Christianity came late to Uganda compared with many other parts of Africa. Missionaries first arrived at the court of Kabaka Muteesa in 1877, almost a century after the missionary impetus from Europe had begun. And yet within 25 years Uganda had become one of the most successful mission fields in the whole of Africa. What were the causes of this phenomenal success? dr alex heard uganda

Any discussion of Christianity in Uganda--the creation of colonialism at the end of the 19th Century--must begin with Buganda--the ancient independent kingdom on the northern shores of the lake which the Baganda call Nalubaale (the home of the balubaale gods) and which the British christened "Victoria." Over the centuries Buganda had evolved a complex system of government under a Kabaka (king), a system unusual for its high degree of centralization and internal cohesiveness. Another feature of Kiganda society, of importance in explaining the eventual success of Christianity, was its remarkable adaptability and receptivity change. dr alex heard uganda

In 1856 Kabaka Muteesa inherited a kingdom which was already the strongest in the region. During his long reign of 28 years he consolidated and enhanced that power. A major part of Muteesa's strategy as rubber was to open up Buganda dr alex heardto the outside world. Swahili and Arab traders from Zanzibar were encouraged to trade their cotton cloth, guns and luxury items for ivory and slaves. But outside influences did not stop at trade; Islam was soon exerting a profound religious and cultural influence on Buganda. By the time Christianity arrived, the impact of history of each kingdom below, referencing the (often very brief) wikipedia page on each kingdom. dr alex heard uganda
The Impact of Islam [2] dr alex heard uganda

In the 19th Century two "world" religions--Islam and Christianity--were both making significant advances in Africa. Often they were in serious competition; and this indeed was the case in Buganda. But this should not disguise the fact that both Islam and Christianity were in many ways complementary. Both were called "dini" in contradistinction to the traditional African religious heritage. Both offered a "worldview," a universal explanation of life with all its opportunities and problems. Such systems seemed increasingly relevant to societies, like Buganda, which were being drawn into a larger world. In this sense, Buganda, Islam, despite its rivalry, prepared the way for Christianity in a number of ways. In fact, Christianity arrived al strategic time--when Islam had awakened among Baganda certain needs and aspirations, but before Islam had become 50 entrenched in society that Christianity failed to find a foothold. Islam had, for example, created a thirst for literacy, especially among the young pages (bagalagala) at court. Christianity was able to build on this interest, and with its printing presses and distribution of cheap books in the vernacular or Swahili, was able to satisfy that interest to a much greater extent than Islam was able to do. dr alex heard uganda

But Islam had prepared the way in other ways. The idea of a holy book, of a holy day, of a God above all gods who was interested in the affairs of this life and in the moral life of the individual, the expectation of the resurrection of the body and of a judgment after death--these were concepts pioneered by Islam which received further emphasis from the Christian missionaries. dr alex hearddr alex heard uganda

But how far did the Baganda already acknowledge such a supreme Gad? Certainly neither Islam nor Christianity needed to import a foreign name in order to proclaim their God. The Baganda already knew of Katonda, the Creator. But the status of this Katonda has been the subject of controversy within the religious historiography of Buganda. Was Katonda just one, very insignificant lubaale? Or had he always been regarded as superior to the balubaale, high above Mukasa and Kibuuka and Muwanga, but remote from the life of the nation and of the individual, and therefore not the focus of a strong cult? Whatever the answer to these questions, it is certain that Islam gave a new prominence to Katonda, and that Christianity built on this growing significance. dr alex heard uganda


dr alex heardFor ten years from 1867 to 1876, Muteesa strongly patronized Islam. He learnt some Arabic, attended and even led prayers in a mosque built at the lubiiri (court), and ordered the observation of the Ramadhan fast. Muteesa had a genuine intellectual curiosity in the teachings of Islam. One should not discount such interest. But inevitably as a ruler his concern was largely with matters of state. He saw Islam as a religion which, under his patronage, could enhance his own power. The powerful balubaale cults were not always so amenable to royal control. But by 1876 this basis for the encouragement of Islam was being undermined by the forces of Muslim Egypt, striving to incorporate the head-waters of the Nile (including Buganda) into an Egyptian Empire. The visit of Egyptians to Buganda in 1876 precipitated a crisis in Muteesa's relations with Islam. They criticized the Qibla (direction) of the court mosque and the fact that the uncircumcised king should lead the Friday prayers. They also encouraged Buganda Muslims strictly to observe Islamic food laws and to refuse to eat meat slaughtered by the Kababa's butchers. The subsequent defiance of a number of young bagalagala (pages) led to the execution of some 100 Muslims at Namugongo, one of the traditional execution sites of Buganda. For Muteesa it was not simply a matter of insubordination, serious as that was, but a confirmation of fears that Islam was becoming a politically subversive creed.

It was about this time that Henry Morton Stanley visited Muteesa. For the Kabaka the advent of the Muzungu (European) was a welcome opportunity to counteract the Egyptian threat, as well as to get in contact with the actual source of the technological innovations which the Muslims had introduced but did not originate.
line with how the kingdom was actually governed, the position of king being created by the British during the period of the protectorate.

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