Kathryn Hauwa Hoomkwap was a Nigerian Catholic political activist and social scientist who was a commissioner in Plateau state during the second republic. During the fourth republic, she was a member of the National Executive Committee of the Arewa Consultative Council. (2)
She is also an international board member of the World Youth Alliance and represented the Holy See as a part of a delegation to the United Nations Conference on the status of Women held in Beijing.
Birth and Lineage
Mrs. Kathryn Hauwa Hoomkwap (nee) Bala was born in Shendam, Plateau State to Stephen Mohammed Bala, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police and Mrs. Nuala Doka Bala, a princess from the royal family of Shimankar February 28th 1948. As a daughter of a Police Officer, Kathryn Hoomkwap did not enjoy a stable primary education, as she attended five different primary schools moving with her parents as her father got transferred from one city to the other.
After her primary school in 1963, she was admitted into the prestigious St. Louis College Louisville, Jos, where she did her West African Certificate of Education and her Higher School Certificate. She proceeded to study Political Science at the Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru – Zaria, where she graduated with a Second Class Upper degree. She wored for a few years with the Government of Plateau State and later gained admission to Manchester University in the united Kingdom to do a Masters program in development studies. Unfortunately, this was disrupted by the Government of Plateau State with her appointment as a Civil Commisioner in 1979, so she answered the call to duty and returned home to serve her people.
While in St. Louis College Kathryn became the head girl in 1967, when the civil war aborted the studies of the majority of the student’s populace who hailed from the then Eastern region. There was an exodus but her class and those below her wer not completely depopulate, hence, she started her leadership of the college which lasted for four years. Her class became the pioneers of the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in addition to other students who came from other colleges in the then Benue Plateau State, she still continued the headship of the college.
As an undergraduate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Kathryn was elected Chairperson of Amina Hall, but later resigned on principles because she would not bow to pressure from some ffemale students who wanted to receive male students in their rooms. While at A.B.U she served as the choir mistress for the catholic chaplaincy.
Involvement in the Church
In 1975, Kathryn was invited by Archbishop Peter Jatua of Kaduna, Archbishop G.G. Ganaka of blessed memory (then the Bishop of Jos) and Bishop A Makozi of Lokofa Diocese, to attend a meeting of Catholic Women from the Southern Diocese in Benin City, during the Holy Year, Kaduna province then had he Zumuntar Mata Katolica but the Catholic Women Organization was non existent. After her return from Benin City, Kathryn wrote to all the Bishops of Kaduna Province and sought their approval to found the CWO. With the Episcopal permission granted, she started the CWO, inviting women from Kaduna, Jos, Ilorin, Makurdi, Yola, Lokofa and Maiduguri. She was supported by women like Mrs. Lawrencia Mallam, the Late Mrs. Uwa Lohor, Dr. (Mrs.) Philomena Mutbam, Dr (Mrs.) Bibiana Bawa, Mrs. Angelina Yesufu, Mrs. Amadi, Mrs. Feese, Mrs. Regina Dagat and Mrs. Margaret Gwani. These pioneers, returned to teir various dioceses and founded the CWO and as the organization became a reality, the Episcopal conference of Northern Ecclesiastical province appointed Rev. Fr. John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan (now the Archbishop of Abuja) as their first Spiritual Director, With the formation of the CWO in the Northern dioceses, she was elected Provincial President and served in this capacity for ten years, having founded a solid provincial CWO, the North was ready to join her sisters from the Southern Provinces of Onitsha and Lagos, thus the NCCWO, a National Organization of Catholic Women was born in Jos Diocese, in 1975 and she became the 2nd Vice President.
In 1988, she assumed the Presidency of CWO and served in that capacity for 4yrs. Under her leadership as the National President of CWO, Kathryn drew up the first ever Action Plan, designed a uniform of poplin material as a leveler for all the women and got the approval of the Catholic Bishops Confernce of Nigeria for these. She also secured a land for the NCCWO with the support of her executive particularly the Secretary of NCCWO, Mrs. Lawrencia Mallam. At the end of her tenure, Mrs. Hoomkwap and the members of the Executives handed the first ever Audited Accounts of their stewardship to their successors.
Her leadership of NCCWO provided her with the Ecclesiastic experience to plunge into the service of Regional and International Church work. She was a member of the Naitonal Executive Council of the Christian Health Association of Nigeria, 1989 to 1992, she was the first Catholic woman to be invited to participate in the Anglo phone Episcopal Conference of West Africa (AECAWA) in Ghana in 1985. After her participation at the AECAWA Conference in Ghana, His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, recommended her for appointment as a Consultor at the International Committee of the Pontifical Council for Culture Vatican City and served from 1989 to 1999. During the assignment, Kathryn was appointed a Founding member of the Wawel Club, a foundation for the promotion of Culture in the City of Krakow, Poland. She was appointed along with twenty two other women from different parts of the world including Margaret Thatcher of Britain by the Premier of the Polish Government.
