“Tukutendereza Yesu” The Balokole Revival in Uganda

Kevin Ward


For over a century the Balokole Revival has had a deep impact on many of the Protestant Churches of Eastern Africa, invigorating and renewing their life and offering to individuals the challenge of a deeper experience of salvation in Christ and a more radical commitment to Christian discipleship. In many respects the East African Revival falls within the pattern of Evangelical Awakenings which have been a feature of European and American Protestantism since the 18th Century. The influence of the British Keswick movement on the Revival in East Africa is to be particularly noted in this context. Nevertheless, the Revival has been the means by which the Christian Gospel has become incarnated more deeply and radically into African patterns of thinking and action, a genuinely African expression of Christianity. [1]

The origins of the Revival lie in the life of the Anglican Church of Uganda, and particularly the situation in Buganda. “Balokole” is a Luganda word meaning “The Saved People”, a nickname given at first by the detractors of the new movement, but which well expresses the basic theological emphasis - the experience of receiving salvation in Jesus Christ. Those who claim this experience prefer to be known simply as “Ab’oluganda” - Brethren and Sisters. But the term Balokole is widely accepted as a convenient designation for the, movement and is so used far beyond Buganda itself. Similarly, the Luganda chorus Tukutendereza Yesu (We Praise You Jesus) has become the theme song of Revivalists throughout East Africa.

Thus, although the first manifestations of a large-scale revival occurred at Gahini in Rwanda at the end of 1933, the seeds of that revival must be traced back to their origin in Buganda. The Church Missionary Society mission hospital at Gabini was an outpost of the Anglican diocese of Uganda, on the frontiers of the cultural and religious influence of the Ugandan Church. Most of the hospital staff at Gahini and most of the leaders of the awakening were Baganda or from the western parts of Uganda. [2]

The Native Anglican Church of Uganda was outwardly one of the most successful in the history of missions in Africa. But by the 1920’s serious weaknesses in the development of the Church, particularly in its heartland of Buganda, could be discerned. Despite the Pilkington Revival of the 1890s, and indeed partly because of the very success of that Revival in giving the impetus for the wide diffusion of the Gospel, Anglican Christianity had grown in terms of numbers and prestige, but at the expense of real faith and genuine commitment to a distinctive Christian life. This, at least, is how many CMS missionaries assessed what they considered to be a deep malaise in the life of the Church. But the most trenchant critics of the “Laodicean State of the Church of Uganda” [3] came from the Ruanda Mission of CMS, which operated as a separate entity within the Anglican diocese of Uganda - in Kigezi, in South-West Uganda, and in the Belgian mandate territory of Ruanda-Urundi. The Ruanda Mission had come into being in the early 1920s as an attempt to remain loyal to CMS and yet to stand for a distinctively conservative evangelical point of view at a time when CMS was being assailed by disputes over “modernism” or liberal theology. The role of the Ruanda Mission as a kind of self-appointed guardian of evangelical orthodoxy and critic of the state of the church in Uganda was not always appreciated, particularly by CMS missionaries in Uganda itself, who rather resented the implication that they were not fully committed to the need for reform. The growing alliance between the Ruanda Mission and the movement for spiritual renewal within the Church in Uganda was to cause some problems for the acceptance of the Revival by the Church in its early days.” [4]

Simeoni Nsibambi and his circle

Serious-minded Baganda, as much as missionaries, were exercised by the problems of the Church. One such was Simeoni Nsibambi, in many ways the father of the whole Balokole movement. Nsibambi was a member of the Protestant elite whose dominant position in Kiganda society had been assured by the 1900 Agreement. The son of an important chief, the Ssenkanzi of Busiro, he went to the top CMS schools of Mengo and Budo and, after military service during the First World War, he became a clerk in the Kabaka’s administration. His early career was parallel in many ways to that of another critic of the Anglican establishment - Reuben Mukasa Spartas. But, whereas Spartas’ criticisms led him to form his own rival Church, Nsibambi remained loyal to the Anglican Church. It is not insignificant that Spartas came from a lower social stratum than Nsibambi and was a persistent critic of the Protestant elite to which Nsibambi belonged. [5]

In the early 1920s Nsibambi’s life had been set on a new course by a significant religious experience. Disappointed that he had not got a scholarship to study abroad, he was assured in a vision from God that such earthly things were not the most important things in life; rather to receive eternal salvation was the pearl of great price. In the light of this experience, Nsibambi began to devote himself increasingly to preaching this message of repentance and salvation. He abandoned his job to become d full-time (self-appointed) preacher who became a familiar figure dressed in kanzu and sandals addressing the worshippers outside Namirembe cathedral (his home was nearby). Nsibambi was also a neighbor of Mable Ensor, that outspoken critic of the Church of Uganda. He attended her fellowship at Mengo but was never willing to identify himself totally with her sectarian coterie. It was, rather, a partnership with another missionary which was to prove so decisive in the development of the Revival. This was the meeting in 1929 with a young missionary doctor, Dr. Joe Church, working with the Ruanda Mission at Gahini. Dr. Church was taking a much-needed rest at Namirembe. After two years work in Ruanda, he was keenly feeling the pressures of over-work and spiritual dryness. His experience closely parallels that of Pilkington some 50 years earlier - a naive evangelical enthusiasm strained by the realities of missionary work leading to a severe spiritual depression, followed by a liberating experience of renewal and the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Church’s “Kome island” [6] occurred at Namirembe during a time of fellowship, bible study and prayer with Nsibambi. Church went back to Gahini with a new heart and a new spirit. He kept up close contacts with Nsibambi, who began to send some of his “disciples” to work with Dr. Church at Gahini. [7]

One disciple was Nsibambi’s own younger brother, Blasio Kigozi. Converted in his youth by Nsibambi, Kigozi expressed a burning desire to follow in the footsteps of the pioneer Muganda evangelist, Apolo Kivebulaya (still alive and working in Mboga at this time). Kigozi trained as a school master at Mukono (the college at this time combined a teacher training section with theological training). After graduating in 1929 he went out to Gahini to take charge of the school network there. He soon got a reputation as an uncompromising preacher of the Gospel, denouncing sin wherever he found it. The chief medical assistant at Gahini was a Muhima called Yosiya Kinuka, from the pastoralists of Ankole in western Uganda. He had at first somewhat negative feelings towards this stern, unbending, preacher, but by 1931 he had, been converted. He became a strong ally of Blasio in his forceful evangelism. In 1932 Blasio himself returned to Bishop Tucker College, Mukono, for a special ordination course in English. He came back to Gahini as, a deacon. [8]

Kigozi’s, passionate intensity, had in no way diminished by his becoming a clergyman. His renewed zeal irritated those who resisted the implications of his message, especially among the relatively sophisticated Ugandans working at the hospital or in the schools at Gahini. But it was among this group that the first breakthrough occurred, at a convention organized during Christmas and New Year 1933/4. As Kigozi preached; many repented. The fires of revival, set a light within the mission station, began to reach out into the hill communities of Batutsi pastoralists around. The revivalists were named Abaka (meaning “those on fire” in Kinyarwanda). Many of the features particularly associated with the revival were manifested in these early days - the emphasis on repentance through open confession, the breaking down of barriers of race, tribe or clan, the use of “teams” of evangelists, the awareness of a new equality between European and African. [9]

The Revival returns to Uganda

In 1935 Kigozi, Kinuka and Joe Church led a team to a convention in Kabale. Nsibambi joined them from Kampala. Kabale had been evangelized by the Ruanda Mission of CMS; but it was in the Kigezi district of South West Uganda. The 1935 Convention marked the first large-scale impact of the Revival on Uganda. Lawrence Barham, a clergyman of the Ruanda Mission in Kabale, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Revival, described the convention in these terms: “Confession of sin, restitutions, apologies followed; many had dreams, sometimes receiving strong impressions to read certain verses of the Bible which led them to put away some sin, beer drinking for example. Preaching bands have gone out all through the district and very many are stirred. There is naturally a good deal of opposition and a certain amount of persecution.” [10]

