Mr. Reuben Kigame is a Christian leader, musician, media personality and political activist from Kenya whose life and work has touched millions in Africa, Europe, America, Canada, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Reuben is an articulate public speaker respected by many. He speaks regularly to High School and university students in Kenya and beyond on diverse themes, ranging from faith to politics, careers, music, media, values and family relationships. His music is used in Churches all over the world and His Apologetics ministry and radio broadcasts viewed as a gift to the modern church especially in Africa. Reuben is well-read and quite inspiring to many given his having beaten many odds in life to be who he is.
His wide knowledge, easy-going personality and his ability to treat everyone with personal respect and touch, his good listening and depth has made Reuben admired by many around the world.
Born on March 13, 1966, in East bunyore, western Kenya, reuben unfortunately lost his sight at the age of 3 years. To quote him:
“I remember one evening after mum blessed our dinner at home, I reached out for the plate and missed it. This shocked me, but especially my mother, brothers and sisters present. We were all to discover shortly after that I was going blind.”
Reuben recounts how he occasionally ran into objects and how, at one time, he slid and fell into a small pond after the rains. this pond had naturally been created by the digging out of mud for use in plastering their house at home. He was rescued by his brothers with whom he had been playing. Reuben was later to discover that he had gone blind from a cataract attack but that it was detected late due to poor medical facilities where he grew up.
Reuben further explains: “Despite my visual disability, I am so thankful that my parents and sibblings did not treat me the way other children living with disability in my country were treated. Ordinarily, children with disability were hidden from the public often as a means of showing that there was no curse in the family. I thank my parents, brothers and sisters for loving me and treating me as they did anybody else. This is probably the reason for my great confidence and courage in life.”
Reuben developed great social skills from an early age. He enjoyed sack-racing, three-legged races, wrestling, high and long jump with fellow village boys and loved Sunday School at Church from very early. He enjoyed modleing clay into different shapes, known and imaginary, playing with kites, car tyres, wheelbarrows and even assisting with fetching water from the nearby river.
Reuben joined Kibos School for the Blind in Kisumu, Kenya, at the age of 7. Here he excelled academically despite early struggles with adjustment from the warmth of home into a boarding setting. The boarding environment, however, introduced him to other boys and girls who were blind, but exhibited diverse talents and abilities. He distinguished himself early as a good speaker through the Debating Society and a good singer through the school choir. He was then to establish his own small band that became very popular during the last three years of elementary school. He mostly wrote songs, did the musical arrangements for the band even though he could not play anything beyond percussions.
Having passed the Certificate of Primary Education exams well in 1980, Reuben proceeded to the Salvation army High School for the Blind in Thika, Kenya, where he was from 1981 to 1986. Here, Reuben excelled academically, but also greatly developed his public speaking and music talents. It was while at High School that Reuben clearly heard the Gospel and became a believer in Jesus Christ. He then joined Kenyatta University in 1987 from where he graduated in 1990 with a B.ed in History, Philosophy and Religious Studies. Reuben was mentored in Christian Apologetics at the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Apologetics Institute based in atlanta, Georgia, from 1996 to 1998 and is currently working on two Masters programmes in Apologetics and Journalism/Media Studies respectively.
Reuben’s parents, Susan and Richard Lichete brought Reuben and his sibblings up under a harsh economic environment. While Richard worked as a long-distance bus driver, he was hardly home where Susan literally took care of the family by herself through pottery and subsistence farming. Although his father is now a staunch Christian, he had no regard for faith when Reuben was growing up alongside his three brothers and three sisters, because he drunk his wages away.
Reuben married his college sweetheart, Mercy Wanderwa Mwangi, in May 1991 at a colourful ceremony at St. Francis Anglican Church of Kenya, in nairobi. They got three daughters: Shalom (born 1992, now a Communications student at Daystar University), Shekinah (born 1994, now a music student at Kenyatta University) and Shema (born 2003). Unfortunately, Mercy went to be with the Lord on September 5, 2006, following a tragic road accident when driving Shema to hospital. Shema survived. Reuben then married one of Mercy’s friends, Julie Alividza Mugone who was also a member of Sifa Voices, a music team Reuben established in 1996. Together they have a son, Yeshua, born in February, 2010.
Reuben has been a committed Christian since 1981 when he accepted the Lordship of Christ at a Sunday service at the Salvation Army High School for the blind. Reuben explains:
“For some time I hated God and did not want much to do with Him as a teenager. I thought that God had favourites and I knew I was not among them. I also thought He was waiting for when I would start having fun and then stop me. I wanted my freedom and so I soaked myself with friends, music and the drug,Cannabis. My youth was being messed up by this rebellious lifestyle until God performed what I would just describe as a supernatural heart transplant, removing my heart of stone and giving me a heart of flesh.”
It all happened when, as Reuben says, he understood that God loved him in spite of the handicap and that running away was only making things worse in his life. Through John 3:16 and Revelation 3:20, Reuben understood that he was a determined rebel before God, but that God really loved Him still and wanted a better life for him. He yielded his life to Him.Although he was tempted to become a Muslim in view of his best friends having been some and despite lots of philosophical challenges to his faith at the university, reuben has stood as one of the staunchest believers in Jesus the world has ever seen.
Reuben insists that it is not enough to have faith. that faith must be based on solid facts. He says there are good reasons to demonstrate that only Christ is the way to God:
- His sinless life, sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead which has been proven by good historical evidence.
- The inerrancy of the Bible.
- All religions accept the uniqueness of Jesus as a prophet from god and that He told nothing but the truth.
