A History of Christianity in Uganda

Published: 2021-09-14 00:30:10
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A History of Christianity in UgandaPresented toDr. G. K. JohnsonForCHHI 302 – Church History IIbyJames Bowers247816716/30/2014Our account starts with Henry Stanley, an explorer and journalist, who was on exploration of Africa in late 1854, to look for the sources and nature of the Nile as well as lakes in central Africa.  It was on this trip that he met the Kabada (king) of Buganda, a central Ugandan tribe.  His name was King Mutesa and Stanley shares a story of Christianity with him.  The king became enthralled and requested that he appeal to Queen Victoria to send missionaries to Uganda.  It was this request that eventually brought Christianity to them.1    Compared to other areas in Africa, missionaries arrived fairly late to Uganda.   Especially since it was almost a century since the missionary impetus from Europe had begun.2Kabaka Mutesa inherited the strongest region as his kingdom in 1856 and over a period of 28 years consolidated and enhanced its powers.  Under his rule Buganda was open to the outside world for trading.  They traded slaves and ivory for cotton cloth, guns, and luxury items with the Swahili and Arab traders from Zanzibar.  Along with the trade came the influences of Islam on religion and cultural lives of the people of Buganda.  When Christianity was introduced, Islam was already introduced having an impact on the Buganda people.3At first Mutesa learned some Arabic, attended and even led prayers in a mosque built at the court.  He was very curious about the teachings of Islam, but as a ruler his concern was largely with matters of state. He saw Islam as a religion in which he could enhance his own power.4That was until Egypt began wanting to include an area that of central Africa, including Buganda, into an Egyptian Empire.  It was during a visit in 1876 that the Egyptians started changing things.  They didn’t like the mosque in Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/563226/Sir-Henry-Morton-Stanley/6877/Discovery-and-development-of-the-Congo. Zablon Nthamburi , From Mission to Church: A Handbook of Christianity in East Africa, ed., published by Uzima Press (Imani House, St. John's Gate, off Parliament Rd., P.O. Box 48127, Nairobi, Kenya) in 1991.Kevin Ward, A History of Christianity in Uganda, http://www.dacb.org/history/a%20history%20of%20christianity%20in%20uganda.html. Zablon Nthamburi.the court or that the King would lead some prayers.  Muslims were told to follow Islamic food laws and to refuse to eat meat slaughtered by the king’s butchers. Because of a number of young pages defiance, some 100 were executed at one of the traditional execution sites of Buganda.   This became a confirmation for Muteesa’s fear that Islam was becoming a political force.5Two years after Stanley’s visit to Uganda, Christianity first came when eight missionaries from the Church Missionary Society arrived in 1877.  Misfortunes came upon the small band of missionaries almost immediately when they reached Uganda.  Two died, two were sent home, and one had to remain at the coast because of his health.  The remainder of the party marched for many months before reaching Mutesa’s court on June 30, 1877.  The reception that they received from the king surprised them and showed the eagerness to learn about Christianity.  One of them by the name of Wilson stayed at the court preaching the Gospel, while two others sail to retrieve the one left behind with the stores because of his health.  While on this trek, the two were murdered by natives of one of the islands in the lake.  This left only Wilson and Mackay, the one left at the coast.  It turns out that while Mackay was waiting he converted many.  He then met up with Wilson Uganda in November 1878.  After asking for reinforcements, they arrived in Uganda the following spring.6 

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