Fired by the success of this convention in September 1935, Kigozi journeyed at the end of the year to Kampala to attend the Synod of the Native Anglican Church. Though still a deacon he made a passionate speech urging the “sleeping” Church in Uganda to shake off its apathy and “Awake”–_Zukuka_! A few days later he suddenly and unexpectedly died of relapsing fever. The word Zukuka was engraved on his tombstone in the grounds of Namirembe Cathedral. Naturally his death was a great shock and his speech to the Synod came to be regarded as prophetic; Kigozi was the John the Baptist of the Revival. [11]

Bishop Stuart, Bishop of Uganda since 1934, had a warm sympathy for what had been happening in Gahini and Kigezi. He had trained Kigozi as a deacon and shared his concern to bring the fruits of the awakening back into the centre of the Church of Uganda. He hoped that the celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of the church in 1937 would be the occasion for a general renewal of the Church. In pursuit of this aim he organized a series of evangelistic missions to take place in every parish as a climax to the celebrations. In preparation for this, Stuart invited Joe Church to bring a team, from Ruanda to hold a mission at Bishop Tucker College late in 1936. Many of the students were to be sent out to participate in the parish missions in 1937. The result was not happy. The Warden of the college, J .S. Herbert (whom the Bishop had already appointed as coordinator of the Jubilee missions) felt that he had not been properly consulted about the Mukono mission. He was a veteran missionary who had first come to the country in 1904, and he did not appreciate the strident enthusiasm of the young Baganda and Ruanda missionaries, most of them laymen, especially when they openly challenged him about his pipe smoking! He felt that the emphasis of the preachers on the book of Jesus was unhealthy, a kind of new fetish - he used the Luganda word nsiriba. [12] His theological tutor, John Jones, was also distressed by the mission. He had already come under fire from Mabel Ensor for his supposed liberal theological views (she had directed a defamatory tract against him provocatively entitled “Wolves are Out Tonight”!) Jones had a temperamental aversion to all excessive enthusiasm in religion, springing from his own experiences in the Welsh Revival at the beginning of the century. Despite the coolness of the college authorities, the mission did succeed in influencing some of the ordinands and student teachers - some of whom would be back at Mukono in 1941 when the most serious crisis in Balokole-Church relations broke out. [13]

The Mukono Crisis of 1941 [14]

Although the Jubilee missions of 1937 did not produce the large scale awakening that many were hoping for, Bishop Stuart persisted in encouraging the “Ruanda” Revivalists. In particular he wanted to encourage some of the young educated people to follow in Kigozi’s footsteps and train for the ministry at Mukono. The Bishop hoped by this means to regenerate the clerical profession both spiritually and academically. In 1940 he sent to Mukono a number of Budo graduates, and others, teachers and medical assistants who had a high level of education - men like Eliezar Mugimba of Ankole, Yowasi Musajjakaawa and John Musoke of Buganda and Erisa Wakabi of Busoga. The man who quickly emerged as the leader of this group was a 28-year-old Muganda working at Gahini, William Nagenda. He was the brother-in law of both Nsibambi and the late Kigozi and he had inherited the mantle of Kigozi as leader of revival at Gahini. Nagenda, like Nsibambi, came from a high status family in Buganda. His father, Festo Mnyangenda, had been one of the Regents during the minority of Kabaka Cwa, and he was an important landowner. Nagenda went to Budo and became a clerk in the Protectorate government at Entebbe. Dismissed for financial irregularities, he underwent a moral crisis and, under Nsibambi’s influence was converted in 1936. He went off to work at Gahini, where he soon became an indispensable companion to Joe Church on his evangelistic safaris, travelling not only around Uganda, but also as far as Nairobi and the southern Sudan. Totally at ease in the company of Europeans, fluent in English, sophisticated and with a boundless self-confidence, he did not fit easily into the usual type of Mukono ordinand, described by one missionary rather unkindly as “dull and heavy and beyond the stage when they can respond to intelligent teaching”! [15]

Nagenda soon became the acknowledged leader of a small, tightly-knit group of saved people, numbering about 40 (perhaps a third of the theological students). They met early in the mornings for prayer and fellowship and conducted an aggressive campaign against the evils of sin, theft and immorality, which they discovered in the college. They also lead a militant stance against the Warden’s liberal theological teaching (by this time Jones was the Warden). They challenged him on these issues during his lesson in what Jones considered to be a disruptive way. Jones felt threatened by these attacks, not least because they were backed up by a young CMS missionary called Bill Butler whom the Bishop had posted to Mukono after hastily ordaining him deacon. Butler was also conducting a parallel campaign against the ‘ritualistic” elements in the Warden’s conduct of worship (the wearing of liturgical stoles, bowing at the name of Jesus in the Creed etc). The student body was also antagonized by the constant accusations that they were sinners. Things came to a head in October 1941 when disputes within the college reached such a pitch that the Warden issued an authoritarian set of regulations forbidding the early morning meetings of the Revivalists, and their daily preachings against other members of the community. The Balokole saw these regulations as an attempt to stamp out the Revival. They believed this was an issue on which they could not compromise; they must obey Gad rather than man. A total of 30 people refused to accept the Warden’s regulations. After refusing to apologize they were dismissed. They included the chaplain of the college, a Muganda clergyman called Benoni Kagwa, twenty-three theological students, three wives, and three trainee primary school teachers. They were dubbed bajeemu–rebels. Half of them were from Buganda, with significant numbers also from Bunyoro, Ankole and Busoga. [16]

It was recognized that the Church of Uganda had lost some of its brightest and most committed ordinands. At least one missionary had talked of Nagenda as a potential Bishop. The “rebels” hoped that Bishop Stuart (who had been out of the country when the crisis broke) would support them and enable them to return with dignity and finish their studies - some, inc1uding Nagenda, were within a month of finishing their course and being ordained as deacons. But Bishop Stuart felt that it was necessary to support Jones, and he wrote to the rebels strongly urging them to repent and to “obey their bakulu (elders).” It was a simple matter of obedience –they should not pretend that they were suffering for the sake of the Gospel. [17]

The Bishop underestimated the deep feelings aroused among the Balokole. His hope that they would relent received further setback from the support which the rebels received from their European friends. Lea Wilson was a tea planter at Namutamba, in the Ssingo county of Buganda. He was a personal friend of Joe Church, a supporter of the Ruanda Mission theological position, and a keen promoter of the Revival. He offered refuge and employment to a number of the rebels. Namutamba became a base for William Nagenda. Nagenda became convinced that God was calling him to a ministry as a free evangelist without the constraints of being an ordained minister. He never, wavered in this conviction. In this he was following the pattern pioneered by his mentor Nsibambi, who had given up a paid job to be an evangelist.

The other event which sabotaged Bishop Stuart’s aim of getting the rebels to repent and return was the strong support given to the rebels by a group of Ugandan and Missionary Balokole meeting at Kabale in December 1941. Nagenda was himself present at this meeting, which issued a strongly worded Memorandum in support of the stand of the Balokole at Mukono: “We are unanimously convinced that the “Mukono incident” was unwisely handled and that the students were not in any true sense “rebels”. They were technically guilty of disobedience to the Warden’s authority; but the issues at stake were far more important than any technicalities of College discipline and they were therefore justified in their refusing to obey.”

The Memorandum went on to say that “modernism” and “ritualism” (in Luganda bulombolombo) were at the heart of the dispute: “For the Modernist view minimizes sin, and the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross, and mocks at the ideal of separation from the world to a holy and victorious life. [18]”

This uncompromising statement seriously aggravated the crisis in Bishop Stuart’s view, converting a little local difficulty into a major crisis in the life of the Church. The speedy printing and circulation of the Memorandum (at Lea Wilson’s instigation) jeopardized the Bishop’s attempts to mediate. For, if the Revivalists were adopting such an uncompromising stand, the Bishop was also hard pressed by the opponents of revival, who wanted him to take radical measures to curb the excesses and discipline the rebels. The Church was in serious danger of pushing out the Revival and in creating a sectarian revival movement outside the Church.

