Our colleague and friend, Patterson Kuria Gathuru, left us on 15 November 2017. He is known to us as the Habitat International Coalition’s co-member on the IPC, advocating the issues and human rights of the urban food-insecure constituency. Many of you also know him as an IPC colleague in this movement that we share.
Kuria, or Baba Ayub (Father of Ayub), was born on the 27th day of August 1956, in Gituamba Village, Lari Constituency, Kiambu County, Kenya. As any other child then, Kuria grew up helping his parents look after livestock and tend the farm. After having passed his O-Level and A-Level exams in the 1970s, Kuria
proceeded to the University of Nairobi, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1980. He later studied at the University of Khartoum for his Masters in Environmental Studies and Remote Sensing.
Thereafter, he joined Mazingira Institute (Nairobi) as a researcher on the Urban Food and Fuel Situation in Kenya project.
Kuria then fell in love with Dorcas Wambu Kungu. Their 1983 marriage soon was blessed with a son, Ayub Makimei. Twelve years later, they formalized their union at the Attorney General’s Chambers.
In 1987, Kuria left Mazingira Institute to initiate the 1st urban-agriculture project in the slums of Nairobi in an initiative funded by Rockfeller Foundation. Kuria served as Undugu Society of Kenya’s deputy head of programs. By May 1995, Kuria had moved to Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) Kenya as urban program adviser, and then to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) Eastleigh Community Centre for three years.
From 2002 to 2005, Kuria was Kenya Green Towns Partnership Association national coordinator. His mission was to transform Kenya’s urban centers into vibrant socio-economic hubs whose growth is not at the expense of the environment.
Kuria then returned to Mazingira Institute as the coordinator of the Urban Agriculture and Food Security Project. There he was instrumental in developing training on urban agriculture and a farmers network, called Nairobi and Environs Food Security, Agriculture and Livestock Forum (NEFSALF), and got involved in organizing exchanges linking Nairobi, Cape Town and Toronto. In his life, Kuria has traveled in at least 15 diverse countries.
In 1970, he was baptized into the PCEA at Kirenga, then joined congregations at Kariobangi South and Makadara. Since 2009, Kuria has been with the Kariobangi congregation, where he served as a Deacon of Savannah District until his death.
Kuria enjoyed a healthy life until April 2017, when he was taken ill and admitted at Mater Hospital, Nairobi for two weeks and discharged. He was well until 31 October, but was taken ill again, and admitted in the same hospital. He passed on while undergoing treatment on 15 November at 4:40 pm. At 61 years, Kuria left behind a dear extended family, and a legacy of passionate care, work and wisdom.
“Your life was love and labour.”
—Ayub(his son wrote in a tribute to Kuria)