Balya, Aberi Kakyomya (B)
Rev. Aberi Kakyomya Balya was born in Eastern Toro in 1881, and when a child was taken to Bunyoro by Kabarega’s armies. Because his aunt was one of Kabarega’s wives he was brought up in the royal enclosure. In 1896 Kabarega was hard pressed by the British and Balya and other Batoro returned to Toro where Kasagama had been reestablished as omukama. Balya served in the royal enclosure where he started to attend classes for Christian instruction. He was baptized as an Anglican in 1901. After his confirmation in 1903 he started to work as a church teacher in Kyaka and Nyakambimba. In 1905 he worked in Ankole for a year bringing new life to a place which had previously fared badly. In 1907 he married Ketura who had been in the service of the Queen Mother and who was also a teacher. The same year he went to Mboga (v. Kivebulaya), and in 1908 to Kitagwenda where work had been very difficult, and he was the first to make headway there. For a year in 1910 and 1911 he worked with Harry Edward Maddox on Bible translation. He then went to Bishop Tucker College, Mukono, and qualified as a lay-reader, and after a period at Rwengoma where he concentrated on the Bakonjo, he returned to Mukono to study for ordination. He was ordained priest in 1922 and returned to Rwengoma, working especially to establish Christianity in Butuku. In 1923 he was put in charge of Busongora and again worked among the Bakonjo. From 1931 to 1934 he was at Mboga, making journeys to the pygmies first evangelized by Kivebulaya. In 1934 he was posted to St. John’s Church, Kabarole (Fort Portal) and was made a Canon of Namirembe Cathedral the following year. In 1938 he was made an honorary life governor of the CMS. In 1947 he was appointed an assistant bishop with special responsibility for western Uganda. He was the first East African to be raised to the Anglican episcopate, and was consecrated on 25 October 1947. During the years of this episcopate he was particularly concerned for the training of catechists and lay readers, and established centers for such training. In 1952 he was awarded the O.B.E. He retired in 1960 and has written his memoirs and accounts of his life which have been published serially in “New Day.” He is respected as an authority on local knowledge and history.
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. 17. 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.