Reviews & Profiles
A church in memory of Bishop James Hannington
Posted Wednesday, March 13 2013 at 00:00
Decades after the death of Bishop Hannington, Christian faithful have flocked the place of his death. The site still has the pulpit from which he preached and here some people congregate to pray.
A reverend with a Bible and a Muslim in an Islamic cap is what welcomes us to the Bishop James Hannington memorial site.
Reverend Archdeacon Thomas Mwandha heads the archdeaconry of Kyando and Omar Bongo Muwaya Ductoor is the district chairman, Mayuge and the two gentlemen are community leaders.
Despite their religious differences they are out to promote tourism in this part of Busoga, in Kyando, eastern Uganda, where one of the first missionaries to have visited Uganda was killed, in cold blood on October 29, 1885.
Thirty-eight-year-old Bishop James Hannington, was put to death at the command of Kabaka Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa, Buganda kingdom’s 31st king, who ruled between 1884 and 1888.
Kabaka Mwanga’s fear was that Christianity was growing fast among his subjects and this, to him, became an increasingly great threat to his rule. He did not have the political wisdom to keep the religions at bay, just the way his father, Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe Kayiira who was king, from 1856 until 1884, had.
Mwanga II was more emotionally driven and acted aggressively in banishing missionaries and passing a rule by which converts were to denounce their faiths or face death.
His father had cleverly made the three sects— Catholics, Protestants and Muslims believe he was on their side by creating confusion within them as a way of letting them believe he was there to have them work together yet he worked at dividing them and disempowering them.
This is a story told in bits and pieces by the locals, the reverend, and existent literature about the death of Bishop Hannington who Mwanga stopped short, on his way to Buganda, from the east.
“At that tomb is where Bishop Hannington was killed, because of the missionary work he came to do from Britain to Uganda in 1885. The leader in eastern Uganda at the time, Chief Luba, was friends with Kabaka Mwanga who had been deposed by whites and when he heard of the bishop’s entry, he ordered that he be killed,” Reverend Mwandha explains as he points to the spot at which the missionary was tortured and killed.
What remains of the event
In the cave is a library where, during his time-off pastoral work, he did some reading. It is a little distance from the place where the stone on which he was killed is kept.
“Here,” Mwandha stresses, “is where he waited eight days in custody. Kabaka Mwanga had ordered this. He was then speared in both sides,” he narrates.
In fact, the bishop had stopped in Busoga, evidenced by a cave where he took shelter during his stay, a well from whose springs he drank water and pulpit from which he preached as he spread the word of the Lord.
Today, a stone to mark and commemorate the point at which he was murdered still stands. It is sheltered in an iron-sheet house which is located downhill, at the end of a heavily-dusty road.
This memorial stands at the foot of Kyando hill which is clustered with stones, the villagers point out to us. This is an outcome of uninspired voluntary tour guides by the villagers of Kyando, who are not willing to take the distance.
The well is, besides providing drinking water for Kyando, a play area for children. That is all there is of this memorial ground with a poignant place in Uganda’s history and that of the Anglican faith— fairly bushy, without a tour guide and no research to share.