Uganda Martyrs: They beat them as if that were not enough and burned them

The Uganda martyrs are a group of 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans converts to Christianity in Uganda who were executed between 31st January 1885 and 27th January 1887, Martyred by Kabaka Mwanga II And venerated in Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion. The most notable martyrs are Charles Lwanga, Kizito and Andrew Kaggwa they were killed on order of Mwanga II The Kabaka (King) of Buganda.

The deaths took place at a time when there was three way religious struggle for political influence at the Buganda royal court.

A few years after the English Church Missionary Society used the deaths to enlist wider public support for the British acquisition of Uganda for the Empire. The Catholic martyrs of its faith in 1920 and canonized them in 1964.

The publication in Britain of an 1875 letter purporting to be an invitation from the king of Buganda, Kabaka Muteesa I, to send missionaries, resulted in the arrival of Allexander Mackay from the Anglican Church Missionary Society to Buganda in 1877. And the group of French Catholic (White Fathers) who were leaded by Pére Simon lourdel know as Fr. Mapera has appeared two years later.

The Arab traders from Zanzibar had introduced Islam into the Kingdom of Buganda and this has effectively led to a three way religious struggle for political influence at the Buganda royal court. By the mid 1880s many had been converted by each of the three groups and some of the one who were converted held important posts at the King’s court but Kabaka Muteesa himself sympathized with Islam, but many prominent chiefs had become Christians.

King Mwanga II succeeded to the throne in 1884, after year he ordered the execution of Yusuf Rugarama, Makko Kakumba and Noah Serwanga who had converted to Christianity.

King Mwanga II

In 1886 Mwanga ordered the executions of many members of the royal court for refusing to yield to his religious demands, which he saw as insubordination.

Joseph Mukasa was the first to be executed on 15th November 1885, this was at the instigation of the Katikkiro (Prime Minister) Mukasa was tipped to become king then, between 25th may and 3rd June 1886. And then a wider series of executions were carried out and Mwanga instructed the killing of all young men whom disobeyed him and people were burned alive at Namugongo in 1886.

Achilleus Kiwanuka, Adolphus Ludigo Mukasa, Ambrosius Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Bruno Sserunkuuma, Charles Lwanga, Gyavira Musoke, James Buuzaabalyaawo, Luka Baanabakintu, Mukasa Kiriwawanvu, Mugagga Lubowa and Mbaga Tuzinde.

By: Bertrand Munyazikwiye

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