'His Christian faith was part of who he was': Tributes to Briton killed on Ethiopian Airlines flight

The family of a man who died when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed with the loss of 157 lives have paid tribute to him and the Christian values that shaped his life.

55 year old Joseph Waithaka (pictured above) had dual British and Kenyan nationality. He lived and worked in Hull, until retiring to Kenya four years ago. This month he was visiting family and friends in the UK, and celebrating the birth of his latest grandchild. He flew out of Heathrow on Saturday and had changed planes in Ethiopia.


One of his sons, Ben Kuria told Premier of the moment he realised his dad had been on board the flight.

"I just saw a news flash saying that an Ethiopian Airline ET302 had crashed about six minutes after take-off. At that point I just put two-and-two together and that's when I started to fear for the worst.

"(At that moment) I just felt the peace of God. As soon as I started to think 'well, yes, I think this might have been the flight that dad was on'. And I was eerily calm when I rang my brother."

The family say they've been touched by messages of support from people in churches in Hull and other parts of the country.

"It's of comfort to know that we've had such an outpouring of love, of prayers and support. And we'll be carried by that."

Wreckage is piled at the crash scene of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash near Bishoftu


Until his retirement, Joseph Waithaka worked with the Humberside Probation Trust. Ben Kuria says his dad's Christian faith shaped all aspects of his life, including his work with young people for the probation service.

"He would talk about them like they were his sons. He saw an opportunity to be really pastoral with some of those lads. And every now and then we'd be walking down the streets of Hull and I'd hear someone shouting 'Joseph, Joseph'. And it was one of the lads he'd really supported. He was just that kind of man who look after those who most people wouldn't even notice.

"(His Christian faith) was part of who he was. In the way that he lived. The dedication and commitment that he showed to people and the esteem that he held people in was a real testament

"He wasn't so much about how much theology you understood. It was whether you were living that truth. Did you have integrity? Did you show love? Did you show kindness? Did you show compassion?"

Listen to Ben Kuria speaking to Premier's Glyn Jones:

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