The Opposition to Revival in the Church

It is worth pausing to examine the forces ranged in opposition to Nagenda and his colleagues, and to the whole manifestation of revival as it had began at Gahini. The Ugandan clergy were a formidable group opposed to the young enthusiasts for revival. One of the consistent themes of the early Balokole was their opposition to what they called obukulu in the Church. Bakulu is Luganda for “elders”, those in authority; Obukulu is a hierarchical system of authority, in itself a neutral concept not implying any moral judgment on the value of such a system. But for the Balokole obukulu had come to represent an authoritarianism in Church life, a wholly negative critique of the clergy, who clung to the trappings of prestige and respect and power which their status gave them. At the Synod in December 1941 they were insistent on a tough and uncompromising stand against the Mukono rebels and the Balokole in general. Conversely, the few Balokole clergy in Buganda (Disan Mukasa, Nagenda’s elder brother, and Besweri Galiwango) were having severe problems with their congregations, who resented their attacks on many aspects of traditional Kiganda culture. Incidentally this issue of the relationship between Christianity and traditional culture was receiving particular prominence in 1941 due to the re-marriage, against all precedent, of the Namasole (the Queen Mother) - as it happens to a young schoolmaster who had been training at Mukono, and who was subsequently to become a strong Mulokole. The Bishop and the leaders of the Church of Uganda were unpopular for sanctioning the marriage. On this issue the Balokole were whole-heartedly in support of the church authorities, but this only served to increase the hostility against the Balokole on the part of many Baganda. [19]

If the Bakulu of the church, the clergy, were deeply suspicious of the Balokole, the Bakulu in society at large, the chiefs, were equally hostile. Here again generational and educational differences between the old elite and the rising generation of well-educated Balokole leaders may have exacerbated suspicions. In Ankole, a Mulokole clergyman, Erika Sabiiti, educated at Budo, was finding himself in conflict with his own brother, Chief Katungi, who accused Sabiiti of encouraging people to disobey the authorities and to defile venerable Kihima traditions (by, for example, encouraging women to eat chickens). [20] In North Kigezi Chief Karugyesa (the uncle of Festo Kivengere, a future leader of the Revival) was arresting Balokole in his area and sending them to gaol in Kabale. [21] The fear that the Balokole were a potentially subversive force was shared by the colonial government – in this case they were worried by the threat to social order which an incipient mass-movement like the Revival posed. In Kigezi the British administration had vivid memories of the Nyabingi cult–a traditional spirit-possession movement with strong political overtones which had fueled resistance to British rule until the 1920s. [22] The British feared a revival of this kind of agitation under a new guise, especially when the Balokole began a campaign of burning sorghum fields, a crop used for brewing beer but which happened to provide a source of cash for Bakiga to pay their government poll-tax! [23] 1939-45 were war years, and the British recalled the rise of the Bamalaki religious movement during the First World War, and its opposition to the war effort. European Balokole leaders complained of censorship of their mail during this time.

The Revival also divided the missionary community. Most of the CMS missionaries in Uganda, while longing for some kind of revival in the church of Uganda, were opposed to the particular manifestation of revival among the Balokole. They resented the anti-clericalism of Dr. Church and the Ruanda Mission, regarding their criticisms of CMS and the Ugandan Church as arrogant and insensitive. But even within the Ruanda Mission itself, the actual experience of revival was proving controversial. The radical egalitarianism and untrammeled freedom of the Balokole were difficult for many missionaries to accept. The hostility of some Balokole missionaries to the compromises involved in being Anglican, even questioning whether the Ruanda Mission should become a non-denominational mission, caused problems with Bishop Stuart, with non- Balokole missionaries in the field, and with the Ruanda Council in London. In the early 1940s these conflicts at times seemed to threaten the cohesion of the Ruanda Mission. [24]

The Search for a ‘modus vivendi’

Amidst all the dangers of schism, Bishop Stuart was determined to work for compromise and harmonious relations between the Church and the Revival. He fully supported Jones and the college authorities and a Commission of Enquiry which reported in 1943 vindicated the measures taken by the Warden and his theological approach. This in turn provoked a minority report by Lawrence Barham (who had been a member of the Commission) defending the original-stand of the rebels and again drawing attention to the unacceptable modernism and ritualism of Jones. [25] But the Bishop hoped to get beyond a repetition of these sterile conflicts and in 1943 he issued a compromise formula which he entitled The New Way, [26] a fourteen point program, or guidelines for a harmonious working relationship between the Church and the Balokole. At first the inauguration of the program served rather to fuel the old disputes, with Ugandan Balokole like Nagenda and Sabiiti unable to accept the terms of the cease fire and seeing it as yet another attempt to destroy the distinctive message of the Balokole. But Stuart was able, slowly and painfully to convince the Balokole of the Ruanda Mission of his good intentions, and to encourage them to search actively for peace. And even the Ugandan Balokole, suspicious as they were of any sell-out, had no real inclination to form schismatic Church. As Sabiiti wrote in 1943: “The people, of the Church of Uganda do love their Church much, and wouldn’t listen to anyone who was supposed to be trying to leave the church, and we feel that the message that God has given us was for the whole Church of Uganda - the message of living the victorious life through the Cross of Christ…The people of the Church of Uganda have seen those who failed to reform the Church of Uganda by leaving it, and they would be afraid of us if they supposed that we were trying to form a new Church.” [27]

This sense of having a mission from God to the whole Church, of being a critical witness from within the Church, is a dominant theme throughout the history of the Balokole movement. The fact that so many of the leaders - Nsibambi, Nagenda, Sabiiti himself, later Kivengere, came from the ruling elite of society, and identified with that elite even when critical of it, and with the Anglican church establishment, is one important reason why the Balokole in Uganda did not form their own Church. Another factor is the close collaboration with the Ruanda Mission, which despite its criticisms of Anglicanism, always in the end remained loyal to the Church. The distinctive theology of the Ruanda Mission – a conservative evangelicalism which owed much to the Keswick movement – became, in a subtly transmuted form which will be examined later, basic to the Balokole also. The Balokole have shown little inclination in Uganda towards an independent African form of Christianity divorced from its roots in classical evangelicalism.

As a result both of the active sympathy and moderation of the Bishop and the nature of the Balokole movement itself, by the end of the 1940s Church and Revival had weathered the storm and were set for a period of fruitful partnership. The 1949 Kako Convention [28] can be seen as a decisive point in the growing acceptability of the Revival and its acceptance into the main stream of the life of the Church. It is significant that of the Mukono rebels, all have remained Anglican. Eight of the twenty-three who were studying for ordination in 1941 did eventually get ordained (some as late as the 1970s). Some have become archdeacons and canons–in fact venerable bakulu of the Church. But none has become a bishop. Nagenda, who might well have become a Bishop, never did get ordained. But despite his charismatic personality which could undoubtedly have become the focus for a new church, he remained to the end a member of the Church of Uganda. [29]

The Spread and Impact of the Revival

In considering the spread of the Revival it is necessary to distinguish the differing impact it has made in different parts of Uganda. One can broadly distinguish three types: In Western Uganda the Revival has become the dominant expression of Anglican Christianity, permeating the life of the Church to such an extent that it is difficult to distinguish Revival and Church from each other.

In Buganda the Revival, challenging an already entrenched Church structure (which although shaped by a broad Evangelical tradition has developed in a different environment from that of the Balokole), has made a deep impact on many Christians as individuals but has not permeated the Church structures to the same extent as in the west of Uganda.

