A tribute to the Lwangas: Forever in our hearts!
The Lwangas were not just Lwangas - they were what we call the members of the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religio ...
On Monday 20th September 2021 at 9:35 am, I was on my way to work after having spent almost one and half hours on the northern bypass. As it comes to its completion, one of the most expensive roads Uganda has built is back to its old ways of endless traffic clogging.
The time in the jam, however, gave me chance to listen to the radio. At the particular time I mentioned, the presenter on Next radio announced how this is a special week because of his father’s passing 13 years ago. He then described the event and how he didn’t cry.
I write about it because at this time, I was crying. I was crying because my journey takes me from Kira-Najera-Bypass via the Uganda Orthodox Church then Mengo where I work.
My name is Allan Mugisha and I am an employee of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, an organisation that I have served for the last 15 years. I was crying because of the human pain that I have gone through as an individual, but also for the faith fraternity and our organisation for having lost our Lwangas in a space of just five months.
The Lwangas were not just Lwangas - they were what we call the members of the Council of Presidents of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda. Here has been their formidable line-up: His Grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga (RIP) Archbishop of Kampala; His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga (RIP) Archbishop of the Uganda Orthodox Church; His Eminence Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje Grand Mufti of Uganda; His Grace Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu Archbishop of the Church of Uganda; Pr. Dr. Daniel Matte Archbishop of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; Apostle Dr. Joseph Serwadda Presiding Apostle of the Born Again Faith in Uganda; and Bishop Joshua Lwere National Overseer of the Association of Pentecostal and Evangelicals in Uganda.
Now our Lwangas have gone. For us who work for IRCU, we have been very lucky to have them. The journalists will attest to this. IRCU has been their point of convergence, their Israel and Mecca where issues of national importance have been resolved. Where there was always agreement and unison when it comes to humanity.
A place where they have had prayer and prayed for us and the country. A place where they have brought hope, unison, and inter-religious dialogue. A place where we have been taught that we are Ugandans, Moslems or Christians and all bleed the same blood. A place where we have been taught and accepted that we are brothers and sisters.
A place where there has been peaceful hand-over of power. The Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga was the Chairperson of the Council of Presidents from 2009-2014 while His Grace Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Lwanga was slated to take over from 2021 after Grand Mufti Mubaje’s Kisanja.
At IRCU, we will forever miss His Grace Cyprian Lwanga for his wise counsel, his calmness to issues. He was an astute reader and writer. He was very instrumental in shaping the constitution IRCU, and yes, he always carried the Ugandan Constitution in his bag.
He would read it in meetings for everybody when there was an issue that seemed to contradict where the country was going. Archbishop Dr. Cyprian was gentle, rooted in his culture. In meetings, he would interact with us as if we were equals. Calling upon everybody to contribute. We pain, we mourn, we miss you.
You left an indelible mark in our hearts and those of all Ugandans. He who gave you to us took you for other missions. “We believe and we hope,” one man made a statement, “when you are born, you find people waiting for you - aunties, your mummy, your father and the whole clan. Who tells you that when you die, you will not find people waiting for you on the other side?”
For now, we will not see but shall forever remember Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga’s smile - he would smile then talk tough when putting across a point. He was straight and resolute. He was always proud of the Orthodox Church. He would always remind us in his office that it is the original Catholic Church and then makes a triple sign of the cross.
Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga was one of the founders of IRCU in 2001, together with His Eminence Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala, His Eminence Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje Grand Mufti of Uganda, and Archbishop Emeritus of Church of Uganda Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo (RIP). It is unfortunate that by the time of his demise, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga had been very active after having come from treatment for almost a year and looked strong. His death has been a shock to all us. From God we came, to Him we shall return.
The passing of the Lwanga’s offer good lessons to all of us, and our country in particular. Upon the demise of His Grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Rt. Rev. Paul Semogerere, Bishop of Kasana-Luwero Diocese was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of Kampala Archdiocese. Equally, His Eminence Makarios Tillyrides Archbishop of Nairobi and Exarch of All Kenya was appointed as Caretaker Archbishop of the Holy Metropolis of Kampala and All Uganda.
The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church continue to operate normally. This is the culture that our country should adopt, God gives us leaders, they come, they go for we are mortal beings. After the passing of the Metropolitan Archbishop, the Council of Presidents held a meeting at IRCU secretariat to pray, but also to discuss the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme. This is what the Lwangas would have wanted to see in their 50-year vision of Uganda that IRCU espouses – a prosperous nation, a healthy nation, a caring nation, a stable nation, and a harmonious nation.
Our father, our spiritual guardians, you are gone today but your legacies will leave on. Your spiritual presence will always motivate us to work for the common good. To my fellow staff at IRCU and its members, the time is neighed, let us make their vision a reality to all Ugandans.
The writer is from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda