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Saint Apolo from Europe, or “What's in a Luganda Name?”1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2008


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Research Article
Copyright © American Society of Church History 2008

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2 Apolo is the name used in Congo and Uganda with affection and reverence when referring to Apolo Kivebulaya by only one name. This usage is followed here.

3 “The term ‘Kive’ in Luganda is derived from the Luganda verb ‘Okuva,’ which means ‘to come from.’ The infix ‘bu’ is a marker of size. Thus, ‘Kive’ the one ‘bu’ from big ‘laaya’ Europe (Britain)”: Isaac Kakange, personal communication. “Ebulaya” can be used loosely to mean “western” or “foreign” or a particular foreign country.

4 For example, V. Y. Mudime, The Invention of Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988); and Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution, Volume 1: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

5 For example, Paul Landau, The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1995); and J. D. Y. Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).

6 Kevin Ward, A History of Global Anglicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 166.

7 S. R. Karugire, A Political History of Uganda (Nairobi: Heinemann, 1980), 62–92.

8 See Peter Williams, “‘Not Transplanting’: Henry Venn's Strategic Vision,” in The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799–1999, ed. Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 147–172.

9 Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450–1950 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994), 468.

10 A. K. Diary, 1910, Makerere University library archives, Kampala.

11 A. K. Diary, 1916: “I was born during the campaign of Pokino Mukasa, which was at Busongoza. My father, Samueri Sarongo, Kisangi, of the Nvuma clan. And my mother is Nalongo Tezira Singabadda of the Ngabi clan, a daughter of the princess line.” Pokino Mukasa was the county chief of Buddu during the 1870s, one of three immediately under the kabaka of Buganda.

12 J. J. Willis in Forward to A. B. Lloyd, Apolo of the Pygmy Forest (London: CMS, 1923).

13 A. B. Fisher in Anne Luck, African Saint, The Story of Apolo Kivebulaya (London: SCM, 1963), 102.

14 Quarterly Meeting of Standing Committee, 6 July 1933, box AR N3/10 NAC Church Council Minute Books.

15 A. B. Lloyd, Apolo of the Pygmy Forest; More About Apolo (London: CMS, 1928); Apolo the Pathfinder—Who Follows? (London: CMS, 1934); W. J. Roome, Apolo, The Apostle to the Pygmies (London: Morgan & Scott, 1934); P. Yates, Apolo in Pygmyland (London: Highway, 1940); Margaret Sinker, Into the Great Forest (London: Highway, 1950); Luck, African Saint.

16 Forward to Luck, African Saint, 12.

17 The Ministre des Colonies sent a circular letter to the provinces warning of the Protestant tendency to “organize indigenous churches, independent of the authority and control of missionaries from the white race.” The administrator of Ituri reported back that Apolo was the only African church leader among the Protestant missions in the area and that he would be “particularly observed”: Quoted in G. Samba, “Tolérance religieuse et Intérêts politiques belges au Kibali-Ituri (1900–1940),” Etudes Zaïroises 1 (1973): 106. Translation mine.

18 A. T. Schofield, Memories of Apolo Kivebulaya (unpublished, 1958), 5; Ruth Fisher in African Saint, 62–63.

19 For more on the IBEAC and the political turmoil, see Michael Twaddle, Kakungulu & the Creation of Uganda, 1868–1928 (London: James Currey, 1993), 71f.

20 Fisher mentions him wearing it at his ordination, and Schofield saw it in the 1920s, although photographs taken later in Apolo's life suggest that he is wearing an ordinary dark European jacket by that time.

21 Georgy Schofield, Memories of Apolo Kivebulaya (unpublished 1958), 2.

22 Hastings, Church in Africa, 477.

23 Linda B. Arthur, “Introduction: Dress and the Social Control of the Body,” in Religion, Dress and Body, ed. Linda B. Arthur (Oxford: Berg, 1999), 6.

24 “A learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately … he was a great help to those who by grace believed … proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 19:24–28).

25 Twaddle, Kakungulu, 109.

26 Ruth Fisher in African Saint, 62–63.

27 Peel, The Making of the Yoruba, 216.

28 Hastings, Church in Africa, 477.

29 Louise Pirouet, Black Evangelists: The Spread of Christianity in Uganda, 1891–1914 (London: Rex Collings, 1978), 195.

30 A. K. Diary, 3 June 1925.

31 Peel, The Making of the Yoruba, 9, 17.

32 It is unclear how many years later Apolo wrote this section.

33 Bishop Aberi Balya's Account of Apolo Kivebulaya (unpublished, 1950?), 6, 17.

34 Aberi Balya's Account, 5.

35 A. T. Schofield, Memories, 3.

36 A. K. Diary, 1899.

37 Titre Ande, “Modern African View of Power: A Parody and Pitfall for Prophetic Ministry,” Conference of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on Mission and Non-Western Church History, Edinburgh 2002, 1–2.

38 Terence Ranger, “Religion in Africa: Mission Christianity,” 4 October 2005, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies,

39 Sedulaka Zabunamakwata and Petero Nsugba worked in Boga for a few months in 1896, but strained relations with Omukama Tabaro curtailed their stay. They had laid the groundwork for Apolo.

40 Church of Uganda archives, 2bp10.1, report 1931.

41 A. K. Diary, 18 September 1924.

42 However, any British security they may have hoped for was rather short-lived because Boga came under Belgian control in 1910.

43 Isingoma Kahwa Henri, “La notion Traditionnelle de la Communauté en Afrique Noire et son intergrations dans la Vie Ecclesiale (Cas de Banyoro en Republique du Zaïre),” (Master's diss., Bangui, 1989), 31. My translation.

44 Ibid., 31.

45 For example, Victor Turner, The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual (London: Cornell University Press, 1967), and Anita Jacobson-Widding, Red-White-Black as a Mode of Thought: A Study of Triadic Classification by Colours in the Ritual Symbolism and Cognitive Thought of the Peoples of the Lower Congo (Uppsala: Uppsala University Press, 1979).

46 Red and white do have significance for the people along the Semeliki plain and escarpments among whom Apolo worked, but my research so far has not ascertained the details of that significance nor whether the color needed to take a certain form or be linked to a particular ritual before it gained that significance.

47 Basimasi Kyakuhaire, early catechist in Boga, interview in Komanda, Swahili, 21 September 2000.

48 In West African Christianity: The Religious Impact (London: Hurst, 1983), 127f., Lamin Sanneh highlights the desirability for Africans of education as “the gateway to a new and secure future.”

49 Basismasi Kyakuhaire interview.

50 African Saint, 70, recounted by Ibrahimu Katalibara.

51 A. K. Diary, 18 March 1914.

52 A. K. Diary, 1 January 1916.

53 W. A. Anderson, The Church in East Africa 1940–1974 (Dodoma: Central Tanganika Press, 1988), 23.

54 Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa from Antiquity to the Present (London: SPCK, 1995),147.

55 Ndahura Bezaleri, “L'Implantation de l'Anglicanisme au Zaire, 1896–1972,” (Master's diss., Protestant Faculty of Kinshasa, 1974), 60.

56 Tito Balinda, clergyman, interview in Boga, Swahili, 2 October 2000.

57 Bénézet Bujo, African Theology (Nairobi: St. Paul Publications, 1992), 20–21.

58 Landau, The Realm of the Word, xviii.