Christianity Comes to Uganda

Christianity Comes to Uganda

Christianity is now the dominant religion in Uganda, with around 85% of the population adhering to the faith. But Christianity is a rather recent import. The different tribes in what is now Uganda worshipped various pagan deities and ancestral spirits. They were not exposed to monotheistic religions until the Arabs traders came, followed a few decades later by European missionaries.

Protestant missionaries only came to Uganda in 1877, after an invitation from Kabaka (king) Mutesa I of Buganda was published in The Telegraph in England. The Kabaka appealed to Queen Victoria to send over missionaries to teach his people.

And the Church Missionary Society answered, by sending out a handful of Anglican missionaries, including Alexander Mackay, who introduced a printing press, which he used to print the Bible in Luganda, the local language of Buganda.

The Catholic order of the White Fathers followed the Church Missionary Society two years later, arriving in Buganda in 1879. The relationship between the two orders was factious as they both sought to gain converts from the Baganda, and their King, who, were he to convert would sway a large number of his subjects to also adopt his new religion.

Kabaka Mwanga did eventually convert to Catholicism, but only after he had been exiled. Catholicism is the predominant Christian religion of Ugandans today.

Missionaries built schools, hospitals and churches throughout the country as they spread the word of God. Anglican missionary Dr. Albert Cook set up Mengo hospital, Bishop Tucker established the Anglican Church mission in Mukono, where there is now a school, university and hospital. King’s College, Budo and Gyaza High school were also both built by Anglican converts.

The White Fathers built St Mary’s College Kisubi and Rubaga hospital, amongst others. They also educated the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka, the first black Bishop of Africa, who is buried at Rubaga Cathedral.