In Northern Uganda the situation is complex. In many parts Revival has had only a marginal impact and has adopted an aggressive stance of opposition to the Church as an institution. Yet, in this area the Revival has produced two archbishops of the Church of Uganda; and the vitality of Christianity in the West Nile owes much to the Revival.

It is important to examine each of these areas in more detail.

The Revival in Western Uganda

In Kigezi the Revival arrived at a time when Christianity was still in its infancy. Kigezi was one of the last areas of Uganda fully to accept colonial rule, and the administration had some fears that the Balokole might be a revival in a new guise of the Nyabingi spirit-possession cult which had mobilized religious opposition to colonial rule earlier in the century. It might; however, be argued that the Revival came at a strategic time, when the political defeat of the Nyabingi cult (by the late 1920s) had led to a cultural vacuum and a hunger for a new form of religious expression to cope with the new situation. Balokole themselves would strongly deny any real similarities between Revival and Nyabingi. What the Revival did was to offer a dramatic and yet swift means of incorporation into the new religion of Christianity. The long process of education, the traditional means of incorporation, could come later; the Revival offered an immediate opportunity of identifying oneself with the new way of life. Hence the Revival in Kigezi took on the character of a mass movement from “paganism”. The initial apprehension of some of the Ruanda missionaries about the Revival rapidly gave way to a universal acceptance; and the Muganda clergyman in Kabale, Ezikeri Balaba, was an early convert. This ensured that a person who wished to train for the ministry of the Church must be a saved man–and thus the Church as an organization became permeated with the Balokole ethos. The fact that Revival and Church became so closely identified has stamped a strong puritanism and evangelical theology on the Church in Kigezi; it has also prevented the Balokole from becoming a small inward-looking sect and has given the Revival in Western Uganda a relative openness to the World.

Among the Bahima pastoralists of Ankole there was a similar incorporation into Christianity associated with the Revival. Since the introduction of Anglican Christianity into Ankole at the beginning of the century, the Bahima had nominally identified themselves with the religion of the Mugabe” (the ruler of Ankole). But Christianity had penetrated only superficially into the life of the kraal. In the 1940s and 50s the evangelistic zeal of the Balokole began to transform this situation. The mobility of Balokole in travelling round from kraal to kraal holding evangelistic meetings and fellowships seemed well adapted to the dynamics of pastoral life and to traditions of giving and receiving hospitality. The anthropologist Stenning has also noted similarities between initiation into the traditional Bacwezi(kubandwa–spirit possession) cults and the experience of being saved – especially in the area of open confession of sins, often of a shameful nature which would not normally be talked about. While such parallels are interesting to the student of religion, Balokole would naturally wish to distance themselves from such comparisons. [30]

Ankole was part of CMS rather than Ruanda Mission territory. Yet the linguistic and cultural links between the agricultural Banyankore majority and the Bakiga, along with the impact of the Revival among the Bahima minority, have tended to create within the Anglican Church in Ankole a situation similar to that pertaining in Kigezi.

The Revival in Buganda

Despite the origins of the Revival in Buganda, the Balokole have never been able to assume the leadership of the Church as a whole in Buganda, as has happened in western Uganda. In Buganda the Anglican Church was already well established with its own traditions, with a vigorous indigenous clergy jealous of its status and rights, and an articulate laity. Many Baganda resented the iconoclasm of the Balokole, their attack on deeply held Kiganda traditions and practices. The Balokole upset the informal accommodation between Kiganda culture and Christianity which had gradually grown up. The Balokole denounced the continuance of traditional religious practices by Christians and they accused the Church of turning a blind eye to this. They refused to have anything to do with such rituals as those connected with the birth of twins, or with the last funeral rites (Okwabya Olumbe), both of which Balokole felt involved immoral practices. [31] As a result there has tended to be a suspicion of Balokole on the part of ordinary Baganda Christians, and a resistance to Balokole ideals becoming normative in the Church. Nevertheless many individual Baganda have been deeply influenced by the Balokole; and increasingly from the 1950s more and more Baganda Balokole trained for the ministry of the Church. But, unlike western Uganda, it has never been essential to be “saved” (in the Revival sense) in order to get accepted as an ordinand.

If the Revival has been an important but not a normative element in the Church in Buganda, the Baganda leadership has continued to be normative for the development of the Balokole movement in Uganda as a whole. Although the Balokole have always resisted taking on a bureaucratic organizational structure, priding themselves on their openness to the Spirit, there has nevertheless developed a quite tightly-knit informal structure of authority based on senior brethren (ab’oluganda), who often received the honorary title of Taata (Father). Each district has a number of such senior brethren, and the mobility of brethren in travelling around to attend weekly or monthly fellowship meetings or larger scale conventions means that the senior brethren have many opportunities for meeting each other and discussing the development of the movement. Thus an informal network of authority established itself, and this has enabled the leadership to exert a fairly tight control- sometimes even to the extent of causing feelings of excessive authoritarianism, friction and schism within the Revival. The Revival has always existed with a certain amount of tension between the desire for cohesion and solidarity and resentment, especially from strong personalities of an undue exercise of authority by even more dominant senior brethren. [32]

Kampala has always held a key place in this network of authority based on fellowship meetings. From the beginning Nsibambi and Nagenda were the dominant personalities, at the center. An early instance of the dangers of allowing too much freedom to individual fellowships arose in the late 1930s on Nsibambi’s own land at Buloba (not far from Kampala). There a small group of people became convinced that, having been saved, they were no longer subject to sexual desires and could demonstrate their new freedom by walking about naked during fellowship meetings and sleeping side by side with a member of the opposite sex without falling into sin. This type of extremism, which would soon have discredited the whole movement, was soon stamped out by Nsibambi. [33]

The “nakedness stunt” was a somewhat extreme example of a wider feeling within the Revival at this period that a saved person should be in a position to overcome the temptations of the flesh. The idea was current that one should be able “to kill the old man (Omuntu Owedda)”. In reality saved people were only too well aware of the continuing power of sin in their own lives. This led Nsibambi and Nagenda to seek some experience which would enable them to overcome this problem. In 1944 while on a retreat in Toro, they achieved the experience they so earnestly desired. They returned claiming to have conquered the Old Man. Back at Namutamba, Nagenda urged others to seek this experience. But for Nagenda the new doctrine produced increasing strain as he tried to cope with the burdensome necessity of continuing to proclaim his complete victory over sin and his awareness of the reality of his need daily to fight temptation. Soon he began to see that the whole experience had been a delusion. He made open confession to the brethren and turned his back resolutely against any search for a “second blessing” to add to the only important blessing of being saved by the blood of Christ. This whole incident was a decisive one for the development of Balokole theology. All Christian experience after being saved was a continual returning to the Cross in brokenness and confession. Any attempt to get beyond this, onto some higher level of Christian experience, was denounced as “striving”–_Okufuba_. [34]

This emphasis led to a decisive reorientation of Balokole thinking away from the second-blessing type of theology of the Keswick movement, out of which the Balokole grew, and which was very much an emphasis of Joe Church’s presentation of the gospel. It led to criticisms of what were in many respects sympathetic movements among Europeans in East Africa – for example the Oxford Group (later known as Moral Rearmament),with which the Balokole had at first shared many common concerns; or Pentecostalist ideas which some of the Ruanda missionaries were imbibing from other Protestant missionaries working in Ruanda-Urundi.