Kathryn was also elected as a Board Member of the World Union of catholic Women Organization at its General Assembly in Guadalajara, Mexico and served at the World Board from 1991-1995. She is also a member of the Board of Advisers, Human Life Protection League (Pro Life Movement).
In April 1994, His Holiness Pope John Paul II appointed Kathryn Hauwa Hoomkwap as Auditoress to the first Special Assembly for Africa on the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican and addressed the Synod on the, “Role of Women in Church and in the Society”. On te day her paper was delivered, His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, commented, “If you were not a wife and a mother, the Pope would have appointed you to work in the Vatican”. It was at this synod that Kathryn had the heavenly privilege of dinning with the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II along with 9 other participants.
It was during the synod that she experienced the proceedings of the preparatory Committee meeting of United Nations Conference on Population and Development popularly known as the Cairo Conference (1994). On returning to Nigeria, Kathryn successfully influenced the Nigerian position on the Cairo Conference by making her contributions to the speech of the Head of Delegation, Mrs. Mariam Sani Abacha, a former First Lady of Nigeria. She was subsequently named as a member of the Nigerian Delegation to the conference. Sadly, because of the controversy surrounding the Cairo Conference, its anti life stance, Gen. Sani Abacha withdrew the Nigerian delegations, but happily he directed the Ambassador to Cairo to read the speech, in which, Nigeria was opposed to the “pro abortion”, as a method of population control and women’s sexual and reproductive rights and sexual rights for adolescents.
Subsequently, she was highly privileged to be appointed to serve the Holy See as a member of delegation to various United Nations Conference: United Nations Fourth Internation Conference on Women in Beijing, China in 1995. United Nations Conference on Habitat II in Istanbul, Turkey in 1996. Speaker, Post Beijing International Meeting on Women, rome organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity Vatican City. Keynote Speaker at the World Press Conference on the Official release of the 1997 Lenten message of His Holiness; Pope John Paul II on the HOMELSS. In the year 2000, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II appointer her head of the Holy See Delegation to the Special General Assembly of the United Nations on Beijing Plus 5, known as “Women 2000” and she was highly privileged to address the General Assembly of the United Nations as the Head of that delegation.
In 1997, she participated in an International Conference on Inter Religious Dialogue tagged: “One World for all” sponsored by the Austria Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vienna. In August 1997, she was invited by the Catholic Women’s League of Australia as the Keynote speaker to their 38th National Biennial Conference in Hobart, Tasmania on ‘Women of Courage; Meeting the Challenge to celebrate a New Springtime of Faith. In May 1999, Kathryn was invited by Women Affirming life and the National Conference on Catholic Bishops of USA as a Speaker to the Conference titled; “Women and the Culture of Life”. In October 1999, she was a Speaker at an Inter Religious Dialogue. She was a Speaker at an Inter Religious Dialogue, conference in November 2004, at Tamale-Ghana on the topic; Peace Preacher and Politicians: Explaining the Christian Paradigm for Peace in the West Africa Sub region.
Kathryn was appointed a Consultor of the Pontifical Council for the Family in 2000 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II and in 2007, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI renewed her appointment on the Council for another five years. As a Consultor of the Council, Kathryn has served as a Speaker on two of the Council’s World Meetings of the Families, 200 in Rome and 2003 in the Philippines. In March 2003, Kathryn was a Guest of the “Radio Maria”, a Catholic Polish Radio in Poland run by Redemptorist priests and also addressed Catholic members of the Polish Parliament on Family and the Culture of Life. She also served as an Executive Director of the World Youth Alliance since 2005.
In Nigeria, Kathryn has at various times been Speaker, at National Eucharistic Congress at Ibadan and Archdiocesan Synod in Jos, to the Seminarians Laity and Youth organization. At Parish level, Kathryn and her husband, Senator George Baba Hoomkwap have been godparents to infants and adults and sponsors to many young married couples.
She became the first female President of Christian Health Association of Nigeria in 1998. CHAN is the oldest and largest Non Governmental Organization in Nigeria founded in 1973 by Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria, Chrisitan Council of Nigeria and Northern Christian Council of Nigeria as the umberella organization of Mission Health Institutions in Nigeria. She assumed the position of CHAN President when the organization was faced with donor fatigue and was at the precipice of extinction.
