop Ellinah is the first woman bishop of a church of the Anglican Communion in Africa. There is a relationship between the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland, which was celebrated in a service of Holy Communion at Dublin’s ancient St. Michan’s Church.
Bishop Ellinah spoke of the Christian call to serve others wherein salvation produces people who have a desire and a capacity to do good. She contrasted the ideal of service contained in Scripture with the behaviour of some African politicians and powerful people whose first thought is for themselves and who have little concern for the poor and needy.
Coming as she does from the absolute monarchy of Swaziland whose human rights record has been criticised by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, speaking out like this takes courage. She does not wish to be seen as a critic of the regime. But she said that the unbelieving world thinks that leadership means lording it over others.
Swaziland’s leaders preside over a country that has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world. It is estimated locally as 40%. The World Health Organisation 2002 data showed that 60% of all deaths are caused by HIV/AIDS. Paul Loughlin began by asking Bishop Ellinah how she has been received since her consecration last year.