More significant was the fact was that the opposition to Okufuba (striving) became the touchstone for orthodoxy among the Ugandan brethren, and the focus for a series of conflicts, which were also bound up with the personal authority of the leadership, particularly of William Nagenda. The first conflict of this type was with a Muganda medical doctor, Eliya Lubulwa. He had shared with Nagenda the anguish of the Old Man episode, but he then quarreled with Nagenda over Nagenda’s insistence on continual repentance, in particular of those sins committed before conversion: a Christian ought to progress beyond these things. Nagenda interpreted this as an attempt to get beyond the brokenness of the Cross, to re-introduce Old Man doctrines and striving by the back door. Many detected behind Lubulwa’s criticisms a personal animosity against Nagenda, a jealousy of Nagenda’s growing international career as an evangelist. Lubulwa also developed an aggressive technique of evangelism using megaphones, which could be used to disrupt church services. This was felt to be out of place in the growing climate of co-existence between the Church and the Revival. By 1950 Lubulwa had broken with the Buganda leadership and, like a latter-day Kakungulu, he quit Buganda to find fruitful fields for his activities in Northern Uganda. [35]

The Revival in the Upper Nile Diocese

In 1926 a vast area of Northern and Eastern Uganda had been constituted as a separate Anglican diocese of Upper Nile. Unlike the diocese of Uganda, this was the predominately non-Bantu part of Uganda. Christianity had never been accepted as enthusiastically as in the south, and many parts of the North and East felt themselves victims of Kiganda sub-imperialism at the beginning of the century. This made them reluctant to accept a new version of Kiganda Christianity in the guise of the Balokole. From 1936-62 the Bishop of Upper Nile was Lucien Usher Wilson who was much less sympathetic to the Revival than Bishop Stuart. Bishop Usher Wilson’s “SCM” brand of liberal evangelicalism did not endear him to Joe Church; and the negative feelings were reciprocated. Usher Wilson had taught Nagenda at Budo and found him altogether too arrogant. All of this made the Upper Nile diocese rather stony ground.

But in the various places in Acholi and West Nile where Lubulwa worked as a government medical doctor the Revival did make an impact. Using their megaphones, Lubulwa’s group preached vigorously outside churches denouncing a dead and institutionalized Church. They became known as Trumpeters, with reference to their use of megaphones. Alternatively they were called Strivers, referring to the original dispute with Nagenda and the Balokole of Buganda. Not surprisingly the Church authorities reacted negatively tot eh attempts to disrupt church services. Local chiefs and the District Commissioners also feared that the movement might become subversive. In Kitgum in the late 40s, Janani Luwum (the future Archbishop) was beaten and imprisoned by an irate chief for his preaching activities. Silvanus Wani (who was to succeed Janani as Archbishop after his murder) had similar experiences in Arua. This was similar to the treatment of Balokole in Western Uganda some ten years earlier, and in the 1950s this kind of petty persecution tended to die out. But whereas in Western Uganda and Buganda conflict gave way to co-operation, in the North the Trumpeters kept up their hostility to the Church. This led to a fragmentation of the Revival. Some, like Luwum and Wani, went on to study theology at Buwalasi College (the diocesan theological college near Mbale). They were ordained and served the Church loyally. The other wing of the Revival, led in Acholi by Yusto Otunu, continued to have an ambivalent and basically hostile attitude to the Church, though they continued to regard themselves as members of the Church of Uganda. This group began to call themselves the Chosen Evangelical Revival, or Cer (which means “resurrection” in Lwo). For many yeas this group existed neither as a fully independent Church nor as part of the Church of Uganda. But in 1984 they were registered with the government as the CER Church, with Otunu as leader. The Church of Uganda Revival considers that they have made a number of unacceptable compromises with traditional culture–using, for example, the traditional head dress of the Acholi war dance, skins and ostrich feathers and horns as regalia in their worship - and that they do not have the strict moral standards expected of Balokole. The insecurity which has persisted in the North since the fall of the Obote regime in 1985 makes it difficult to know whether the CER Church will survive as a separate church, a rather heterodox off-shoot of the Revival movement. [36]

West Nile has a distinctive church life of its own, largely because it was evangelized not by CMS but by the Africa Inland Mission, working as part of the Native Anglican Church. The initial attitude of AIM to the Revival was one of suspicion, more especially as they met it first in Lubulwa’s aggressive variety. With a rather more paternalist attitude than CMS, AIM was less likely to welcome a movement inspired so strongly by local initiative. In Kenya AIM was to reject the Balokole revival, partly because it was so closely identified with the Anglican Church. But in Uganda, where the AIM was working under the Anglican Church, there developed a rather more favorable attitude, especially after some of the missionaries working in West Nile were deeply touched by the impact of staying at Namutamba and attending the 1949 Kako Convention. This led to rather stronger backing for the Revival in West Nile than CMS missionaries gave in other parts of the diocese of Upper Nile. West Nile Christianity has thrived under the impact of the Revival - indeed the experience of West Nile is more that of Kigenzi than any other area in northern Uganda. But the Revival has been divided between the Trumpeters and the Church of Uganda Revival. In 1976 Bishop Wani managed to effect a reconciliation which harnessed the whole Revival movement in the service of the Church. But the bitter experiences of war in West Nile in the early 1980s, personality conflicts among the Balokole exile in Sudan, and the influence of Otunu’s CER from Acholi, have combined to make the reconciliation seem fragile at times. [37]

The Balokole Experience: Belief and Practice

Church Commitment: One outstanding feature of the Balokole in Uganda, as has been seen in the historical discussion above, is their fundamental loyalty to the Church of Uganda. Despite their strong, often passionate, criticism of the Church, they have seen themselves as called to witness to the Church of Uganda from within the Church. Even the Trumpeters have been reluctant entirely to dissociate themselves from the Church. Balokole are conspicuous for their regular attendance at Sunday worship, their desire to baptize their children, to be married to one wife in the church, and to attend the sacrament of Holy Communion. They are adamant, however, that the sacraments of themselves do not have the power to mediate salvation. In particular Balokole warn people not to trust in the mere fact that they have been baptized as a guarantee of being saved.

The Blood of Christ: Salvation comes only through being washed in the blood of Christ, the blood shed on Calvary. The centrality of the atonement is a classic feature of evangelical revivalism; but the Balokole gave it an objective reality which a number of the European Evangelicals found disturbing: “The tendency is for an almost objective conception to be given to it as something visible in itself to the spiritually minded and almost distinct from the Lord Himself.” [38]

It was this aspect which Herbert at Bishop Tucker College had found so disturbing in 1936, when he accused the team from Ruanda of creating a new nsiriba (charm/ amulet) in their preoccupation with “the Blood”. He even asked Joe Church to desist from using the chorus “What can wash my away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” [39]

Put in a more favorable light, a number of commentators have pointed to parallels between the function of the blood for the Balokole and the function of blood in the Omukago ceremony of blood-brotherhood, as practiced in many African societies. Traditionally, Omukago was undergone by individuals from rival clans or tribes as a means of overcoming or transcending the natural hostility which existed and establishing a new relationship of love going deeper even than that between natural brothers. (Cf. Ephesians 2:13f: “But now in Christ you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ…He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.”) Josia Kibira, a Lutheran bishop from Western Tanzania (an area with strong cultural affinities with western Uganda), and also a Mulokole, has explored this theme at some depth, identifying central aspects of Balokole thinking with the Africa world-view. It should be said, however, that for the Balokole the new relationship with Christ dispenses with the need or the desirability of entering into human covenants such as omukago -these have been rendered obsolete, just as (according to the author of Hebrews) Christ’s sacrifice has rendered obsolete the Temple sacrifices and priesthood (Hebrews 9-10). [40]

Sin and Confession: The experience of being saved in the blood comes through a deep awareness of one’s own sinfulness, often expressed by Balokole as being broken. In this awareness all hypocrisy and self-justification are done away with. That being the case, it is essential to make a full and open confession before the brethren in a fellowship. The claim to be saved is not likely to be taken seriously unless this is done. One controversial aspect of this is connected with the confession of sexual sin. In the early days of the Revival it was considered as a matter of course that confession would include the confession of sexual sins often of a shocking and shameful nature. Sometimes a person confessing did not very precisely distinguish between lustful thoughts and actions, on the .grounds that “every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). In criticism people have also mentioned that some young people might feel under pressure to confess to sins they had not in fact committed, in order to be accepted by the group as really saved; conversely that they might be led to sexual experimentation on the basis of what they had discovered at fellowship meetings. It is in this area of sexual confession that some commentators have seen parallels with emmandwa initiation rites, in which the initiate was expected to admit to shameful sexual activity regarded as taboo in society. In acknowledgement of the problem associated with this aspect of confession, Balokole have tended over the years to become more reticent on these matters. The naming of partners in crime (who may even be there in the fellowship) is particularly discouraged.

