Meeting our Eco-bishops: Bishop Ellinah, first woman bishop in Africa

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland made history when she became the first Anglican Woman Bishop in Africa in 2012!

She has a history of serving in community offices and organizations, and holds a Master’s degree in Town and regional planning.
. She holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and African Languages at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. She and her husband Kenyan husband Okwaro Henry Wamukoya have four children and she is a proud grandmother!. She is starting further studies on the theme of Eucharist and the Environment.

Having long been active in the Anglican Church, she was ordained in 2005, and served as chaplain at the University of Swaziland. She has been a firm believer in developing lay ministry across the life of the church. ‘She is someone who will set a direction, both operational and spiritual, and develop a vision for the future’ said a friend, of her potential to provide leadership as a Bishop. ‘She is a restorer of hope, faith and love in the hearts of God’s followers, who has helped believers to connect to Christ, the church and their communities.’

The challenges faced by the Diocese of Swaziland are severe as surface temperature have risen significantly since the 1950s and the process has been progressively getting worse. Bishop Wamukoya knows climate change is a global problem, but she believes it is local action that makes a difference. Globally, climate change warns that in just a few decades, millions of people will go hungry, tens of millions will be flooded in their homes each year and billion people will suffer from drought.

Swaziland has major environmental problems that need to be addressed now before the cost of addressing them becomes astronomical and their negative impact become irreversible. For example, the problem of alien invasive plants is a big one, but financial resources are scarce and the strategies that are being used are not involving the communities. Increase in temperature also leads to a growth in pests which further reduces crop yield. Communities are not being challenged enough to reduce carbon dioxide, waste and other harmful substances.

The Diocese of Swaziland recently held its first Diocesan Environmental Conference. Following this they will be developing their Church Strategy and Action Plan supported by a Climate Change Structure.

Willie Lutes
Willie is an intern with the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. He is part of the Episcopal Church Young Adult Service Corps (YASC)
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