Omukama Kasagama: How he entrenched the Anglican faith 

Omukama Daudi Kasagama. Photo/File

What you need to know:

  • Kasagama was brought up in an environment where the Protestant hegemony was very strong.
  • He also spent some time with Apollo Kaggwa, who had a lot of influence on his beliefs, including the Anglican faith.

Omukama Daudi Kasagama Kyebambe IV ruled as the second king of the Tooro Kingdom between 1891 and 1928.
With the help of his mother Vikitoliya Kahinju, Kasagama managed to escape the wrath of Bunyoro’s Abarusura (soldiers) deployed by Omukama Kabalega to exterminate the devoted bloodline of Olimi Kaboyo, the king of the breakaway Tooro Kingdom, which had seceded from Bunyoro in 1822.

According to Mr William Kwemara Ngabu, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of finance and administration of Tooro Kingdom, Kasagama used to look over his shoulders all the time lest Kabalega would reclaim the break-away territory after having his head on the guillotine. 
Kasagama’s father was Nyaika Kasuga who was also son to Olimi Kaboyo, the founding king of Tooro.

“Kabalega was always intent on reclaiming Tooro, so Kasagama, the then young king was keen on ensuring that the territorial boundaries of his kingdom were well protected. He spent most of his time either running or hiding from death. That must have shaped his survival skills and his assertiveness in pursuing the interests of his community, but also prioritising his safety,” Mr Ngabu said.

Mr Ngabu reveals that after most of her children were killed by Kabalega, Kahinju took her remaining three children to Ankole under the Omugabe (king) for safe custody.
However, by use of a strong spy network, Kabalega eventually got to learn of the whereabouts of Kahinju and attempted to kill all her children, only to succeed on the other two and fail on Kasagama.

The incident forced the mother to forge another way into Buganda Kingdom, which acted as a haven for the heir apparent to the throne in Tooro.
Mr Ngabu explained that it is in Buganda, where Kasagama was placed under the care of Mr Yafesi Byakuyamba, a mutooro, who had initially been taken to Buganda as a slave, only to rise through the ranks to become a saza chief in Buddu.

Kasagama becomes king
The deputy premier further asserts that Captain Fredrick Lugard had wanted to take charge of Tooro but also weaken Bunyoro. Lugard had for eleven years been in charge of Tooro and thus facilitated the installation of Kasagama to the throne in Tooro.
Omukama mobilised soldiers who had been expelled from Tooro with support from Captain Lugard to capture Lake Katwe, Mwenge, Kitagwenda, and Kyaka, among others, and had them placed under Tooro.

“The British were still using indirect rule to govern the country, so the advice from Zakaria Kisingiri, Sir Apollo Kaggwa, and Capt Lugard helped get the young prince from Buganda and he was brought to Tooro, where he was crowned king in 1891 and moved on to lead the kingdom until December 29, 1928, when he died,” MrNgabu explained.

However, Rev Clovis Kyalimpa who has researched extensively on this matter says Omukama was still too young to mobilise soldiers. He reiterates that Capt Lugard organised Baganda fighters under Kisingiri, the then Buddu Saza Chief. 
They were later joined by Tooro guerilla fighters who lodged their assault on Abarusura at Katunguru along the Kazinga Channel and advanced towards Tooro, before eventually defeating the Kabalega fighters at Kikorongo, which is in the present-day Lake Katwe Sub-county, Kasese District, in a battle that lasted two days.

“When the people of Tooro heard that Kabalega had been defeated at Kikorongo, they got excited and joined Kasagama who had pitched camp at Muhokya [present day Muhokya Town Council also in Kasese] of Tooro. Hence, a surge in the force. Lugard was impressed, and he advised the military forces to move to River Ssebwe [found in Kasese Municipality], which had deep banks that served as a defense barrier to the enemy,” he added. 

According to Rev Kyalimpa, Capt Lugard later sought reinforcement from Bunia after getting Sudanese soldiers with whom the Tooro forces were later to establish forts at the areas of Lake Katwe, Kijura, Booma, and another two at Butiiti and Nyakabimba, which are all in present-day Kyenjojo District.
“Whereas throughout 1891 the Kasagama was leading his subjects in recapturing Tooro, he was still the crown prince.
He was later declared and crowned king in 1892 after defeating Kabalega in Tooro,” Rev Kyalimpa explained.

Omukama as an Anglican
Mr Ngabu attributes Kasagama’s relationship with the Anglican faith to his upbringing in Buganda where already the Church Missionary Society had established a mission at Mengo in Kampala.
“Kasagama was brought up in an environment where the Protestant hegemony was very strong. While staying with Yafesi Byakuyamba, he attended catechism classes. He also spent some time with Apollo Kaggwa who had a lot of influence on his beliefs, including the Anglican faith,” Mr Ngabu added.

More than anything else, however, the Tooro Kingdom premier believes that Kasagama’s relationship with the Church was meant to meet the greater need—protection for himself and his kingdom.
“In 1895, the then resident tax collector of Tooro, Ashbanham wanted to arrest the king on accusations of dealing in gun powder, which was prohibited. He hid at a place called Nyabinoko in the mountains of Rwenzori. While there, he sent emissaries to Bishop Tucker, who also engaged Col Colville who was then the governor of the Ugandan protectorate. A tribunal consisting of Bishop Tucker, Col Colville, and Archdeacon Robert Walker was instituted to listen to the matter concerning the king; and he was found innocent,” Mr Ngabu opined.