In the case of stealing or misappropriation of funds, it was expected that a personal confession be made to whoever was wronged, and that restitution be made.

The completion of a person’s confession during a fellowship meeting is usually (followed by a spontaneous burst of the chorus “Tukutendereza”. This serves as a kind of “absolution” by the brethren, in the Lord’s name. The problem with increased reticence in confession is that confessions may become increasingly formalized and stereotyped so that they fail any longer really to lay bare the radical brokenness of human beings before their Savior, nor reach out into a deep sharing with members of the fellowship.

Testimony: As well as confession, an important part of a fellowship meeting will consist in testimony of what the Lord has done in your life–how he has enabled you to conquer a persistent sin or weakness, how he has guided you through a particular verse of Scripture or through a dream. The Bible is expected to speak directly and personally to you as an individual. There is impatience in the fellowship with the idea of using the Bible for sustained teaching on theological issues or knowledge for its own sake, since this does not directly bear on personal experience and morality. Similarly there is often a feeling among the brethren that Balokole who receive an academic training in theology tend to lose the heart-felt dynamic quality of personal experience in their preaching and that sermons become dry and academic. This is often a quite justified complaint!

Testimony also involved witness to those outside the fellowship - in the market, outside the church, at the bus park, in the bus or taxi, outside the chief’s enclosure. Such preaching was not a dialogue; it was aggressive and (seemingly) impervious to mockery and derision. While speaking of the joys of salvation, it also was also a decisive warning to those who were perishing. A hymn in the old Rukiga/Runyankore hymn book expresses well “the radical dichotomy between the saved and the damned in the minds of the brethren”:

You who delight in worldly pleasures
You will never feel satisfied
For even your ancestors
Were not satisfied

You eat and drink
You dress yourselves well
You play and laugh
But you forget that there is death

For only after your death
They will not prevent you
Or your hearts
From being taken to Gehena.

That’s it our friends
How shameful it is
To refuse life
And choose to die

We are your friends
We pity you
For being so blind
As not to imagine that world

We the saved ones
We have seen it.
And never shall we stop
Talking about it

And when you see it
After your death
Do not regret
For it was you who rebelled. [41]

The Balokole had an equally clear and stem attitude to those Christians who did not feel able to identify themselves fully with the brethren. They are reluctant to accept the idea that they are a group or party, as if there are other options for Christian discipleship, other understandings of salvation. Max Warren, the General Secretary of CMS wrote in 1954 Revival, An Enquiry, a most sympathetic and appreciative appraisal of the East African Revival. But he was also perturbed by this intense mono-vision. In trying to assess William Nagenda, he confided these reflections to his journal: “He seems to be a terribly insensitive person to any approach to God other than his own. Almost, if not actually, he doubts its validity. The very terms “born again”, ‘Cleansed by the blood”, “saved” most be given one precise meaning, and the results of the experience have to follow one pattern to be recognized as authentic. This is in many ways a noble and courageous creed but it is desperately impoverished, and leaves wholly out of account a vast range of human need.” [42]

A new clan: “…each man will have to bear his own load.” (Gal. 6:5) “Bear one another’s burdens.” (Gal. 6:2)

Although the experience of acknowledging your sinfulness and receiving salvation begins as an intensely individual and personal decision, it immediately transforms your situation, leading you from isolation into fellowship. The brethren take very seriously the necessity of bearing one another’s burdens”. One way in which this is expressed is through walking in the light. This involves being completely open and honest about your attitude to your brother or sister, sharing what you have found offensive and not allowing grudges to fester undisclosed. It also involves giving counsel and correction about a person’s general conduct. This must be given in love and received with a humble spirit and without resentment. In this way the fellowship group comes to have a strong disciplinary role among its members, enforcing community norms in such matters as clothing fashions and hair styles, drinking and smoking, and relations with members of the opposite sex. In the early days young people were sometimes expelled from their homes when they were converted; they moved in with senior brethren, who acted as parents. But even where this did not happen the fellowship claimed a right to be involved in choosing a marriage partner. Young people were expected to marry from within the fellowship, and Balokole parents were expected to dispense with the traditional bride price (though this has not always proved practicable).

In these ways the Balokole see themselves as a new clan, operating along the same lines as traditional clans, but also cutting across traditional clan obligations: Balokole may make a point of eating their clan totem, or refusing to give their children clan names; in Buganda, they refuse to participate in twin rituals and, the last funeral rites. But, traditional clan obligations have never been superseded entirely. Justas the Balokole have been critical of the Anglican Church while remaining part of it, so they have been critical of society without withdrawing from it. Moreover, over the years there has been a tendency to reach an accommodation with society and its basic obligations.

Women: Balokole claim to stand for the dignity of women. Monogamy is an important principle. The openness and integrity and honesty which characterize relations, between the brethren should apply even more strongly within the marriage relationship” so that there is a real sharing, and mutual love and respect. The fellowship also gives women a role in their own right - they can confess and testify, “Preach and pray on an equal, basis with the men. They can become ab’oluganda abakulu (senior sisters) and were accorded the title Maama. But, unless she was a widow, this would often be on the basis of her husband’s role as a leader. Her role has been predominantly on the local level; women have not been prominent as evangelists on a national or international scale; and the large issues concerning the Balokole as a whole have tended to be decided by men.

Politics: The attitude of Balokole in Buganda, with the rise of modem nationalist movements in the 1950s, was decisively to shun politics: one might say that “Yesu Yekka” rather than “Kabaka Yekka” was their motto. Nevertheless the Balokole insistence on the radical equality of Europeans and Africans can be seen as playing a part in the libration of Ugandans from the colonial mentality. There are interesting, similarities between Balokole leaders like Nagenda with his articulate public oratory and band of devoted followers, and the nascent political leaders of the 1950s, where populism and a personal following played such a part. Balokole were as deeply affected psychologically as other Baganda by the deportation of their Kabaka in 1953 by the British; and by the onslaughts on Buganda’s integrity in the 1960s. The rise of the Bazukufu (Reawakened) wing of the Balokole in the 1960s and 70s, with its rejection of compromise and accommodation, in a sense mirrored the general pessimism within Kiganda society at this time.

The different character of the Balokole in Western Uganda was reflected in their generally more buoyant participation in politics. Balokole, like Protestants generally (unless they were Bahima), were UPC sympathizers. In fact the 1950s and 60s saw a politicization of religion in Western Uganda to the extent that baptism became a symbol of party allegiance. This did great damage to the Balokole ideal of a Church permeated by the Balokole ethos, with a committed “saved” membership. It is something of a paradox that this area, where the revival has had the most profound impact, should be the arena of the most acute Catholic-Protestant tensions expressed in political terms, the “throne, of sectarianism” to quote a recent comment by a politician.

Indigenization and modernization: It is clear that the Balokole have no interest in “africanization” or “indigenization” for its own sake. Deeply critical of African values and lifestyles when they saw them as inimical to the Gospel, they have adopted very often a “Christ against Culture” polemic (to use Niebuhr’s typology). Yet it can be argued that this very critique of African values springs from within an African cultural perspective. We have already examined areas of African thought and social organization (omukago and clan) which have penetrated into Balokole belief and practice. Quite apart from the clan-like qualities of the whole fellowship, individual Balokole families have tended to fit into the existing nexus of extended family and kinship relations. Balokole leaders have often taken on quasi-chiefly characteristics, their home becoming clusters of dependants and being consulted by a wide variety of “clients” on many issues, problems and disputes. On a more modest scale, Balokole are not immune from the obligations of the extended family - they may be called upon to help in the upbringing of children of their “new” family, the brethren; and non-Balokole relatives may well value the strict discipline they are likely to receive. Undoubtedly there are tensions here between obligations to kinsfolk and to the brethren, and also tensions between the old extended family and the desire for a more nuclear family. But these are tensions within modern society generally.

