Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Uganda and Martyrdom

James Hannington and the Martyrs of Uganda
29 October 1885

Among the nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870's with the favor of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions.

James Hannington was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. He was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington's last words were: "Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood."

The first native martyr was the R C Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886, a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga's household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death "laughing and chattering." These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years.

In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin.

Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

written by James Kiefer


O God, whose blessed martyrs in Uganda

opened in the heart of Africa

the new and living way

of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ:

Grant us, who cherish their remembrance before thee this day,

to remain steadfast in our faith in him,

to whom they gave obedience unto death;

even the same Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

I really do feel for Uganda, the one part of Africa I have visited. It is a beautiful, rich and fertile land with wonderful people. It has also suffered terribly in the past and is doing OK now. But it is not a good or a safe place if you are gay or thought to be gay. Indeed, the Government seem to be hell bent (a phrase I use quite deliberately) on passing a law allowing the death penalty for "aggressive homosexuality". And a 3 year jail term if you do not inform the authorities if you know someone is gay or working for LGBT rights. And in this, the most Christian country in Africa, the Church is devastatingly silent. It appals me that the Church of Uganda, so swift to call for compliance with the Lambeth 98 Resolution on certain matters like moratoria, is so quick to ignore the bit of Lambeth 1:10 that condemned violence against LGBT people. And just why has the Anglican Patriarch of Canterbury so stunningly silent on this? It would be an ideal chance to remind African Anglicans that 1:10 has more than one bit. Believing something is immoral and preaching against it is one thing (arguably legitimate for a start) but supporting (even by silence) a law that is actually far far more explicitly vicious than those of Nazi Germany quite another. Dammit, if they replaced the word Gay with Jewish, all hell would break loose internationally. But no, silence reigns.

God bless Africa.

And save her from herself.

PS Go and read this if you think I'm exaggerating

and this from a more objective standpoint,0

But this says it rather more pithily than my musings:

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