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Kitagana, Yohana
c. 1858 to 1938
Catholic
Uganda

 

Catholic catechist, born at Busi in Mawokota and a member of the Mwamba clan. When Christianity came to Buganda he felt comdemned for being polygamous, so moved to Koki and visited Ankole. Here he fell to comparing the poverty (or so it would have appeared to a Muganda) of Ankole with the riches of Mawokota, and to considering the numbers of prominent Baganda who were following the Christian religion. He decided to place himself under Christian instruction. Not all his wives agreed to accompany him; others left him later. He was baptized as a celibate in 1896 by Fr. Muller. After this he went to Mitala-Maria in Mawokota. During Holy Week 1901 he was deeply moved at the thought of the sacrifices made by missionaries in coming to Uganda, and offered to be sent as a catechist to any remote region where he could be used. With Fr. Laane and a group of other catechists he went to help open work at Hoima in Bunyoro. He set out with nothing but a sleeping-mat, stick and drinking-gourd, having given away all his possessions, and remained faithful to an ideal of evangelical poverty throughout his life. He worked among the Bachope (Jopaluo) in the north. At the end of the year he was recalled to Rubaga to attend the first regular course for catechists, and then went to Kasaka. In 1902 he was chosen to go to Mbarara, Ankole where a Catholic mission had just been opened (v. Mbarara, Diocese of). After a time there he went to Sheema, and in 1906 was sent to Bunyaruguru. Here he met hostility, but won the confidence of the people by simple medical treatment, and caring for orphans and destitute persons. Being a Muganda his life was endangered in 1908 during a rising of the people against the mis-government of some Baganda chiefs, but he remained calm, and brought it to the notice of his superiors that the people had good cause for their complaints. In 1910 a Catholic chief, Yohana Sabalijja, was sent to Mpororo, and Kitagana went to work in his area. In 1911 he accompanied Mgr. Streicher on a preliminary survey of Kigezi, but the establishment of a Catholic mission was delayed until 1923 by the War. In 1924 Kitagana and Auguste Kapere went to Bufumbiro and started work on the shores of L. Mutanda. Again he broke down initial opposition by medical treatment, patient visiting, and his transparent charity. In 1929 a permanent mission -- Mutolere -- was established by Fr. Nicolet. In 1930 old age forced him to a less active life, but he continued to be surrounded by orphans and others for whom he cared. For his services to the people of Kigezi he was invested by the Governor with the M.B.E.

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, Cambridge Centre of African Studies.