Govt critic, fake news and merchant of peace: Archbishop Lwanga’s quotable quotes

Archbishop Lwanga and President Museveni pictured at State House, Nakasero in April 2018 after a meeting following a Good Friday sermon (2018) where the prelate revealed that his life had been threatened by an anonymous caller who claimed the state had received information linking him to a plot to overthrow the government. PHOTO/PPU/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • On February 15, Dr Lwanga pelted condemnation at security forces after a wave of abductions and torture had been mounted on citizens with the issue disdainfully addressed by government.

Pronounced dead less than 24 hours after leading the traditional 'Good Friday' celebrations, the Archbishop of Kampala Arch-diocese, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga leaves a mark as a perceived critic of the reigning government who was also unlimitedly-vocal on societal issues like marriage, land ownership, human rights and security. While Dr Lwanga was critical of the government, he was also known to praise the President on occasion. We take you through some of his remarkable statements.

-God wants peace not violence-

Denouncing the violent scenes that the country witnessed on November 18, 2020 during a tense electoral season- Dr Lwanga rallied Ugandans to be merchants of peace. 

"Wherever you intend to fire bullets or hurl teargas canisters, ask yourself if it suits the motto, 'For God and My Country."

“Let us always remember that God wants nothing from us but peace and all of us should strive to have that peace but not violence. Peace should be right from within our hearts,” Dr Lwanga said.

-Elections be extended by three years-                    

Barely a month to the January 14 polls, the cleric got stirred into controversy after he suggested that elections be postponed for three years for the nation to sail through a health and economic crisis- owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We know the Constitution says if elections are postponed, the Speaker of Parliament takes over government. Article 259 of the Constitution allows Parliament to amend laws. We are asking Parliament to sit down and amend the Constitution to allow President Museveni to continue ruling and guiding the country during the period of three-year postponement of elections,” Dr Lwanga told journalists in Kampala.   

“This was not my proposal; it was a proposal of Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) which I’m the chairman. But I have been demonized on social media …This is our suggestion not an amendment, anybody is free to come up with their own proposals,” Lwanga said in sheer defence of a suggestion that also advocated for constitutional amendments. 

-Dr Lwanga on abductions and torture-       

On February 15, Dr Lwanga condemned security forces after a wave of abductions and torture had been mounted on especially opposition-leaning citizens with the issue hardly addressed by government..

“I remember when NRM came to power, the President (Museveni) said they came to resist the politics and leadership of Idi Amin and Milton Obote regimes. If this is still the same National Resistance Movement (NRM), I call upon your government to continue resisting the evil abductions, torture and killings of people,” the now deceased Archbishop said then.

“Dr Lwanga and Church plot to kill Bobi Wine”

Dr Lwanga who was born in 1953 before ascending to the Archbishop’s throne on August 19, 2006, voiced concern over the growing vice of fake news and misinformation after anonymous people accused him of nurturing intent to murder 2021 National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.

“Some people came out to say I and the Catholic Church were plotting to kill Bobi Wine and we would poison him through the Holy Communion. That was a big allegation, I can’t do that. I am the one who wedded Bobi. That means I have a personal attachment to him. Bobi loves his Church and he should not be made to hate it just like that.”

“Such is one of the examples of how social media is being misused. How do you such such things unless you’re the one planning it!” he remarked on Christmas day, 2020. 

-Dr Lwanga denies plot to overthrow Museveni-

In March 2018, Dr Lwanga downplayed reports that he was plotting to overthrow President Museveni.

Dr Lwanga's comments were in reference to a phone call he reportedly received from an anonymous person indicating that the state had received information linking him to a plot to overthrow the government.

The caller reportedly told him that government had recruited informants within the church’s ‘set up’- who had surrendered information to the president on the alleged plot.

"A few days ago I got a telephone call and on the the telephone you can see the number of the person but it had 'private', so I didn’t know [who was calling]. This person had an accent from western Uganda and this is what he told me. That 'there are many lies being told to the president'. Two, that 'even members of these organisations have recruited your priests, your sisters, your brothers, even catechists and even seminarians.' And I said, 'what?'

"Even this man [anonymous caller] told me last week that be careful my Grace. You might be the next[Janan] Luwum. I said my goodness! If God wants me to die that way, I will. But if I am going to die for wrong accusations, that is criminal. You know for murdering people there are two things; you can shoot a person over what they call character assassination. So some members of ESO, ISO, CMI etcetera, they are character assassinating people and that is not good. But fortunately, those of you who are believers, there is still in a period of lent which are concluding tomorrow…I kindly call upon you to repent and stop telling lies." Lwanga pleaded.

"I call upon all of you to stop telling lies. Stop misleading our president. Mr President we love you very much and that is why we have been electing you. These people are your enemies. They’re going to make you fail because your mind is poisoned and you act on such information."

The cleric who was Saturday morning found dead in his room, last made a public appearance on April 02 during celebrations held in commemoration of Jesus' crucifixion, centuries ago. 

-Extend love- 

Dr Lwanga was among other things usually heard urging masses to uphold what Christianity emphasizes as God’s greatest commandment.  

“Love your neighbour like you love yourself. We should aim at having a peaceful relationship with God our creator,” he told a congregation of mourners during requiem mass for Rev Fr Joseph Lumanyika on November 23, 2020. 

Speaking on the same day from within the walls of the cross-shaped Lubaga Cathedral, a place familiar with his reign as archbishop, he cautioned mourners against domestic violence. 

“Media reports indicate that domestic violence has surged during these days of the Covid-19 pandemic. What God requests of us is preserving and maintaining peace, even within our families,” he echoed.