Tobias Otieno Ayayo was a teacher, evangelist, and missionary from Kenya.
Early Life and Education
Tobias Otieno Ayayo was born on November 11, 1928, in Magunda village, presently in Malanga Sub-location in North Gem Location of Siaya County, Kenya, to Pastor Silfano Ayayo Mijema and Asenath Ngalo, daughter of Owiti Ong’wana. His father was instrumental in bringing the Seventh-day Adventist Church to Central Kavirondo (which later became Central Nyanza and is presently the Kisumu and Siaya counties).1
Tobias Otieno Ayayo spent his childhood in Gem in Siaya County, and his youth in various stations in South Nyanza (presently Homabay and Migori counties) where his father worked. He received his early education at Malanga Sector School from 1935-1937 before moving to Maliera Sector School from 1938-1940. He then relocated to Maliera Primary School from 1941-1944 and finally Rabwao Primary School in 1945.
From 1946-1948, he attended Kamagambo Intermediate School where he was baptized by Pastor Nicolao Opiyo in 1946. From 1949-1951, Ayayo attended Bugema Adventist Mission College for ministerial training. On his return, he became a teacher and was posted to Nyamome Primary School and later moved to Ranen Primary School. From 1953-1954, he returned to Bugema Adventist Mission College to study Theology.
On March 11, 1954, Pastor Tobias Otieno Ayayo married Rosebella Njoga, the daughter of William Ayodo and Drusilla Sabwala at a wedding at Wang’apala Seventh-day Adventist Church that was officiated by Pastor Ezra Mitoko. Rosebella had trained and worked as a nurse, and her siblings were Samuel Onyango, Jonathan Onunga, Ezra Otieno, Modecai Osano, Ludiah Ojwang Okech, Mical Ndonga Omom, Hulda Abongo Oyugi, Judith Auma Okoyo, Damaris Osuri Ochola, and Caren Atieno Adhaya.
Tobias and Rosebella Otieno were blessed with the following children: Edwina Atieno, Stephen Ochieng, Zachary Ngalo, Paul Oluoch, Cleveland Ayayo, Christine Adhiambo, James Ayodo, and Rena Awino. Tobias’s mother died in 1959, and his father passed away on April 21, 1984.
On completion of his Theology Training, Pastor Tobias Otieno Ayayo started working as a preacher and an evangelist. From 1956-1960, he was the chaplain at Kendu Mission Hospital. In 1960, he was ordained into the Gospel Ministry and posted to Lala District of Wiobiero Station as a licensed minister.2 From 1961-1962 he taught in the Ministerial Department of Bugema Missionary College after becoming an ordained minister.3 From 1963-1966, he served as a missionary in Tanganyika. His first call was in Dar-es-salaam, where his first effort produced 27 converts who were baptized. The number grew, and later churches were planted, missions established, and fields built in Dar-es-salaam, Kahama, Malampaka, Ntusi, Bupandaghila in Sukumaland, and in the Bukoba and Geita regions. In 1967, he returned to Kenya and was posted to Gwasi as a district leader. Gwasi is presently in Homabay County.
At Ranen Field
Between 1968-1974, he worked at Ranen Field as an ordained minister,4 an officer in the Education,5 Temperence and YPMV,6 Administration/Education, Temperance and YPMV, Departmental Secretary.7 As part of his ministry, he organized Ranen music festivals. From 1975-1989, he served as district leader in the following districts: Karungu, Obera (Kabuoch), Sota (Kadem)8, Raguda (Karungu), Migori Town, and Nyaduon’g.9
Between 1990 and 1992, he was posted to Ranen Field Headquarters where he served on the Executive Committee and in the Sabbath School, Stewardship, and Development departments, along with his ministerial duties as an ordained minister. It was during this tenure that he organized fundraisers through the Church fraternity, the Community, and friends of the Church where funds were raised with which a laboratory building was constructed for Ranen Secondary School, an ambulance was purchased for the Ranen Health Centre, and houses for two workers of Ranen Field were constructed.
In 1992, Pastor Tobias Otieno Ayayo retired from active service and settled at his home at Got Kayayo in Achuth, Migori County, where he started a new phase of his life. He embarked on a more vigorous service to God and to humanity. He was elected to serve on boards of Management (formerly the Board of Governors) of several schools by his community.
Ayayo organized fundraisers where enough resources were mobilized to build the Got Kayayo Seventh-day Adventist Church complete with a baptismal pool. The church was dedicated on July 31, 2011. He had donated the land on which that church was built. The Maliera Central Seventh-day Adventist Church was built on land that was formerly their home before they migrated to South Nyanza. His father donated all the land to the church. It became the Seventh-day Adventist Mission Station. On the land presently is a nursery and primary school and the Maliera Seventh-day Adventist Dispensary.
The Magunda Seventh-day Adventist Church in Gem Sub-County of Siaya County is at his birth place in Magunda. After a long period of illness, Tobias Otieno Ayayo passed away on July 25, 2013, at Baraton Jeremic Community Hospital. He was 84.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.
Unless stated otherwise, this article is based on personal knowledge of the author, Roseline Atieno Ayayo, who was the daughter-in-law of Pastor Tobias Otieno.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1960), 175.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1961), 176.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1975-1992).↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1968), 264.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1973/1974), 95.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1969, 1970), 270.↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1975-1989).↩
“Ranen Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1971), 99, and (1972), 95.↩