Course of the Religious Wars 

Course of the Religious Wars 

  • The first missionary group to come to Buganda was the CMS that arrived at kabaka Mutesa I’s palace in 1877.
  • In 1879, a catholic missionaries also arrived and joined the protestant missionaries (CMS)
  • Between 1879-80 the two groups started conflicting with each other especially their leaders i.e. Alexander Mackey of the protestants and father Loudel Simon of the Catholics.
  • In 1884, Mutesa 1 died and he was succeeded by his son Mwanga who was only 18 years old.
  • Meanwhile, Bishop Hannington came from the coast and he entered Buganda through Busoga. Mwanga ordered his men to arrest him and kill him and he was killed in 1885.
  • Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe who was by then a page at Mwanga’s palace criticized Mwanga for killing the Bishop.
  • The king responded by sentencing him to death and he was killed in November 1885.
  • In 1886, there occurred the massive killing of Christians at Namugongo who had disobeyed Mwanga’s orders of coming back to the traditional region.
  • These became the Uganda Martyrs and they were real Christians because they were singing hymns as they were going to be killed, preached to their persecutors and strongly believed in life after death.
  • The killing of the Uganda martyrs made the Christians to realize that they need protection from their home government to safe guard the future of Christianity in Buganda.

Mwanga then started making peace with those religions and this gave a chance to the three religious groups to get arms and organized themselves into military groups.

By 1888, the missionaries had well armed themselves and Mwanga got scared of the military strength.

  • In April 1888, the united forces of the new religions attempted a coup against Mwanga.
  • Mwanga fled from the catholic to coast south of lake in Sukuma land in order to safe guard himself.
  • The united forces of the new religions divided themselves after the running away of Mwanga because they failed to agree on who should take over power.
  • The Muslims who were powerful in terms of number and arms over powered the Christians who also fled to kabula on the borderwith Ankole.
  • The Muslims enthroned Kiwewa as a Muslim king who refused to be circumcised. It is reported that he was killed and he was replaced by Kalema who embracedIslam.
  • The Muslims therefore started Islamizing all people in Buganda and they did this by harassing the Christians through killing them, destroying churches and burning Bibles.
  • Such events made Catholics and protestants to unite and come back to fight the Muslims.
  • They fought and defeated the Muslims and brought back Mwanga as a king of Buganda in 1890.
  • The unity between Catholics and Protestants was short lived as the two groups started fighting and quarreling for political offices where many had been given to the Catholics.
  • The Protestants were helped by CaptainFredrik Lugard to fight the Catholics and this resulted into the religious wars between 1890-92 which was ended with the defeat of the Catholics.
  • The climax of these wars on the 24th Jan 1892 at the battle at Mengo when the two groups conflicted each other and the protestants won the battle
  • After one month a true (an agreement) was signed where the Protestants under IBECO was recognized as the leaders of Buganda.
  • After the agreement, the protestants on several occasions convinced the British government to take over Uganda and this came to pass in 1894 when the British remained in Buganda their protectorate
  • In 1897, there was an attempt by kabaka Mwanga to regain his independence but he was defeated. He was removed from power and exiled Seychelles Islands
  • In 1900 the Buganda agreement was signed and it consolidated British rule over Buganda and established a special relationship between the British and Buganda under a new king called Daudi Chw a and his prime minster Sir Apollo Kagwa

Qn. Describe the course of the religious wars in Buganda between 1877-1900 (25 marks)

Effects of the Religious Wars In Buganda In General

The wars had both positive and negative effects on the general social, political and economic life of people as shown below.

Positive effects

  • The wars led to the end of absolute rule in Buganda because they brought in use of constitutional leadership by the king.
  • The wars led to the recognition of the existence of Christianity in Buganda hence leading to its rapid spread in the religion.
  • Conflicts led to competition for converts among the different foreign religions something that made them provide social services to Ugandans in order to convert them.
  • During the wars, Catholics and protestants united and this has given way to the current ecumenical movement among different Christians groups to day

Negative effects 

  • Many people lost their lives during the wars and it’s estimated that around 200 of them died.
  • They also led to destruction of property characterized by burning of churches, Bibles, Christian homes etc.
  • The wars led to imprisonment of people without trial as each religious group wanted to dominate the other.
  • The wars led to political instability in Buganda which led many people to leave Buganda in order to safe guard their lives
  • The conflicts led to division of Buganda on religious lines e.g. one county was for Muslims, 8counties were for Catholics and 11 counties were for protestants
  • Conflicts caused family and clan disintegration and disagreement because people in the same  clan and family belonged to different religions
  • Religious wars led to exilesion of people to far places in order to bring order in Buganda e.g.kabaka Mwanga was exile to Sychelles Island.
  • The wars led to the spread of foreign religions in Buganda and this led to the end of some traditional practices like that were still going on in Buganda e.g.polygamy, shrines, worshiping of small gods etc. Ø The conflicts interfered the rapid spread of Christianity in Buganda as many people feared to join Christianity until the wars were over.
  • Religious wars laid a plat form for the loss of Buganda’s independence as the Protestants called upon the British government to come and take over Uganda after winning the wars.
  • The wars disorganized Buganda’s political, traditional order of monarchism because kings were now being enthroned by the different religious groups
  • The wars led to British declaration of the protectorate over the rest f Buganda in 1894 after being advocated for by missionaries.
  • The wars led to the signing of 1900 Buganda agreement which the powers of kabaka and intensified the British control over Buganda.

Qn. Assess/examine the impact of religious wars in Buganda and Uganda at large.

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