Classic DACB Collection

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

Semfuma, Tomasi

Anglican Communion (Church of Uganda)

[BUNYORO. Muganda]

In his youth Rev. Tomasi Semfuma was a servant of Princess Nalumansi, a sister of Kabaka Mutesa. In 1884 he started to learn at the Protestant mission, and must have been baptized shortly after this since he was made a member of the first Church Council in 1885. In May 1886 he took Ashe the news that Nalumansi had burnt her fetishes, an action which precipitated further persecution. He would have been executed, but Mackay redeemed him with a gift of ivory to the Kabaka. In 1888 he was among the Christian exiles in Ankole. He was commissioned by Bishop Tucker in 1891 as one of the first lay-evangelists. In 1892 he was wounded at the Battle of Mengo, but his life was saved by Dr. Gaskoin Wright. In 1895 he was sent as an evangelist to Koki, and when Kitehimbwa was appointed by the British Mukama of Bunyoro in 1898 he went with him and stayed at Masindi teaching at his court. In 1899 he was ordained deacon, and returned for a time to Masindi. In 1901 he was ordained priest and was then appointed to Luwero in North Bulemezi where he remained until 1916.[2] In that year he was transferred to Natete where he worked until his retirement. He died at Katwe on September 4, 1929.[3]

Louise Pirouet

Notes(short form; see List of Sources for complete citations):

  1. This account is based on J.V. Taylor, 1958, p. 272, and Tucker, 1908, Vol. II, pp. 172, 180, 201, 239, 236.

  2. Church of Uganda, Record Book.

  3. Diocesan Gazette, Uganda, 14, 10, 1929, p. 46; Kanyike, 1965.

This biography, written by Louise Pirouet, was included in “Appendix A: Biographical Notes,” on page 425 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]