News of the death of the Bishop of Swaziland, Ellinah Wamukoya, has been met with great sadness in Scotland, where she was a great friend and a regular visitor thanks to the Diocese of Brechin’s long-standing relationship with the Diocese of Swaziland.
Bishop Ellinah, who was the first female bishop in the Anglican Church in Africa, had recently undergone surgery and was convalescing when she contracted Covid-19. She died in Eswatini on 19 January, aged 69.
She was widely known in the Province of Southern Africa and throughout the wider Anglican Communion for her advocacy of environmental issues and the integrity of creation, and in 2016, she was listed by BBC News as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women in the world.
“We express our deepest condolences to her husband, Okwaro Henry Wamukoya, their children and grandchildren,” said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. “May her soul rest in peace.”
The Diocese of Brechin welcomed Bishop Ellinah to Scotland several times as part of the three-way relationship formed by the Dioceses of Brechin, Swaziland and Iowa, and she visited most recently in 2018 when she attended the consecration of Bishop Andrew Swift (as pictured below).
Visits to Swaziland – renamed Eswatini in 2018 – by representatives of Brechin Diocese have also taken place over years, including a youth pilgrimage and, in 2019, the installation of Mrs Patricia Millar (the Companionship Links Officer for the diocese) as a Lay Canon of All Saints’ Cathedral in the city of Mbabane.
Bishop Andrew said: “It is a devastating news that Bishop Ellinah has died. She has been a great friend and support of the Diocese of Brechin for her time as Bishop of Swaziland and I found her a wise and insightful colleague as I have developed my understanding of the episcopacy.
“It was a privilege to have her attend my consecration and to visit her diocese in 2019. She planned to retire later in 2021, so her death before she was able to end her ministry and spend retirement with her husband Henry and their family is very cruel.
“Bishop Ellinah was an inspiring bishop with a great and effective presence in the wider Anglican Communion as well as in her own province and diocese. She will be greatly, greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”
The Primus, Most Rev Mark Strange, added: “I spent time with Bishop Ellinah during meetings of the Anglican Bishops In Dialogue, and her joy in her ministry and her care for us all was wonderful.
“Her evening greeting of ‘Primus Mark have you been good today?’ accompanied by her wonderful smile will be a lasting memory.”
As well as environmental causes, Bishop Ellinah campaigned on gender matters, and three years ago she was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, to discuss how faith communities can help to tackle gender-based violence. Her contribution can be seen here: