Apostle of Bunyaruguru and of Kigezi, western Uganda.
Born in Buganda, Kitagana was a subchief with five wives, baptized by Catholic missionaries in 1896. He had already set aside all his wives, declaring, “God must suffice for me.” In 1901, announcing his intention to work as a missionary to peoples other than his own, he resigned his chiefdom, distributed his property to the poor, and left for Bunyoro, west of Buganda. After some time he was brought back by the White Fathers for a year of catechist training at Lubaga. He was then sent to the kingdom of Bunyaruguru, and in 1911 was moved to the district of Kigezi to begin its evangelization. For twelve years, until the arrival of the first White Father in 1923, he led the entire Catholic missionary work in Kigezi, supervising other resident catechists while ceaselessly itinerating across its valleys and mountains. Apart from the white gown he wore on Sundays, he was dressed only in an animal skin. He remained permanently celibate, became the subject of many miracle stories, and continued as an evangelist until his death.
Y. Ssebalijja, “Memories of Rukiga and Other Places,” and J. Nicolet, “The Religious Impact of Yohanna Kitagana,” both in D. Denoon, ed., A History of Kigezi (1972), pp.177-199 and 231-240.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.