- that only Christianity has fully answered the question of the problem of evil in the world.
Reuben says, “I checked Hinduism and I did not like the Caste system. I checked Islam and I could not stand the fatalism and the violence. I checked ancestral worship among my people in Kenya and it left me wondering how people can worship fellow creatures.Besides, African religions simply left me desperately reeling from the teaching that my handicap was the problem of curses in my family. … Atheism was too cheap for me. …”
As early as 1983, Reuben began to attend youth camps at the Diguna evangelistic mission station at Mbagathi, Nairobi. He became close friends with Vic Paul, a missionary who became his mentor until his death in 2009. Vic Paul’s life of simplicity, prayerfulness, sacrificial living and spending oneself for others rubbed heavily on reuben. He would travel with Vic Paul around Kenya and East Africa and, several times, Vic asked Reuben to accompany him for Gospel meetings in germany and switzerland. Vic taught Reuben a lot on radio broadcasting technology, leading to Reuben’s single-handed establishment of Fish FM, a popular radio station in Kenya (www.fishkenya.net).
Reuben resigned from a teaching career in 1994 to enter outreach, first by working with Kenya Youth For Christ and then founding Word of Truth Ministries, an Apologetics organization that engages in friendly dialogue with critics and opponents of Christianity. he answers questions on Christianity and explains the Gospel to all, but especially those with intellectual obstacles to faith.
Reuben’s faith has been largely influenced by his close Christian friends around the Diguna circle and those in college, the reading of the Bible and of authors such as Justin Martyr, augustine, ThomasAquinas, Blaise Pascal, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, Harry Blumaires, Alister McGraath, Malcolm Muggeridge, Michael Green, John Stott, John warwick Montgomery, Josh McDowell and the work of his mentor, Dr. ravi Zacharias. He says his spiritual role model remains Billy Graham, the great American evangelist.
Reuben began to sing around the family table before his mother led the family in prayer just before going to bed. His love for music was further inspired by his eldest brother, Philemon, who played guitar from very early and who had his own band that occasionally practised at home. He tried his hands at percursions that early. it is, however, in school that his talent blossomed in society with other boys. First, there was a small band in primary school then he joined Super Igniters in High School. when he became a christian he abandoned Super Igniters and joined a band that played mostly christian songs, called the Starlights. He was then to leave the Starlights and establish his own band, The Ambassadors with which he sang and played for the rest of his High school days. He was then to join the Youth for Christ music teams while at the university and gained national recognition through this group because of their constant appearance on two of Kenya’s greatest early television shows, Sing and Shine and Joy bringers Family show. The Kenya
Broadcasting corporation was to discover Reuben’s talent of both singing, playing and speaking and began to invite him regularly for ministry at their Religious Broadcast Department.
Later Reuben established Jubilee, a music group that succeeded his college confines. Later he was to sign up with his friends to bring up another music group called Victory sound which ended up recording one great album, “Dunia Ni Shangwe.” It is while with Victory Sound that Reuben’s musical inclinations began to change and he began to experiment with large choral arrangements on a full accompaniment. At first he recorded worship music under this new style which he simply labelled, “Reuben Kigame and Friends.” he later called this team Sifa voices. See www.sifavoiceskenya.com
Reuben’s music recording journey, however, began in 1987 when a friend called Imbumi Makuku booked Reuben at a small studio at Transworld Radio in Nairobi. He was to record his first album, what a Mighty god We Have that year. His second album was recorded shortly after during his visit to Germany with Vic Paul late 1988 into early 1989. To date, Reuben has released 20 albums, the last one, Raw Emotions, released in 2011.
Reuben debuted his broadcast career in 1999 by starting to send a thirty minute programme called “Come Let Us Reason” to Sayare Radio in Eldoret. He briefly worked with Radio citizen in 2001 while the station was still new and wrote jingles for them. He was asked by Mr. Leo slingerland to join him at Family Media to present a daily show at Family FM, which he did for one year. He has worked at Biblia Husema and briefly volunteered at Kameme fM. Reuben was also instrumental in the launch of Hope fM in Nairobi and worked there as a presenter. It is no wonder that he was groomed enough to dream and set up Fish FM which began to broadcast in 2006.
Reuben has received several awards. For a comprehensive listing, please visit the Reuben Kigame Music Fan Page on Facebook.
On Heroes’ day (Mashujaa Day) in 2010, Reuben was given a Head of State award, the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW) in recognition of his contribution to Kenya’s media and music.
Reuben has always written or spoken on issues of justice, equality, good governance etc since his student days. He wrote a booklet while at Kenyatta University titled, “Communism and the Christian Faith” besides several essays on political and social themes. He was very keen and constantly mobilized his friends towards supporting the clamor for multiparty politics which national push led to the repealing of section 2 A of the old constitution which had limited the country to only one party. he attended several rallies on this matter. he says, “I began to vote for Kibaki as early as 1992 and was glad when he finally became the president in 2002. I was disappointed by his leadership one year into his rule and I became one of the critics of his policies, but especially his relaxed attitude towards corruption and impunity.”
Reuben has been vocal in speaking against the liberalism in the constitutional processes in Kenya and opposed both the first 2005 constitution and the 2010 constitution which was adopted that year for what describes as, “a bad, calculated process, an anti-Christian legislation and sheer ignorance of both constitutionalism and justice.” Nevertheless, he says he respects it now that it is the supreme law of the land and hopes he can push towards the amendment of several bad clauses in future.
Reuben is currently running for Governor in Vihiga County in Kenya and says he hopes to bring about godly change inch by inch, row by row.