On Saturday, the news of the sudden death of Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga shocked the country and world at large, especially Christians.
Lwanga, who was found dead in his room on Saturday morning, managed to leave behind a big legacy.
Starting out as a priest in 1978 at Rubaga Cathedral, a position he served in for 18 years, Lwanga was in 1996 elevated to Bishop and consequently appointed the new Bishop for the newly created Kasana-Luweero diocese.
Kasana-Luweero and Lugazi dioceses were new dioceses that had been carved out of Kampala Archdiocese under the leadership of Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala.
He served as Luweero Bishop for 10 years until 2006 when he was appointed the third Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kampala to succeed Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala who had retired.
Cardinal Wamala had in 1990 succeeded Cardinal Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga who was the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kampala since 1966.
Whereas his two predecessors cum mentors had been elevated to the Consistory or College of Cardinal, Lwanga never reached this feat.
In the Roman Catholic Church, a consistory is a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals called by the pope and there are two kinds of consistories including the extraordinary and ordinary consistories.
An “extraordinary” consistory is held to allow the pope to consult with the entire membership of the College of Cardinals.
An “ordinary” consistory is ceremonial in nature and attended by cardinals resident in Rome.
Consequently, Cardinal Nsubuga as part of the Consistory took part in two Conclaves to elect Pope John Paul 1 and Pope John Paul II, both functions held in 1978 after Pope John Paul I passed on, 33 days after becoming the pope.
Cardinal Wamala participated in the 2005 Conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI while Archbishop Lwanga was never able to reach this feat.
However, Lwanga was on equal terms with his two predecessors in terms of hosting the Pope.
Nsubuga hosted the Pontiff in July 1969 and Wamala in February 1993, Lwanga reached the same feat in November 2015 when Pope Francis visited Uganda.
Cardinal Nsubuga is credited with building the Namugongo Catholic shrine but Lwanga expanded it to give it its current beautiful look, a legacy that will always always be attached to his name.
Under Dr.Cyprian Lwanga’s reign, the centre of power shifted and three more Archdioceses were created in Gulu, Tororo and Mbarara.
This meant Kampala lost some of its influence as the “leader” of the Catholics in Uganda and some sentiments about this became pronounced during the 2015 visit by the Pope.
Calling out government excesses
Like his predecessors who were celebrated for always calling out government excesses, Dr.Cyprian Kizito Lwanga as the Kampala Archbishop also took the same direction.
Cardinal Nsubuga was confronted with the 1966 crisis, the Amin presidency, post-Amin uncertainty and the Luweero triangle war that brought the current government to power and he always spoke out against excesses.
Cardinal Wamala openly and unequivocally pushed for the return of multiparty politics, promoted human rights, and spoke against government excesses in equal measure.
The story was not different for Dr. Lwanga who until the very last hour called out government excesses.
He openly pushed for “Federo” just like Cardinal Wamala did. In fact, he was said Uganda should consider having the “Vatican arrangement” with Buganda, having a state within a state.
In 2018, Lwanga accused government of recruiting priests to spy on religious leaders; especially those it thought were vocal.
While giving his Easter sermon at the Rubaga cathedral in Kampala, the man of God said he could not mince words about something he knew was the truth.
“Some of them have guns and come with them to church. They should stop or else we shall be forced to have everyone checked before coming here,” Lwanga said.
“Let government have the courage to call Ntagali (for protestants ), myself or Mubajje (for muslims) and tell us the information they have about ourselves but some of those you recruit have been expelled from the church and are only giving you false information. They will lead to your downfall,” a passionate Lwanga preached.
In November 2020, following the deadly protests after the arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi, Lwanga preached the gospel of love and peace.
“Wherever you intend to fire bullets or hurl teargas canisters, ask yourself if it suits the motto, ‘For God and My Country. Let us always remember that God wants nothing from us but peace and all of us should strive to have that peace but not violence,” he said.
Lwanga also called out government on kidnaps and torture.
“I remember when NRM came to power, the President (Museveni) said they came to resist the politics and leadership of Idi Amin and Milton Obote regimes. If this is still the same National Resistance Movement (NRM), I call upon your government to continue resisting the evil abductions, torture and killings of people,”Lwanga said in February.
Indeed, at his last public appearance during the way of the cross, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga as the chairman of the Uganda Joint Christian Council(UJCC) called out security agencies on kidnaps.
“We are deeply concerned about the actions of some security agencies in relation to the disappearance of some of our people, especially youths. This is brewing anger, division, fear and anxiety within the population,”Lwanga said.
“It totally contravenes the human rights frameworks to which we are signatory as a country. We are troubled that such a disregard of these God-given rights and freedoms shall weaken our social linkup of harmony, social cohesion and responsive leadership.”