By Anne Mugisa
and Juliet Waiswa
THE family of Mukajjanga Kibuuka Musigula, the chief executioner of the Uganda Martyrs, has apologised to the Church of Uganda, 122 years after he killed the Christians.
Namirembe Bishop the Rev. Samuel Balagadde Ssekkadde told pilgrims at the Namugongo Protestant Martyrsâ€™ shrine yesterday that Mukajjangaâ€™s grandchildren delivered their written apology to the provincial offices.
â€œWe forgave them and welcomed them to the body of Christ and recruited them into the ministry of the Church of Uganda,â€ Ssekadde said as the crowd cheered.
Mukajjangaâ€™s grandchildren, said Ssekkadde, confessed they had been haunted by his grim reputation, prompting them to shy away from Christians.
Mukajjangaâ€™s remains are buried at Buyonga in Kakiri, about 30km from Namugongo, at the well-maintained Buyonga tombs.
The Protestant shrine was built on the spot where the martyrs were burned and the stream where Mukajjanga washed his hands allegedly to cleanse himself.
The executions started in January 1885 with the killing of three young Christians, Rugarama, Kakumba and Sserwanga at Busega.
By the end of January 1887, a total of 45 martyrs had been killed: 22 Catholics and 23 Protestants. The bulk of the martyrs, 25 of them, were burned where the Protestant shrine stands, on June 3, 1886. Of these, 13 were Protestants and 12 Catholics. Charles Lwanga was burned at the site where the Catholic shrine stands, about a kilometre away.
Other martyrs were beheaded, chopped to pieces, castrated and burned in Busega, Nakivubo, Munyonyo, Mityana, Mengo, Old Kampala, Namanve and Takkajjunge.
The killing was ordered by Kabaka Mwanga who was incensed that the Christians had declared Jesus above him. Desperate to hold on to absolute power and the throne in the midst of overwhelming political challenges, Mwanga set out to destroy the Christian faith.
According to the Church, the actual number of the killed Christians has never been established.
This yearâ€™s commemoration was organised by the dioceses of Bunyoro Kitara, Masindi Kitara, Rwenzori and South Rwenzori. The King of Bunyoro Kitara, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, was the chief guest at the Namugongo, while Nigerian Bishop Edmond Akanya was the preacher.
Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, deputy Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and the Church of Uganda head Henry Luke Orombi and a visiting southern Sudanese Bishop Daniel Deng were among the dignitaries. The pilgrims were entertained by performance from different groups, including Uganda Martyrs Secondary School, Namugongo.
Addressing the mammoth congregation, Orombi said he was due to lead 110 bishops to Jerusalem for the Anglican Communion slated for June 22.
Over 1,000 bishops from the Anglican Church are boycotting the Lambeth Conference, the highest doctrine and policy setting assembly, due in Westminster, protesting the attendance of pro-gay bishops.
â€œWe are going to Jerusalem because the Christian faith started there. We are going back to look for direction. Pray God makes this a watershed in the Anglican Communion,â€ Orombi said.
Iguru castigated self-seekers who he said pitted Catholics, the Protestants and Muslims against each other. He also said whites did not teach Africans about God, because they knew him already.
Iguru asked the clergy to guide the people towards unity given that the continent is fractured by hatred and xenophobia. He cited the Kenya crisis, war in Darfur, Sudan and in Somalia.