In fact, the Balokole are often seen as “modernizers” - inculcators of the “Protestant ethic” with its emphasis on hard-work, honesty, sobriety and capital accumulation; and therefore with a tendency towards individualism and the breakdown of communal obligations. The early leaders of the Balokole certainly did represent a modernizing elite which was already well established, at least in Buganda. On the other hand, Balokole were as forthright in condemning the destructive inroads of secularism and materialism as they were in condemning unacceptable elements in traditional life. Balokole gave up cultivation of “immoral” crops and refused to brew beer, often the source of what little cash was available in a peasant household. Insurance policies were condemned and Balokole were discouraged from adopting ostentatious life-styles or accumulating material possessions. It has been said that the Revival was a protest against the increasing individualism and functionalism of life, a re-assertion of traditional face-to-face values and human relationships. [43]

Nevertheless, undoubtedly the Balokole were agents of modernization as well. They often rejected traditional medicines because of the unacceptable religious rituals often associated with them. This led to a greater reliance on western medicine. [44] They put a high priority on education for their children. The insistence on monogamy helped to reduce the children requiring education to manageable proportions; the high value put on saving helped to provide school fees; the home discipline helped children to be “high achievers” and to perform well in their studies. The virtues of honesty, integrity and hard work helped Balokole to get jobs and having got them to keep them. Their educated children were in a good position to get high-salaried professional posts. (But many children found the ethos of the fellowship too narrow and have not become Balokole themselves). The general result has been that the Balokole have been an upwardly-mobile status group, participating in the creation of a petit-bourgeoisie in society at large. But this has also created tensions within the Balokole themselves; most notably in the events which led to the establishment of the Bazukufu.

The rise of the Bazukufu (the Reawakened) [45]

In the 1940s and 50s, Nagenda, with Nsibambi in the background, managed to keep a fairly tight control over the majority of Balokole in Uganda. In the 1950s the Balokole gradually became a more respectable group and more integrated into the life of the Church. But this brought a feeling among some of the brethren that a worldliness was creeping in, a falling away from the fire and enthusiasm and commitment of the earlier period. Nsibambi, who lived in a kind of semi-retirement but who had still an enormous influence, began a new search for holiness and to revive Blasio’s old battle cry of “Zukuka” - Awake! In the 1960s this search for a reawakening came to be expressed in conflicts over dress and fashion, about whether brethren should take out loans and become burdened with debt in order to improve their material standard of living. Some of this dissatisfaction began to focus on Nagenda. He had become an international figure, leading missions to other parts of Africa, to Europe and as far afield as India and Brazil. To many of the brethren he seemed to be estranged from his home base and from the sharply-focused morality of the Balokole, with their absolute standards rigidly enforced. Yona Mondo emerged as the leader of this opposition. He had shared with Nagenda expulsion from Mukono in 1941. A Muganda from a relatively poor family, Nagenda had helped Mondo by giving him land at Kawempe (just north of Kampala). Many brethren explain Mondo’s growing estrangement from Nagenda as jealousy on the part of Mondo, who was consistently thwarted in his desire to go to preach in England. His austere character and lack of facility in English always made the brethren hesitate to send him abroad as their ambassador!

At the same time that Mondo was calling for a return to the old values, there was growing up a generation of educated Balokole who wanted to integrate the Revival more into modem life. Many were from western Uganda. Festo Kivengere from Kigezi had emerged as a prominent leader. He had spent many years as a teacher and evangelist in Dodoma (Tanganyika) but had returned in 1959. With Archbishop Brown’s approval he decided to seek ordination and to attend a theological college in the United States. As this was decided without the approval of the brethren in Kampala, it was considered a betrayal of group solidarity. Festo was becoming increasingly critical of the narrowness of many of the Baganda brethren, and from America wrote to Joe Church, by then living in retirement in Kampala: “When the spirit of freedom gives place to the spirit of fear among the brethren, that to me is the saddest day for Revival … Revival is bound to die when Christ is replaced by any of these treasured traditions - of plainness of dress, hair fashions–plus-plus!” [46]

Joe Church was equally saddened by the disputes within the Revival, but wrote back to Kivengere: “Buganda has changed since the burning of the lubiri. They are sad still and very sensitive, we have to come and sit with them, where they are, like Ezekiel did (Ezek.3:15).” [47]

This reference to the flight of the Kabaka in 1966 and the subsequent abolition of the kingdom of Buganda puts the increasing isolationism of many of the brethren in the context of the tragic history of Buganda in the 1960s, a tragedy which was to engulf the whole nation with the coming to power of Amin in 1971. 1971 was the year when the disputes among the Balokole came to a decisive break. By this time Nagenda was mortally sick with Parkinson’s disease, and was spending long periods outside the country in Oxford. Mondo’s group no longer shared fellowship with the brethren at the Namirembe weekly meeting, but began to meet separately at Kawempe. Nsibambi, who had in many ways sympathized with Mondo’s stand, now came off the fence and denounced the “Bazukufu” as extremists. They responded by denouncing the moderate Balokole as “Abafu” - those who were asleep. “Where has ever a revival like this one been seen, full of cows and money?” [48]

The Bazukufu have remained a strong minority tradition within the Balokole, particularly in Buganda, Busoga and Bunyoro. They are a strongly cohesive group, with a well organized system of fellowship meetings culminating in a regular gathering at Kawempe, where Mondo lived until his death in 1978. They claim to have re-established the old strict ethical code of the first Balokole, and in particular have rejected materialism, symbolized by their refusal to incur debts or to keep dogs (to guard their property). They continue to have a critical loyalty to the Church Of Uganda. In the 1970s much of this criticism focused on the new canon on baptism (1973) which made provision for the baptism of all children whose parents requested the sacrament, not as hitherto only children of parents married in the church. The Bazukufu felt that it was not fitting to baptize such abaana b’obwenzi (literally children of immorality - bastards). [49] They walked out of the Church when such baptisms took place. Similarly they refused to receive the Holy Communion from pastors they deemed unworthy of celebrating the sacrament. They sought the ministrations of Bazukufu clergy; however, they were at odds with their bishop for their refusal to implement the new canon on baptism. These issues have now subsided and the Bazukufu live in a fairly “peaceful tension” with the Church, upholding the principles and life-style of the original Revival. They remain a tightly-knit group, retaining their members and even attracting young people in search of some definite moral standards in an increasingly confusing society racked by civil war and inflation, where without such absolute standards Christian principles are continually being compromised.

The Balokole and ‘modern Uganda Society

For the mainstream of the Balokole the years since Independence have seen increasing integration into the life of the Church. The Archbishops, Bishops and the majority of the clergy come from the Balokole tradition. Perhaps the two outstanding Balokole churchmen have been Janani Luwum and Festo Kivengere. Luwum became Archbishop in 1974 and died in 1977 as a Christian martyr and champion of human rights during the Amin tyranny. Kivengere had a remarkable career as international evangelist, founder of Africa Evangelistic Enterprise, Bishop of Kigezi and a man at the centre of Ugandan national life, working for lasting solutions to the intractable problems which Uganda has faced. He above all transcended the limitations of Balokole piety and practice, and encouraged the Balokole tradition as a whole to be dynamic, creative and responsive to the profound changes in culture and society. [50]

Kivengere died in 1988. His example remains a challenge to a movement which is now over half a century old. Many young people are finding both the Anglican Church and the Balokole fellowship too rigid and unresponsive to their needs. Many are joining charismatic churches outside the Church of Uganda; or are rejecting Christianity altogether. Many of the weaknesses which the Balokole first challenged in the 1930s still persist within the Church: a rigidity of worship, a “preponderance of clergy”, a lack of moral discipline, greatly aggravated by the general collapse of values in the civil wars and economic upheavals of recent years.

