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Father Athanasius graduates

5 October 2010

Father Athanasius Akunda graduated last night as a Doctor of Theology (DTh) at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria.

Fr Athanasius outside the graduation hall

His thesis was on Orthodox dialogue with Bunyore culture.

Father Athanasius grew up among the Banyore people in western Kenya, and he became Orthodox with his family when he was about 12 years old. The Orthodox Church was planted there by Bishop Arthur Gathuna and other missionaries from Kenya, but during the Mau Mau emergency in the early 1950s, when most of the Orthodox Kenyan clergy were detained in British concentration camps, they also received ministry from clergy from across the nearby Ugandan border.

Fr Athanasius goes to kneel before the Pro-Vice Cancellor to be capped

The graduation ceremony was conducted by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor because the university Vice Chancellor and Principal, the Revd Nyameko Barney Pityana, was himself among the graduates. In spite of having numerous degrees, including doctorates, he graduated as a Master of Laws (LLM) in the field of Labour Law, thus epitomising the university’s principle of lifelong learning.

Graduation at Unisa, with doctoral candidates in red caps and gowns on the far side, with masters' candidates behind them, and candidates for bachelors' degrees filling the upper tiers

Another student who graduated with Father Athanasius was my friend and colleague Zuze Banda, whose thesis on African Renaissance and missiology: a perspective from mission praxis was supervised by Prof. Willem Saayman, who supervised my own doctoral studies 15 years ago.

Father Athanasius goes to the university registrar to have his hood put on.

Father Athanasius worked long and hard on his thesis, taking advantage of trips home to Kenya to conduct interviews among people in the Bunyore Orthodox Churchs, though his own experience in growing up in the area helped a great deal. It also entailed a great deal of reading, to see how Orthodoxy was inculturated in other places, such as Alaska. The external examiners for the thesis were from other universities in Greece, Kenya and South Africa, to ensure that the thesis met international academic standards. I have over 30 versions of his thesis on my computer, and perhaps they could themselves be the subject of a doctoral thesis on how a thesis develops from the rough first draft to the final product! The last version is yet to come: Fr Athanasius must go through it one final time, to incorporate improvements suggested by the examiners, and the final product will go into the university library, and will be microfilmed for distribution to other university libraries.

Revd Fr Dr Athanasius (Amos) Akunda, D.Th.

The university puts on a cocktail supper for the doctoral graduates, their supervisors and guests, which is where most of of the photos were taken.

Fr Athanasius with his academic supervisors: Prof Nico Botha, Dr Athanasius Akunda, Dr Stephen Hayes:

So congratulations to Father Athanasius! Many years!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Chrysostome N. Luse permalink
    7 October 2010 3:44 pm

    Many years and a very warm to Rev. Dr. Fr. A. Athanasius

  2. Chrysostome N. Luse permalink
    7 October 2010 3:46 pm

    Congratulations to Rev. Dr. Fr. A. Athanasius.

  3. 7 October 2010 10:38 pm

    Hearty congratulations Rev Dr Fr Athanasius! What a great achievement.

    In Christ,


  4. gailbhyatt permalink
    10 October 2010 1:48 pm

    What a proud moment.

    My daughter and I will be coming to Africa (God willing, March or April) as she adopts a child from Uganda. We are excited to visit an Orthodox church while we’re there and perhaps even have the child baptized there.

    The thought of Orthodoxy spreading throughout the continent of Africa thrills my heart.

    Congratulations, Father Athanasius. Many years.

  5. permalink
    10 May 2015 11:12 pm

    We are very proud of you V.R.FR.Doctor Athanasios.May God keep you in good health to work in His vine yard there in Kenya.


  1. Farewell to Father Athanasius | Khanya

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