The very first-ever visit by the Holy See to Africa was in Uganda in 1969, it was not by chance! Uganda is a highly religious country with its motto For God and My Country.
Ugandan religions are headed by two contrary denominations that have been at war over power since the days of colonialism.
This dates back to the 1865 religious wars that were partaken by Catholics and Anglicans on one end, with all trying to place themselves in the center of influence for the affairs of Buganda under Mutesa.
Unfortunately for both, Mutesa picked Muslims ahead because they could provide firearms.
Catholics retreated and set camp at Kagei where they would silently start courting Kabaka Mwanga who would come after Mutesa.
With Mutesa’s death in 1884, it took the catholic church only one year to hold influence, and here they started preaching democracy and respect for God as the ultimate authority- away with traditional power rule.
Mwanga was not willing to take it, he ordered executions of catholic leaders to return his fear and respect. He needed to show he is in charge.
Mwanga also ordered that every Muganda denounce religion. Alas, he was in for a shock and the defiance is what culminated in the Namugongo Martyrs inferno.
Religion was beginning to make its mark on the politics of this country and the two competing sides (Catholic, Islam, and Anglicans) organized a coup against Mwanga in 1888.
Mwanga fled and encamped at Bukumbi, but the groups that took power would not hold it, they were soon in their squabbles, and the Muslims overthrew both Anglicans and Catholics again.
To mark their territory, the Muslims ordered for an Islamic state and ensured the circumcision of Mwanga’s successor- Kabaka Kalema, whom they named Sheikh.
The Christians lobbied their way back in and with the help of Imperial British East African Company (IBEACO) would overthrow the Muslims and drive them to Bunyoro.
Soon, the Catholics were unhappy, because by fact that the British had helped meant that the overall victory belonged to Anglicans again another quarrel ensued and it would be settled by Frederic Lugard who directed his machine gun to the Catholics and sent them dispersing in what came to be known as the religious wars of 1892.
The Anglicans distributed to themselves political power and consumed a lion share leaving a few crumbs for Catholics and Muslims, here is where the two Christian faiths managed to have churches across hills and their songs and drumming was a reply to each other.
The sound of drums by Anglicans would sound; “Ffe twakilya (we ate it)” while the Catholics would drum in reply; “Tulilya edda” (We shall eat in future)”.
By the time of independence, Ugandan parties were founded along with these two religious’ sects with the Democratic Party popularly known as Diini Ya Paapa (Religion of the Pope) while the Uganda People’s Congress was known as the United Protestants of Canterbury (the sitting of Anglicans).
The essence was to ensure that the Anglicans remain in power, while the Catholics keep their vow to gain it. Notwithstanding, the parties served other interests of ethnicity, etc.
However, for all the time, protestants (Anglicans) ensured they remained in power, and not at any time did a catholic rise to lead the country
Well aware of the rules of the game, Museveni was clever and swift, he moved to change the system to a multi-party one and this weakened the religious politics and the politics of sectarianism. It was finally okay to be a Muganda catholic and not in DP but in the movement.
He would soon allow freedom of religion, where the kanisa ze biwempe (Born again Christians) and traditionalists found themselves catered for and soon the Catholics were dissuaded from their interests to overthrow the Anglicans.
In no time Museveni was open to religious funding across all sects; Muslim leaders, Catholics, Anglicans, etc are cruising in government donated V8s, while he is always at a church fundraiser.
Museveni has for a long time managed to hold all religious groups together with a financial glue, he is their go-to man. At one time when Muslims seemed to be going ‘astray,’ he showed up waving a land title for one of the mosques whose land had caused controversy.
When Catholics were running away, he cornered Archbishop Lwanga and they agreed for the good of the church.
Lwanga however must have made enough enemies within the church, that his closeness with Museveni has been one away; it has allowed Museveni to concentrate on Lwanga and abandon the rest of the priests on one end.
Plus, the priests of today, are far different from those of 10 years ago, these ones have access to WhatsApp, and have more concentration now in seeing how far their homilies go across the social media platforms.
There is no doubt that social media made Fr Kiibi Katerega whose marvelous homily during the requiem mass of late singer Moses Ssekibogo alias Moze Radio was the talk of the town.
Fr Kiibi has now become the most preferred priest to oversee a eucharistic celebration for any faithful or not. He has even become one person you can invite for motivational speeches.
Hence, while the biggest percentage of people on social media express dissatisfaction with Museveni and his regime, and the young priests continue to study their homilies are most likely to swing faster when the side of the ‘alleged oppressed’ becomes the topic, it becomes very easy for them to wax lyrical.
The catholic church priests have now found a key entry to their bargain, leave Lwanga on one side and go with the bandwagon they can satisfy on social media. Like one of the priests in Masaka said; “tugenda na ba myaka gyaffe”
Museveni’s mistake has remained one, he has kept abandoning young people even in religious circles, these are now the recently ordained catholic priests who after church, want to watch their homily shared in different social media groups, they see themselves as the new ‘Lwangas in the near future”, they are in the struggle on one end. They are the priests who are done with the lectionary, they want to read from the book of the people.
In the same context, the catholic church young priests have without directly realizing bounced back to demand what was started in the 1880s.
All these were embedded in a song composed in the catholic church: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged!”