Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Foreword to the Dictionary of Christianity in Uganda


It has been in preparation over a number of years, and the selection of topics for inclusion has proved extremely difficult. The longer one spends on a work of this sort, the longer grows the list of topics one wishes to include. But in view of the amount of research needed for each, one has to call a halt, since in the present situation, which is characterized by a lack of textbooks and teaching materials, the most pressing need is for some information to be circulated, and this Dictionary has been held up long enough. It is certain that every user will have complaints about omissions. The only answer I have to give to these complaints is that my own list of the topics I should like to have included is probably longer than anyone else’s.

Since the Dictionary began to be prepared, both the Catholic and Anglican Churches in Uganda have several times altered their dioceses, and some reflection of this will be found here. It is hoped that cross-referencing will adequately cover the present situation.

Some mention must be made of the sources on which the information here is based.

The information about Anglican clergy has been checked with A Register of Missionaries and Native Clergy, 1805-1905 (published by the C.M.S. for private circulation), and with the relevant issues of Crockford’s Clerical Directory. The dates of ordination of Ugandan clergy have been checked with the Registers of Oaths and Declarations taken by clergy on ordination for the Dioceses of Eastern Equatorial Africa and Uganda.

Much of the information on African Christian leaders, Anglican and Catholic, derives from research undertaken in preparing a Ph.D. thesis for the University of East Africa. It rests on information in the Archives of the C.M.S.; from parish registers, account books and minutes books; from a wide variety of printed sources; and from a large number of oral interviews. This last has been checked with documentary material wherever appropriate, and with other oral sources.

Material for the Catholic Church has been derived from the sources mentioned below in the list of contributors to whom special thanks are due; from printed and published sources; and from oral information. Wherever appropriate, material has been checked with the Catholic Directory for Eastern Africa, editions of 1965 and 1968/9.

The printed sources are too numerous to be listed here, but may be found in A Bibliography of African Church History, circulated by the Department of Religious Studies, and available on request.

In spite of careful checking it is inevitable that some errors will have crept in, and the editor will be grateful if those who noticed them will be kind enough to write and tell her.

Special mention must be made of a number of people who have helped with a series of articles, or given facilities without which this work could not have been done. Thanks are due to:

Rev. Fr. T. Agostoni, F.S.C.J. (material on missionaries of the Verona Fathers)

Rev. C. Bamwoze, (help in collecting material on some Church of Uganda clergy)

The Most Rev L. Brown )      information on some aspects of the

Rev. J. Poulton              )      Church of Uganda.

Rev. K. Sharpe              )

The Staff of Katigondo Major Seminary (access to material on the White Fathers)

Rev. Fr. A MacMullan, S.J. (material on some Catholic missionaries).

Rev. Fr. J.P. Thoonen, M.H.M. (information on missionaries of the Mill Hill Mission)

Rev. R.D. Pifer (information on the Seventh Day Adventist Church)

The Mother General of the Bannabikira (access to mss. material on Mother Mechtilde)

The Librarian of the Royal Commonwealth Society (access to the Society’s card-index biographical material relating to East Africa)

H.B. Thiomas, Esq., O.B.E. (guidance about many aspects of Ugandan history and Archives)

The Librarian and Archivist of the Church Missionary Soceity

The Librarian, Lambeth Palace Library

The Librarian and staff of Makerere College Library

The Librarian of the Uganda Society

Many others have helped in the compilation of the Dictionary, supplying information which they have often kindly allowed me to redraft so as to achieve some sort of uniformity of treatment. Information about institutions has normally been supplied by a member of staff of the institution. A complete list of these contributors will be found at the end. But for all errors, and for the point of view expressed, the editor alone is responsible.

M. Louise Pirouet

Department of Religious Studies

Makerere University College


March, 1969

A Guide to Some Important Dates in the Early History of the Church in Uganda

Louise Pirouet

(Subjects marked with an asterisk * will be found dealt with in articles in the Dictionary)

1862 The explorer, Speke, reached the source of the Nile.

1875 The explorer, H.M. Stanley, visited Kabaka Mutesa and sent a letter to the “Daily Telegraph” asking for missionaries.

1877 Arrival of * Lt. Shergold Smith and C.T. Wilson of the * Church Missionary Society, sent in response to Stanley’s letter.

1878 Smith and a third CMS missionary, O’Neill, were murdered at Ukerewe. Wilson remained alone in Buganda until * A.M. Mackay joined him at the end of the year.

1879 Arrival of * Pere Lourdel and * Br. Amans of the * White Fathers Mission.

1880 The first three Catholic converts were baptized.

1882 The first Anglican converts were baptized. The White Fathers temporarily withdrew to Usukuma because of Mutesa’s hostility.

1884 Kabaka Mutesa died and was succeeded by Mwanga. Uganda was declared part of the Vicariate Apostolic of Victoria Nyanza under * Mgr. Livinhac.

1885 Persecution was feared and the first Anglican Church Council was appointed to carry on if the missionaries had to withdraw. * Bishop Hannington was murdered. Joseph Mukasa Balikudembe became the first Catholic martyr (v. Uganda Martyrs). The White Fathers returned at Mwanga’s request.