Omukama Kasagama was baptised on March 15, 1985, at Namirembe Cathedral, taking on the name Daudi with Zakaria Kisingiri assuming the role of his godfather.
Rev Can Ezra Musobozi, the Dean at St John’s Cathedral in Ruwenzori Diocese, concurs with Mr Ngabu that Kasagama’s relationship with the Anglican Church had a lot to do with his survival on the throne and the protection of his kingdom.
“All I can say now is that for whatever Omukama Kasagama did; he has become the icon of Christianity and the pillar upon whom the native Anglican Church was established, especially in western Uganda,” Can Musobozi added.

He cited the abandonment of polygamy as one of those practices after which he convinced his mum Kahinju and his wife Tibaitwa to get baptised and assume the names of Victoria and Damalie respectively on May 8, 1896. Kasagama eventually repudiated his 11 other wives and only remained with Damalie who he wedded in church.

Mr Ngabu explains further that the king’s actions although earned him some criticism from a section of his family members, they also exemplified that he could do whatever Christianity was preaching.

“In 1896, he invited Bishop Tucker to his diocese. This invitation culminated into establishing a mission at Kabarole which was initially being operated as a mere outpost of Mengo. It is important to note that earlier in 1894 even before he became a Christian, he had also invited black Christian teachers notably Petero Nsubuga and Mako Luyimbazi who established missions at Butiiti in present-day Mbale Sub-county of Kyenjojo District and Kabarole in present day Fort Portal Town,” he added.

But Rev Kyalimpa asserted that the spread of Christianity, especially the Anglican faith had a lot to do with Kasagama’s policy directives that not only promoted Christianity but also abolished practices he thought negated the belief in Christ. 

“The king had strong policies geared towards entrenching Christianity across his kingdom and the entire region. The first policy was the ban on all types of traditional worship and witchcraft within the kingdom. He also passed a directive to all chiefs to be baptised and lead a Christian life lest they get sacked. The chiefs were also tasked with making sure that all their children get baptised be they girls or boys,” Rev Kyalimpa explained.

There was also the introduction of formal education in which people learned how to read and write. The schools including Kyebambe and Nyakasura became training grounds for future political and religious leaders.

“The Omukama even wrote a letter to then Queen of England requesting for teachers to help in setting up schools in Tooro. This is how the present-day Kyebambe Girls Secondary School got established (in 1903) and Nyakasura (in 1926),  a few years before his demise,”  Rev Kyalimpa explained.

Mr Ngabu expounded further on this revelation by stating that an attempt to assimilate everybody into the Anglican faith partly explained why more than 80 percent of his chiefs were Anglicans. He adds that it cannot be any more accurate to say that Kasagama is the mettle that founded the Anglican faith in Rwenzori.
Can Musobozi alludes that the seat which has grown to produce six dioceses to wit: Ruwenzori, South Rwenzori, Ruwenzori East, Bunyoro-Kitara, Masindi-Kitara, and West Ruwenzori, his contribution cannot be overstated.

“For a man who offered over 230 acres of land, much as it has been encroached upon, on which St John’s Cathedral seats and also participated in its construction,” Can Musobozi added.
However, with all the immense contributions made towards the development of his kingdom and the spread of the Anglican faith; Omukama Kasagama cannot go unchallenged on some of the decisions he undertook at the helm of Tooro Kingdom.

Mr Johncation Muhindo, a socio-political commentator and team leader at Creations Forum Afrika-CAF, a peacebuilding organisation in the Rwenzori Sub-region, believes most of the current conflict challenges the Rwenzori goes through were equally constructed at the time of Kasagama’s reign.
According to Mr Muhindo, Kasagama’s desire to spread the Anglican faith and also establish education institutions seemed to only look at Batooro without being considerate of the non-Batooro subjects in the Tooro Kingdom.

“Several Bamba, Babwisi, and Bakonzo had been co-opted into the Tooro kingdom, however, when inviting missionaries to Tooro, he never advised them to establish missions or education facilities in the areas where they lived; that is to say the areas of present-day Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kasese. That is why by 1903, we had secondary schools being established in Fort Portal yet Bundibugyo and Kasese had to wait past 1975—long after Kasagama’s death and the collapse of kingdoms—to have a secondary school established in their areas,” Mr Muhindo said.

He argued that Bundibugyo and Kasese largely became areas where the king’s chiefs would go to collect tax yet the non-Batooro subjects had played a role in the installation of Kasagama.
He argued that the Omukama seemed to have forgotten that the non-Batooro and co-opted subjects of Tooro who had not only helped him reinstate Tooro Kingdom but had also provided a safe haven for him at a time when his enemies were after his head.

Mr Muhindo  said: “Around 1894 when he got issues with the colonial administration, he went into hiding in the mountains of Rwenzori. He was protected by Ruhandika [maternal grandfather to Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere] who eventually facilitated his safe travel to Kampala through Ankole where his problems were resolved yet he didn’t seem to appreciate these contributions. Otherwise, what  explains why there were no missions be they Catholic or Anglicans set up in Kasese and Bundibugyo in all his over 35 years of rule?”