ugandamartyrs university Uganda Martyrs University: June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century
June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century
June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century
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June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century


June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda".  Christianity arrived in the kingdom  of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the  nineteenth century. The first missionaries, British A nglicans and French Roman Catholics, were warmly  received by the Kabaka, the king, Mutesa, who  was impressed that they behaved well and brought no  slaves. The mission went well and the first Anglic ans were baptized on March 18, 1882. But on October  9, 1884, Mutesa died.   The new king, Mwanga, was young, just eighteen. He  was suspicious of foreigners and had a savage  temper. In October, 1885, after a dangerous overland  trek from the Indian Ocean coast, the new Bishop  of East Equatorial Africa, James Hannington, made  the mistake of entering Uganda from the east, the  traditional entry point for enemies. He was detain ed and on October 29 executed on order of Mwanga.   But Mwanga did not limit his fury to foreigners. Al ready in January of the same year Mwanga had had  three Anglican boys dismembered and burned becaus e they were working for a missionary, Alexander  Mackay, who had refused Mwanga's protection.   The worst punishments, however, were reserved fo r Mwanga's own servants. Many of the boys of the  king's court had become Christians. They were call ed "readers" because they  had become literate in  order to read the Bible, which Mackay was translating. On May 25, 1886, Mwanga called for some  servants. Two pages entered, named Ssebuggwawo and Mw afu. When he questioned their activities of  the day Mwafu answered that he had been learning  about the Christian faith from Ssebuggwawo.  Mwanga exploded. The king had learned the practice  of sodomy from Arab traders and Mwafu was his  favourite. Mwanga knew that if Mwafu became a Chri stian he would no longer comply. Three Christian  servants were beaten and killed that day; nine more we re executed in various ways over the next week.  Thirty-seven were detained at the execution site at  Namugongo, knowing that their end was not far. The  story of the last days of this mi xed group of Roman Catholic and A nglican teenagers, led by the young  catechist Charles Lwanga, is one of mutual encouragement, of support for one another in prayer, of  steadfast refusal to recant.   The missionaries were heartsick. They pleaded for th e release of the prisoners. They were not forbidden  to preach but were told that as many as were converted would be killed.   Finally June 3 arrived. Lwanga was killed at the place of  detention, roasted over a slow fire. It is said that  he told his executioners that though they were burning  him it was as though they were pouring water over  his feet, 'Beware', he said, 'of the fi re that lasts forever.' The rest we re marched a mile away where they  were rolled in reed mats and bound. Four of the y ounger boys were clubbed to death to spare them the  pain. Five were given a last minute pardon. At noon  the pyre was lit. Thirty-one martyrs were burned.   The violence of the Kabaka's persecution scattered  other believers throughout the kingdom where more  'reading' soon sprung up. The faith of Ugandan Christi anity, nurtured by the wit ness of the martyrs, has  lived through more recent periods of violence. T he regimes of Amin and Obote have both claimed their  victims: Archbishop Janani Luwum, murdered by Id i Amin, is now commemorated along with the young  boys of the nineteenth century.   Today in Namugongo, in the suburbs of Kampala, there  is a small Anglican theological college. In the late  1980's, in the last days of the regime of President  Milton Obote, the Principal of that college was a man  named Kasira. One night soldiers came looking for so me of the students of that college. Kasira, claiming  that he was responsible for those students, refused to  give any information to the soldiers. They killed him  where he stood. In a world which continues to be a  place of violence the martyrs of Uganda remind us  that there will be a day when every tear shall be  wiped away, but that now we are called to mutual  encouragement, prayer, steadfast faith and self-giving love.   This article first appeared in  The Niagara Anglican  in June 1995. Used with permission.  The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand is Academic Dean  and Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and  Mission at Trinity.  Dr. LeMarquand has written an d edited numerous articles and books, including  Why  Haven’t You Left? Letters from the Sudan  and  A Comparative Study of the Story of the Bleeding Woman  in North Atlantic and African Contexts . He is executive editor of Trinity’s new theological journal, the  Trinity Journal for Theology & Ministry and  international editor of  Anglican and Episcopal History

    June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century June 3 is su ch a day, the feast of "The Martyrs of Uganda". Christianity arrived in the kingdom of the Baganda people (now called Uganda) in the latter part of the nineteenth century