Death marked the beginning of martyrdom in the Anglican Church

Sheila Tusiime Mugisha

The story of the birth of the Anglican Church takes you to a small cave in Natete which was also the beginning of martyrdom in Uganda.

This was the home to Alexander Mackay,a missionary who started to preach the gospel in areas of Natete and Busega.

The works of this great missionary are still celebrated along with the three first martyrs who were killed under his discipleship.

When you speak of the journey of the Anglican martyrs, one must talk about the founders and its then that the name Alexander Mackay comes to light

We took a journey to Nateete, and later down to the famous Mackay cave..

And here a story is told of how Mackay arrived in Uganda in 1877 following Kabaka Mutesa 1’s request to the Queen of England to teach Christianity.

On his arrival, Mackay met the Kabaka at his palace on Lubaga Hill where he was given a place to stay. Later on, he was sent to Nateete after the Kabaka learnt that he was using a binocular to view the proceedings in the palace.

In 1879, Mackay assembled the first printing press in Uganda and printed the gospel of St Mathew and other materials he used to teach Christianity, reading and writing.

It is said that after the death of Kabaka Mutesa I, an event that ushered in the era of Kabaka Mwanga, the relationship between the kingdom and missionary went sour, and so  Mackay dug a cave of 150metres below his quarters where he would hide to teach Christianity and formal education.

The small cave Mackay dug

Just below the cave is a spring dug by Mackay. This is where he could fetch water and was also a source of water for the surrounding villages as he watched over them from the wall engraving.

This well was also used to persuade people into Christianity. The cave was strategically dug facing the well to enable him talk to people who would come to fetch water.

He would persuade them to enter the cave so he could teach them Christianity and formal education.

It is believed that this tree which stood and still stands next to the cave is where the Christians would stand while Mackay was preaching to make sure and also alert the rest if any of the king’s guards was coming.

As the saying goes that every thief has 40 days, on this particular day, one of the people that Mackay used to teach tipped-off Kabaka Mwanga that the Muzungu was there teaching Christianity.

The Kabaka ordered a man known as Mukajanga to go and arrest them.

They arrested three converts. Mackay managed to escape through the tunnel to the nearby village and later went to Tanganyika.

“This is where the three young boys; Mako Kakuumbi 16, Yusuf Lugalama 12 and Nuwa Sserwanga 19 were picked by Kabaka Mwanga’s chief executor, Mukajanga and taken to the nearby swamp in Busega, Mpima erebera on Masaka Road, where they were burnt alive

Busega church of Uganda was built just a few meter from here in memory of these martyrs

Teir remains were carried to Namirembe cathedral. And this marked the beginning of Uganda martyrs.

Where the remains of these martyrs are laid in Namirembe, is still held a historical site, where few people that come to view but also say a prayer

The Busega church still hold treasure to some of the belongings of Alexander Mackay like the stool he sat on while he preached the gospel

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