M7 PINS TOP CLERICS JOSHUA LWERE, JOSEPH SERWADDA ON WITCH-CRAFT
By Mulengera Reporters
During his Tuesday address at Kololo Airstrip where the fallen Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga was celebrated and prayed for at a function organized by the state, President Museveni referenced on an experience from the NRA bush war (1981-86) where a one Sabakirisitu Semiganda, who was heading laity at Bukamuli Catholic Parish, insisted they had to engage in some witch-craft and ritual cleansing for the rebel army to win the war against Obote’s UNLA. Like Col Kizza Besigye has always said, there was a time when the fighters, collaborators and sympathizers became frustrated and pondered defecting because the rebel NRA was encountering one misfortune after another.
Apparently, the witch-craft suggestion Museveni referred to in his Kololo speech must have come up during one of those moments of immense frustration regarding the lack of progress in the NRA war. That Fr. Lafram, a French Priest for Bukamuli parish who was an active NRA sympathizer in the Luwero triangle jungles, feared for his life as the UNLA looked for him and even fled back to Canada. But as he was leaving, the Canadian Priest put Gen Museveni in touch with Semiganda who he said was very influential among the Catholics in the area because he was head laity in that same Catholic Parish. Museveni often met with Semiganda who used one of those meetings to suggest to him why he thought the NRA war wasn’t progressing well.
“He said but Mr. Museveni, for you don’t know that Obote bewitched this war. I know he ritually killed a woman and buried her in Bukomero to frustrate our war. Let’s do something. He suggested several rituals which had to be performed at Magala, Buyego and other hills for the NRA war to have accelerated progress. But I said Mr. Semiganda you are a Christian why do you believe in those things? He said yes I’m a Christian but those things are also there and we have to do something to reverse the Obote curse,” Museveni said adding that he had since that time come to realize that many people in Uganda are dualists when it comes to spirituality. “They will practice Christianity at a very high level but also remain traditionalists,” he said adding that, that understanding had enabled him come off as a very tolerant religious pluralist.
Renowned for his great story-telling skills, Gen Museveni then connected that Semiganda history to the contemporary Uganda and the intolerance some of his allies among the religious leaders exhibit sometimes. Firstly, he referenced on Bishop Joshua Lwere, arguably the current head of Pentecostals in Uganda.
“He one time came to see us and told Mama Janet [who was Minister of Karamoja] that we need to burn the shrines of those Karamajongs. I told him Lwere please go away and leave those things to me because I know many of our peasants have dual allegiance to Christianity or even Islam but also the traditional way. I told him Lwere please go back to Kampala and find something else to do,” Museveni told a conspicuously silent audience at Kololo where he arrived unusually on time implying the immense respect he had for Archbishop CK Lwanga whose memory was being celebrated.
Quoting from Biblical scriptures, Museveni said that the likes of Lwere, well-intentioned as they are, forget that the best way to change such people is to be exemplary while serving among them and deploying the gradualist approach. “Like Jesus said in one of the scriptures, you just have to let your light shine before men and they see your good deeds and then they will praise your Father in heaven.” Museveni also referred to Lwere’s Pentecostal colleague Dr. Joseph Serwadda, the pastor of Victory Church Ndeeba, who he said equally met him one time and persuaded him to become hostile to witch-doctors to show he is opposed to what he called their satanic ways of worship. “I told him leave me alone. You are just a preacher but me I’m a President for all people.”
In the same speech, Museveni recalled first meeting future Archbishop Lwanga face to face in Kyankwanzi when he had just taken power and become President in 1986. That then Cardinal Emmanuel Nsubuga, who had played a very big role giving all the moral and financial support to the NRA war, had summoned Gen Museveni to talk to him about certain things that had to be prioritized for the country.
“Archbishop Lwanga was one of his assistants and came with him. I remember he was a very young priest who I think was just 34 years because I’m older than him by 8 years and at that time I was 42. I was to interact with him more when he became Bishop for Kasana-Luwero where he used his salary to start Twekembe which has since grown into a very big microfinance,” Museveni said adding that he liked Lwanga for always prioritizing economic transformation of the people among whom he served.
The man from Rwakitura also saluted Lwanga for being one of those clerics who prayed for and extended moral support to the NRA war others being his boss Cardinal Nsubuga, Prince Badru Kakungulu and Bishop Yona Mukasa and others. That whereas Kakungulu assigned them an Imam (Haruna Senkubuge) who actually died and was buried in the bush during the war, Cardinal Nsubuga (for whom Lwanga was PA) did much more including using his ranch (olusuku lwa Kalidinali) in Kyankwanzi to feed the rebels and the Church-ran dispensaries to enable rebels access basic medicine supplies while leveraging on the network of Catholic parishes.
Gen Museveni also explained why he insisted on a state prayer function for Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. That he wanted to democratize such national recognition which many Ugandans erroneously think should be preserved only for politicians and cultural leaders. That he saw this as an opportunity to popularize a national culture whereby Ugandans must know the value of publicly recognizing the value and contribution of the Church and other religious leaders beyond just politicians.
“It’s also true that we don’t have many Archbishops in the Catholic Church at the level of Dr. Lwanga. There are only four namely the one for the North who is Bishop Odama; for the East who is Emmanuel Obbo; the one for West who used to be Paul Bakyenga now replaced by Bishop Lambert Bainomugisha and the one of Kampala who we are celebrating today,” the President asserted.
Museveni also thanked the Catholic Church leadership and the family members, especially the young Emmanuel Mubiru (a nephew) who closely lived with the Archbishop at his Cathedral residence & who he talked to on phone, for accepting and warming up to his idea of having that public event at Kololo to celebrate the memory of Archbishop Lwanga. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).