Dongo, Sira (A)
Rev. Canon Sira Dongo was born near Ang’uzzi in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His father was named Anywalo To, and his mother died in a small pox epidemic when he was a child. With his sisters he was captured by Kabarega’s barusura and taken to Bunyoro. Here he became a gun-bearer to one of the barusura. His master owed a debt of ten guns to a Muganda, and when he could not pay, he handed over Dongo. In Buganda Dongo went to church services with his master, and started to learn to read. In 1901 his master accompanied Jamusi Miti to Bunyoro on his appointment to a saza chieftaincy there. Dongo here took or was given his freedom, and went to serve the CMS missionary, the Rev. H. Farthing, and continued with his baptism classes. In 1902 before his baptism he returned to Alur country with Edwudi Sururu, a fellow Alur also living in Bunyoro, to see his father. His clan were angry when he insisted on returning to Bunyoro to go on with his reading. He was baptized by the Rev. Nuwa Nakiwafu at Hoima on May 3, 1903. The same year he accompanied the Rev. A. B. Lloyd on his exploratory safari to Acoli, acting as an interpreter, and the following year returned as a teacher. He also helped with the initial stages of translating St. Mark’s Gospel into Acoli, since he was able to work from the Luganda Bible. In 1905 he married Luoira Farwenyo, also an Alur, who took the name Karungi when she became a Christian, and the same year took his first letter. For a year he taught in Acoli again, and in 1907 was confirmed at Musindi. When the mission was closed in 1908 he left Acoli with the missionaries, but after taking his second letter in 1909 he returned to Acoli where he met with some opposition as he tried to build a little church and start Christian teaching again. He also tried in vain to prevent a clan fight, fighting having broken out again with the withdrawal of the administrative post from Keyo. He did a lot to win back the confidence of the people, but in 1911 he was recalled to be head teacher at Masindi, this presumably being considered a more important post. However, he did not get on with the Rev. H. W. Tegart who was a somewhat autocratic person, and in disgust gave up his teaching and went to trade in Kitgum where he was offered a much more lucrative job as a clerk, but his wife persuaded him to return to the service of the church. Between 1911 and 1913 he several times visited Acoli and larger congregations than usual turned up to hear him preach when he did so. In 1914 he passed his third letter, and from 1915-1917 he was at Mukono studying for ordination. He was ordained deacon in 1917 and priest in 1919, and spent all the remainder of his life working in Acoli and Lango. He was a great friend of Muca Ali and the two worked together traveling around the country and preaching and teaching. In 1925 he paid a special visit to Lango with Paulo Baguma and the following year helped Canon Lawrence open the first CMS station at Boroboro near Lira. In 1936 he was made a Canon of the Upper Nile Diocese, and died two years later.
Notes(short form; see List of Sources for complete citations):
Based on the booklet written by Canon Lawrence entitled Kwo pa Ladit Canon Sira Dongo, but corrected at a number of points, particularly with regard to his early life, by reference to the Baptism and Marriage Registers, and from oral information from his wife and from Canon Alipayo Latigo who made a study of his life. See also pp. 277-9 of Chapter V and notes thereon [in Pirouet’s thesis, noted below].
This biography, written by Louise Pirouet, was included in “Appendix A: Biographical Notes,” on pages 384-5 of “The Expansion of the Church of Uganda (N.A.C.) from Buganda into Northern and Western Uganda between 1891 and 1914, with Special Reference to the work of African Teachers and Evangelists” (PhD Thesis: University of East Africa, 1968). Pirouet published this thesis as Black Evangelists (London: Rex Collings, 1978). However, Black Evangelists does not reproduce the detailed biographies, complete with references to sources, found in Appendix A of the thesis. Print copies are available at Africana Section, Makerere University Library (U 02 P57); The Centre for Christianity Worldwide, Cambridge; and a microfilm copy at the School of Oriental Studies, London. [information from Angus Crichton]