Mukajanga family seeks role in Martyrs’ Day fetes

A pilgrim kneels and prays before effigies depicting the killing of the martyrs at Namugongo on June 2, 2023. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Every year on March 20, the family organises special prayers in Buyonga –Kikandwa, Kakiri Parish in Wakiso District to celebrate Mukajanga’s life, achievements and remind themselves that they are renewed generations. The prayers are graced by religious leaders.

The family of Mukajanga, who is remembered for executing the Uganda Martyrs, has asked for special recognition during the Martyrs’ Day celebration held annually on June 3.

In 1886, Mukajanga, acting on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga, killed 45 Christians at Namugongo in present day Wakiso District.
However, his descendants have demanded that they should be included in the preparation of the Martyrs’ Day celebrations.

In an interview with this publication yesterday, Ms Christine Nakazzi, the administrator of Mukajanga’s lineage, said: “The reason we feel it is very key for us to be involved in such preparations is that we are at the beginning of the action. If he hadn’t fulfilled his obligation of killing the martyrs, whose legacy would we be celebrating every year? The day wouldn’t be in existence.”

She added: “We don’t want people to worship Mukajanga or his family but we want them to acknowledge and celebrate his action with us.
“According to stories told to us by our grandfathers, and relatives, I consider him to be a royal guard of Buganda Kingdom who was very active, energetic, determined, and loyal to the king. When I relate to the stories, I see him as a soul whose works should be appreciated and recognised,”  

Ms Nakazzi said there is more to Mukajanga that the public does not know and the family should be allowed to share it during the Martyrs’ Day fete.

 “He should not be judged harshly but should be considered as a person who was simply fulfilling his duty as a loyal servant of the Kabaka Mwanga II. When you are commanded to work or perform an activity, you don’t question the king. You act accordingly. We want the perception to change. The stigma must be dealt away with,” said.

Ms Nakkazi said Mukajanga died a reformed Christian who was later named Paul Kibuuka and that many of his relatives are priests.
She also reveals that a church was built in Mukajanga’s village in memory of two of his sons whom he killed. They were among the 45 Uganda Martyrs.

 “He killed two of his sons, Mbaga and Kizito Omuto. He did not let other people kill them. By the time he took them to the fire, he had already killed them not because of a bad heart, but he didn’t want to see them suffer for long,” she explains.

Rt Rev Michael Okwii Esakhan, the Bishop of Kumi Diocese, advised Mukajanga’s family to get in touch with the Diocese of Namirembe so that they are introduced to the planning teams.
 Rev Okwii added that the family can seek guidance from the principal of Namugongo Martyrs Seminary, whom he says is the overall boss of the site.

 “We want all Ugandans to be involved including Mukajanga’s family.,” he said.
  Rev Esau Bbosa, the officer-in-charge of the Uganda Martyrs Anglican Site, who doubles as the Principal of Namugongo Martyrs Seminary, welcomed the move and encouraged Mukajanga’s family to contact him for further discussions.

 “They usually come here every year and we don’t have any issues with them,” Rev Bbosa said.
Mr James Ogoola, a retired principal judge and chairperson of the publicity committee for this year’s celebrations at the Anglican site, said: “It is important for anybody to be involved in the celebrations, first of all as a pilgrim.”                                                                                            
Ms Nakazzi thanked the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, for asking the public to forget about the negative perception towards the family and look at them as a reformed generation that should be forgiven for what their ancestors did and be accepted in community.

  “It used to be very difficult for us to come out and declare that we were from his family. We had been labelled grandchildren of a killer. Others said we were witches capable of doing great things to them,” she says.

 She also urged the government to support them financially to undertake several projects aimed at keeping Mukajanga name alive.
These include preserving all the equipment he used, build a memorial vocational institute, a hotel for tourists and pilgrims and also turn his burial site into a tourist site.

Mr Eliasafu Nsubuga, alias Mukajanga Omulamu (meaning Mukajanga who is alive), a clan member, said in 1882, while still a youth, Mukajanga was taken to serve in the Kabaka’s palace as a royal guard.  

 He was assigned the job of displacing errant subjects.
 He set up his offices adjacent to a water stream at the current Anglican site in Namugongo, Wakiso District.
It is believed that most martyrs were killed on their way to his office.