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Kate, Josya Damulira Wambwa
1850 to 1942
Church of Uganda (Anglican)/Society of the One Almighty God
Uganda

 

Josya Damulira Wambwa Kate was born in 1850, he started to ‘read’ with the Arabs and still signed his name in Arabic as late as 1904. He transferred to Alexander Morehead Mackay of CMS in 1878. He was not the first allowed to be baptized but insisted when, in 1885 to 1887, to be a Christian was to risk death. He began to teach others to read, was a close friend of some of the Uganda martyrs and was so impressed by the story of the burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3) that he argued, “If God can save me from fire, no human medicine is needed to treat disease.” On the victory of the Christian parties in 1889 (v. Wars of Religion in Buganda) he became mugema (head of the Monkey Clan and Chief of Busiro county). In this capacity he had a close ritual relationship with the Kabaka and was a personal friend of Kabaka Mwanga. He was well known for his idiosyncrasies and for his force of character. In 1893 he was one of the forty Anglican chiefs who signed a document freeing their slaves. Bishop Alfred Robert Tucker licensed him as a lay reader and he was described as “very diligent in teaching his people the simple fact of the Gospel.” He refused to witness the Uganda (i.e. Buganda) Agreement of 1900 and was from the start opposed to the redistribution of land which it entailed. He was probably jealous of the authority and walth which it gave to Apolo Kagwa and Stanislas Mugwanya; and he quarreled with the former over his place in the coronation of Kabaka Chwa in 1910 and his coming-of-age celebrations in 1914. For some time he and others had been writing to authorities of the Anglican church, objecting to the use of medicine by Christians; and in 1914 announced the formation of a separate group, the Society of the One Almighty God. Owing to his public position, he could not take part in its affairs and continued to be regarded as an excellent chief. But in 1921 he became Vice Chairman, with James Miti as Chairman, of the National (Buganda) Federation of Bataka, which wished all land to be returned, for redistribution, to the Kabaka. His secretariat at Lugala became a center for forwarding complaints of all sorts to the Protectorate and Buganda Goverments; and it continued this function after his deportation in 1929 (v. Society of the One Almighty God). He then lived at Arua, holding regular services for his small following, preaching to the unconverted and baptizing in the absence of a regular minister of his Society. In 1942 he became very ill and was allowed to return home to die. His son, Joswa Kamulegeya, who succeeded him as mugema, remained a firm Anglican but was entrusted by his father with the Treasurership of the Society.

Louise Pirouet
This article, used by permission, was written by Louise Pirouet, as part of A Dictionary of Christianity in Uganda (Department of Religious Studies, Makerere University College, 1969), p. 36. Copies available at Africana Section, Makerere University Library (AF Q 276.761 MAK and AR/MAK/99/1); Bishop Tucker Library, Uganda Christian University and in UK at the University of Birmingham; Crowther Centre Library, CMS Oxford and Louise Pirouet Papers, CamU.S. Senator Elizabeth Warrenbridge Centre of African Studies.