The Church has been susceptible to the erosion of moral standards and integrity as has the rest of society. In this situation there is surely in need again for a renewal of the Church. It remains to be seen whether the Balokole will again be an instrument of this revival or whether God’s spirit will operate in an entirely new way. However, God chooses to work the Balokole will be content to praise their God and Savior.

Tukutendereza Yesu,
Yesu Mwana gw’endiga:
Omusaayi gwo gunaazizza;
Nkwebaza Mulokozi.


1. For printed works on the East African Revival see: Jocelyn Murray, “A Bibliography of the East African Revival Movement,” in Journal of Religion in Africa, 1976, fasc 2.
Apart from such printed material, this account is largely based on archival material, the chief collections being:
CMS. The Archives of the Church Missionary Society,
London. These archives are held by the University of Birmingham, UK.
JCP. The Joe Church Papers. These are the personal papers of Dr. J. E. Church, who lives near Cambridge, UK.
2. For the early history of the Revival at Gahini cf:
J.E. Church, Quest for the Highest, Paternoster, Exeter, 1981.
L. Guillebaud, A Grain of Mustard Seed, The Growth of the Ruanda Mission, Ruanda Mission, London, n.d. (1959).
P. St. John, Breath of Life, Norfolk Press, London, 1971.
3. JCP.File: Awake! Church - Webster 19.1.1937.
4. For an example of CMS missionaries’ attitudes to the Ruanda Mission, see CMS. G3 A7/0 Daniell to Hooper, 4.2.1930.
5. I am grateful to Mr. EM.K. Mulira for giving me details of Nsibambi’s early life.
6. Kome Island was where Pilkington had his famous experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit in 1892. c.f. C.F. Harford Battersby, Pilkington of Uganda, London, 1898.
7. J.E. Church, Quest, pp 66-8.
8. J.E. Church, Awake Uganda! The story of Blasio Kigozi and his vision of Revival, 1938 (2nd edition, 1957).
9. JCP. File: Abaka.
10. The Fifth Kabale Convention: Kabale Golden Jubilee: “Behold I am Making All Things New,” 1985. Pamphlet. Quoted by J.W. Katarikawe in an article entitled “A short history of Beginnings and the First Kabale Convention.”
11. J.E.Church, Awake Uganda!
12. I am grateful to Mr. Erasto Kato of Bunyoro for this information. Oral Interview at Mukono, June 1984.
13. JCP. File: Call to Mukono 1935-40
14. For a detailed account of the Mukono Crisis cf. Kevin Ward, “Obedient Rebels: The Relationship Between the Early Balokole and the Church of Uganda,” an article to be published in Journal of Religion in Africa, 1989.
15. Details of Nagenda’s early life are scattered in JCP, especially File: William Nagenda: A Short Appreciation. For the comment on Mukono ordinands cf. CMS. G3 A7/0-1929.
16. For a full list of the “bajeemu” cf. K. Ward, op. cit.
17. CMS. G3. A7 e 8/1 Mukono Bishop Tucker Memorial College. Bishop to “students concerned” 8.11.1941.
18. CMS. G3 A 7/5 Revival Problems: Report of a Meeting of some CMS missionaries and Africans at Kabale 16-17.12.1941, to think and pray over the “Balokole” problems in Uganda.
19. For the background to the Bishop’s involvement in the Namasole issue cf. CMS. G3 A7 dl, Bishop to Hooper, 7.7.1941.
See also D.E. Apter, The Political Kingdom in Uganda, Princeton, 1961, pp. 207, 213-14.
20. JCP. File: Revival Correspondence 1937-45, Sabiti to Church, 2.10.1941.
See also P.K. Tinka, Uganda’s first Anglican Archbishop, thesis presented for the A.T.I.E.A. B.D. Degree, 1987.
21. Oral interview with Peter Mugyeru, Rukungiri, December 1987.
22. E. Hopkins “The Nyabingi Cult” in R. Rotherg & A. Mzrui, Protest and Power in Black Africa, Oxford, 1971.
23. C.E. Robins, Tukutendereza: A Study of Social Change and Sectarian Withdrawal in the Balokole Revival. Ph.D. dissertation of Columbia University, 1975, p.235.
24. JCP. Various Files deal with these issues, including: Revival Correspondence 1937-45, License Removed & New Way, and Muyebe & Mutaho.
25. CMS. G3 A7/5 Revival Problems, ‘Mukono Commission Report.’
26. JCP. File: New Way. The Meaning of the “New Way” as I Understand it, by Bishop Stuart, translated from Ebifa mu Uganda, April 1943.
27. JCP. File: New Way. Sabiti to C. Markby, 20.2. 1943.
28. Bill Butler, Hill Ablaze, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1976.
29. For details see K. Ward, op. cit.
30. For DJ. Stenning, “Salvation in Ankole,” in M. Fortes &G. Dieterlen (editors), African Systems of Thought, London, 1965.
31. D. Kiggundu, The Fears & Attitudes of Ordinary Christians to the Revival Movement, thesis for the Makerere University Diploma in Theology, 1987.
32. John Wilson, Beliefs and Practices of the Revival Movement M. Th.Fuller, Pasadena, 1976.
33. JPC. File: Fellowship, Charles Wale J. Church, 29.10.1939.
34. JCP. File: Revival correspondence 1937-45. Circular letter of W. Nagenda June 15 (1945)
35. Kefa Zodia, The Revival in West Nile, Dissertation for Makerere Diploma in Theology, 1978.
36. M. Ford, Janani, 1977.
K. Gong, The History of the Revival Movement in Kitgum, dissertation for the Makerere Diploma in Theology, 1985.
37. E. Adraa, The Growth and Impact of Chosen Evangelical Revival in Ayivu County, West Nile, dissertation for the Makerere Diploma in Theology, 1986. S. Kermu, The Life and Times of Bishop Silvanus Wani, dissertation for the A.T.lE.A. B.D. Degree, 1987.
Margaret Lloyd, Wedge of light, n.d (c.1982) Privately printed
38. Ruanda Mission Archives, London: P.J. Brazier, Some Characteristics of the Ruanda Revival Fellowship, 10.8.45.
39. Information from Joe Church, 1979.
40. Josiah Kibira, Church, Clan and the World, Gleerop, Uppsala, 1974.
41. C. Robins, Tukutendereza op. cit. Appendix II.
42. Unpublished Diaries of Max Warren, General Secretary of CMS.
I am most grateful to Mrs. Pat Hooker, his daughter, for allowing me to see these valuable diaries.
43. C. Robins discusses these issues in her PhD dissertation, Tukutendereza.
For a critique see M Winter, “The Balokole and the Protestant Ethic: in Journal of Religion in Africa XIV, I, 1983.
44. G.W. Kasangaki, The Revival Movement in Hoima, dissertation for the Makerere Diploma in Theology, 1988.
45. JCP. File: Abazukuse 1962-72., Lweza, and Going deeper.
P.J. Magumba, The Bazukufu in Busoga, dissertation for the Makerere Diplpma in Theology, 1978.
46. JCP. File: Going Deeper. F. Kivengere –J. Church 23.8.1966.
47. Ibid. Church to Kivengere 30.12.1966.
48. Quoted in Robins, op. cit, pp. 319-26.
49. S. Tusuubira, Attitudes to the new Canon on Baptism in the Church of Uganda, dissertation for Makerere Diploma in Theology, 1977.
50. A biography of Festo Kivengere is in preparation, written by Anne Coomes, to be published by Monarch Press.

This article originally appeared in From Mission to Church: A Handbook of Christianity in East Africa, ed. Zablon Nthamburi, published by Uzima Press (Imani House, St. John’s Gate, off Parliament Rd., P.O. Box 48127, Nairobi, Kenya) in 1991. Used with permission.