Kisingiri, Zakarya Kizito
Rev. Zakarya Kizito Kisingiri was a leading Protestant chief. Prior to the coming of the missionaries he was a mutongole (official responsible to the Kabaka). He started to visit the CMS mission in 1882, and was baptized in December 1883 having eventually agreed to give up all but one wife. He often acted as a Luganda/Kiswahili interpreter for the missionaries. He became a member of the Church Council formed during the persecutions of 1885-1886 to enable the church to carry on if the missionaries had to flee. In 1888 he became one of the leaders of the Christian exiles in Ankole (v. Wars of Religion). In 1889 he was appointed to another sub-chieftainship (Kagoro) in Buddu. In 1891 he was one of the first group to be commissioned as lay-evangelists by Bishop Alfred Robert Tucker. The same year he accompanied Lugard on his expedition to western Uganda to fetch Emin Pasha’s Sudanese troops from Kavalli’s. It was he who brought Kasagama, heir to the royal line of Toro, to Lugard’s notice, and thus he was instrumental in getting him reinstated as Omukama. Both Lugard and later Sir Gerald Portal held a high opinion of Kisingiri. In 1892 he was appointed Kengao of Bulemezi. In 1893 he was ordained perpetual deacon at the same time as Nikodemo Sebwato the Sekibobo of Kyagwe, in the first ordination every to be held in Uganda. In 1896 he stood as godfather to Kasagama of Toro. In 1897 when Mwanga rose in arms and Daudi Chwa was proclaimed Kabaka in his place, Kisingiri was appointed one of three regents, the other being Apolo Kagwa and Stanislaus Mugwanya. The same year he visited Kasagama, and performed marriages and baptisms in Toro. In 1899 he visited Ankole and added his voice to those trying to persuade the Omugabe to accept Christian Teaching. In 1900 he was one of the signatories to the Uganda Agreement. He remained a member of the Diocesan Council almost up to the time of his death, though after 1900 he had little time for work as a deacon. He died in 1917 and was buried at Bajo in Bulemezi.
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.