Bishop of Swaziland Ellinah Wamukoya

Bishop of Swaziland and global environment advocate Ellinah Wamukoya dies from Covid

Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya
Photo Credit: Anglican Church of Southern Africa

The Bishop of Swaziland, Ellinah Wamukoya, died this morning (Tuesday) after contracting Covid-19. Her death was announced by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Bishop Ellinah, known around the world for her advocacy on environmental issues, was admitted to hospital late last week and put on Oxygen therapy after contracting Covid-19. She was 69.

“It is with profound sorrow that I have to announce the devastating news that the Bishop of Swaziland in eSwatini, the Right Revd Ellinah Wamukoya, died today”, Archbishop Thabo said. “We express our deepest condolences to her husband, Okwaro Henry Wamukoya, their children and grandchildren. May her soul rest in peace.”

The Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jack Palmer-White, paid tribute, saying: “She was wonderfully dedicated to so many causes – particularly demonstrated through her leadership of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network for a number of years.”

The Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, Rachel Carnegie, added: “This is such desperately sad news. Bishop Ellinah was an inspiration to so many. A great loss to the whole Communion, but my prayers especially for her husband and family and those who worked most closely with her in the diocese, province and around the world.”

Bishop Ellinah Ntfombi Wamukoya was elected Bishop of Swaziland in 2012, becoming the first female bishop in the Anglican Church in Africa. She was previously the Town Clerk of Manzini, eSwatini’s commercial hub, having earlier served as the City Planner. She held a Master’s degree in Town and Regional Planning.

“She had a history of serving in community offices and organisations, and had a long involvement with the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland. She was ordained priest in 2005. At the time she was elected bishop, she was Anglican chaplain to the University of eSwatini.

In her Diocese, the Province of Southern Africa and throughout the wider Anglican Communion, Bishop Ellinah was widely known for her advocacy of the integrity of creation. She was the liaison bishop for the environment in the Province of Southern Africa.

In 2016, BBC News listed her as one of the 100 most inspirational and influential women in the world.

In 2018 Bishop Ellinah took part in a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, to discuss the role faith communities can play in tackling gender-based violence.

The Anglican Communion’s Director for Gender Justice, Mandy Marshall, described Bishop Ellinah as “an excellent advocate for women.”

Watch Bishop Ellinah’s contribution to the 2018 Chogom meeting:

Anglican Communion News Service 19 January 2021