1886 Many martyrdoms took place (v. Uganda Martyrs).

1888-9 Mwanga’s plans to wipe out all Christians and Muslims failed, and he was deposed by a Christian-Muslim coalition. The Muslims then seized power. The Baganda Christians fled to Ankola, and the missionaries south of L. Victoria. After the Christians had fought their way back to power, Mwanga was reinstated, but the real power now lay in the hands of the Christian revolutionaries. * Mgr. Livinhac became Superior General of the * White Fathers, and was succeeded by * Bishop Hirth.

1890 The first Catholic Baganda were sent to study at * Cardinal Lavigerie’s institute at Malta. Captain Lugard and the Imperial British East Africa Company arrived in December. * Bishop Tucker also arrived in December.

1891 The first three Anglican Baganda went as evangelists to Usukuma (v. Nathanieli Liudeka). * Kasagama was reinstated as Omukama of Toro by Lugard. The threatened withdrawal of the bankrupt IBEAC was averted to the great relief of the CMS who thought their converts and work would suffer if British control were withdrawn.

1892 Protestant-Catholic quarrels came to a head in the Battle of Mengo (v. Wars of Religion). In the subsequent settlement Buddu was declared a Catholic county. The first Catholic Mission was established at Villa Maria by * Mgr. Streicher. The first Anglican teachers went to Busoga.

1893 A Provisional British Protectorate was proclaimed over Buganda. The first six Anglican African clergy were ordained (v. Duta, Sebwato, Kisingiri). First Catholic Minor Seminary was opened. Luganda replaced Swahili as the medium of instruction in the Anglican mission. A revival led by * Pilkington took place in December.

1894 * Nuwa Kikwabanga and * Yosua Kiwavu went as evangelists to Busoga. CMS work in Koki was started under a Muganda evangelist. Petero Nsubiga and Maki Lweimbazi went as Anglican evangelists to Toro at * Kasagama’s request. A abortive attempt was made to start work in Kavirondo by the CMS. Northern Uganda was placed under the Vicariate Apostolic of Khartoum (* Verona Fathers). The Vicariate of Victoria Nyanza was divided and * Hirth was put in charge of the southern part.

1895 * Bishop Guillermain was consecrated and became Vicar Apostolic of Northern Victoria Nyanza. * Pere Achte established a Catholic Mission in Toro. The first * Mill Hill missionaries arrived under * Bishop Hanlon, and this mission was made responsible for Catholic work in Eastern Uganda. * Apolo Kivebulaya went to Toro. * A.B. Fisher was the first CMS missionary to arrive in Koko.

1896 * Kasagama was baptized, and * Fisher and * Lloyd established a CMS mission in Toro. * Kivebulaya went to Toro. * Bishop Guillermain died and was succeeded by * Bishop Streicher.

1897 The Sudanese troops in Uganda mutinied. Kabaka Mwanga rose in arms against British rule, centering his rebellion on Buddu, from which all missionaries had to flee. * Pilkington was killed in the Mutiny but had completed the Luganda Bible. The Anglican * Diocese of Uganda was formed and placed under * Bishop Tucker. * Dr. Cook arrived and started * Mengo Hospital. The first CMS women missionaries arrived.

1898 The Omukama Kabarega was driven out of Bunyoro and * Tomasi Semfuma accompanied Kitainbwa who was put in his place by the British. A government station was established in Ankole.

1899 Firipo Bamulanzechi and Andereya Kwamya went as the first Anglican evangelists to Ankole (v. Mbaguta). Kitaimbwa was baptized in Bunyoro. Kabarega and Mwanga were captured with the aid of * Kakunguru, and exiled. * Sr. Dorthèe and * Sr. Mechtilde arrived with the first White Sisters.

1900 The Uganda Agreement was signed. * Kakunguru settled near Mbale with evangelists Banyamini and Andereya Batuladbudde.

1901 The Revs. * H. Clayton and * J.J. Willis started a CMS mission in Ankole. * Fr. Laane and * Johana Kitagana. Started a Catholic mission at Hoima. The first senior seminary was opened near Masaka and the first regular training for catechists was begun at Rubaga.

1902 Peres * Gorju, Salles and * Varangot opened a Catholic mission in Mbarara. Namilyango College was founded. Mbaguta and the Omugabe of Ankole were baptized by the Anglicans.

1903 The first missionary exploration of Acoli was carried out by * Lloyd. The first Franciscan Sisters arrived with * Mother Kevin in the party.

1904 * Lloyd, Pleydell and * Kitching started a CMS mission in Acoli helped by * Sira Dongo.

1905 Anglican work in Kavirondo (then part of the * Diocese of Uganda) was started by * Willis, and the first Banyoro Anglican teachers reached South Lango at the request of Chief Odoro.

1906 * Kings College, Budo, and Maseno School, Kavirondo founded. The first Anglican evangelists went to the Sudan.

1908 A noviciate was opened for the * Bannabikira, the first indigenous Catholic Sisterhood in Africa. CMS missionaries were withdrawn from Acoli because of lack of response, and CMS work was started at Ngoro in Teso.

1910 The Verona Fathers established a mission in Acoli led by * Bishiop Geyer.

1911 “Munno”, the first Catholic newspaper, was started.

  • Bishop Hanlon and * Bishop Tucker resigned.

1912 * Bishop Biermans and * Bishop Willis were consecrated.

1913 * Fisher reopened a CMS station in Acoli. The first two African Catholic priests in Uganda were ordained; Frs. * Bazilio Lumu and Victorio Womereka Mukasa (later Mgr.)

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.