Being a woman who cut her teeth in good governance in various public, secular and religious organizations, she painstakingly on behalf of the Founding Fathers/Trustees steered the ship of CHAN out from the threat of capsizing. Her tenure in CHAN witnessed the birth of CHAN MediPharm and rebirth of CHAN with a good advocacy structure across the country; She succeeded in spearheading the mobilization of donor/International partners to support CHAN. Under her leadership, CHAN has become the principle recipients for Global Fund for TB Round 5 grants in Nigeria; Prime partner to MSH in a USAID HIV Capacity Building project and also, sustained supports from EED Germany, Christian Aid in other advocacy projects.
Kathryn received a papal award and on January 26th 2008 was invested by Most Reverend Ignatius A, Kaigama, Catholic Arch bishop of Jos as “Dama Dell’s ordine Di San Gregorio Magno” (Dame of St. Gregory the Great), one of the church’s highest honors.
After her HSC, she taught in her Alma Mater, St. Louis College for 9 months and was class mistress of form 1 from Jan 1971 to Oct 1971. When she graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, she served in various positions in Benue-Plateau State and Plateau State Governments, as Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Information; Researh/ Data Processing Officer, Plateau State. Committee for the Resettlement of Displace Persons (CRDP) Keffi; persons displaced by the creation of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; Acting Secretary, Plateau State Housing and Electricity Corporation. She championed a protest against the military government when it took over voluntary agency hospitals in the state
In 1979, Chief S. D. Lar, Governor of Plateau state appointed her as the first female Commissioner in the history of the state. Two weeks after her appointment as Commissioner of Health, Kathryn got the approval of her Chief Executive and returned all voluntary Agency hospitals and grant aided them. She was re-appointed Commissioner in 1983 at the Department of Internal Revenue but this was short lived as the democratically elected government was overthrown by a Military Coup on 31st Dec 1983 and she became a political detainee in Jos prisons for nine months. While in prison, she served the female inmates as a teacher, a nurse and a bible and moral instructor. After her release from prison, Kathryn secured legal assistance for some, prisoner who eventually were set free. Others were granted prerogative of mercy.
From 1987 to 2008, Kathryn has served in these capacities: • Chairperson, Plateau State Board of Internal Revenue • Member of the Governing Council, National Horticultural Research Institure, Ibadan • Board Member, Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority Calabar • Member of the Governing Council of University of Technology, Yola • Member of the Governing Council, Veritas University of Nigeria, Abuja • Chairperson/CEO, Tamin Nigeria Limited • Snr Vice President, Power Works Limited, Abuja
She also performed several important national assignments, Member of the National Organizing Committee of Pope John Paul’s visit to Nigeria 1982; Participant/Rapporteur of Nigeria Economic Summit 1983-1996, Member of the Organizing Committee/ Rapporteur, National Workshop on Crime Prevention and Control, Abuja; Member, Vision 2010 Committee, Member Technical Committee on Human Capital, National Council on Nigeria Vision, Member of the National Organizing Committee of Pope John Paul II visit to Nigeria for the beatification of Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi 1998. Member 1998 Nigerian Constitution Review Committee; Member of the Visitation Panel of the University of Abuja; Member/Rapporteur of President Elect’s Retreat in Badagry May 1999 and President Elect’s Retreat for would be political appointees in 1999.
As a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), she served the party in various capacities; member of the National Chairman’s campaign team 2001, Review Committee of the PDP’s Local Government Primary Elections 2002, Member of the PDP National Peace Committee for South West zone; Ag. Chairperson/Member PDP Electoral Panel of the Primaries in Kaduna State, 2002; Chairperson PDP PSecial Electoral Panel on the Repeat Primaries in Hadejia Senatorial District, Jigawa State; Member of the National Chairman’s Team for the 2003 Presidential Campaign Team of PDP 2003; Chairperson, Appeal panel of the 2006 PDP, National Assembly Primary Election in Imo State and Plateau State Inauguration Committee and Chairperson of the Entertainment/Cultural Sub committee; May 2007.
She is also a recipient of the Member of Order of Niger given by the Nigerian Government.
She was married to senator George Baba Hoomkwap for 37 years and has four children Kekuut Josephine Hoomkwap, Rangtiem Georgina-Alphonsa Hoomkwap, Naanzem Eucharia Hoomkwap and Kwaphoom Eugene Hoomkwap.
Kathryn died of brain hemorrhage on March 16th 2008 in Abuja Nigeria.