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On 29 June 1931 Kivebulaya spoke at the prestigious King's College at Budo, created by CMS to educate the sons of chiefs. His aim was to recruit youthful volunteers, like Reuben Kakonge who had arrived in Mboga from Budo in 1925 to help Kivebulaya maintain his gruelling schedule of missionary journeys in his old age. Kivebulaya's speech, reported at length in Ebifa by Enoka Mulira, has the hallmarks of a missionary address. In it he addressed the prejudices of his audience by speaking favourably of Mbuti cleanliness, monogamy and men’s respect for their wives, whilst playing upon audience fascination for the exotic by describing the short stature of the Wam, their tree-climbing and snake-eating. He presented a positive view of life and culture in the Ituri forest and contrasted it with aspects of Ganda culture that he disliked. This speech (examined later in the chapter) also reinforces the picture presented by Kivebulaya's daily diary entries of almost constant travel. In Ituri he visited forest villages to preach, teach, pray, give medicine and aid the construction of church buildings, before returning to Mboga to teach at the girls’ and boys’ schools. Most destinations were no further than sixty miles from Mboga but they were reached by foot. Several times a year Kivebulaya descended the Semiliki escarpment, crossed the plain and ascended to Fort Portal and to Kampala for church meetings and missionary talks. Baganda and CMS admirers portrayed Kivebulaya's missionary work as remote and exotic. Yet they also understood it as part of a global network of mission work to all nations. Some of the aspiring young Protestant men at King’s College, Budo were inspired to follow Kivebulaya's missionary example (see Chapter 1). Kivebulaya was held in high regard at the school. Staff and students prayed for Kivebulaya's mission, and students enacted his work in Ituri.
This penultimate chapter examines four mediating roles of Kivebulaya’s last years – itineration, healing, race relations and translation. By the time of his death, they had already sealed Kivebulaya's reputation in Ituri, in Buganda and in Britain as a great Ganda missionary, as Great-heart, Christ-like, and an Apostle. Kivebulaya's ability to operate in complex webs of authority facilitated his mediating role.
‘What worries the ant hunter,’ wrote Kivebulaya in his diary in Butiti in 1901, ‘is not having the knowledge about the inside of the [ant hill], or the heavens, or the storm, or the ants themselves.’ By comparing missionary work to the search for a local delicacy, Kivebulaya acknowledged the necessity of attending to the environment and behaviour of those he wished to evangelise. He expressed anxiety when his audiences were unreceptive to his message. ‘It was my habit to always be worried inside my soul. Whenever people did not come to Church, I would not eat food well but [would be] worrying.’ Nevertheless, he felt happy to be in Toro, ‘I explored the happiness that is in preaching the gospel, which is better than any other happiness.’ His pride in his role of teacher was mingled with the fear that the perceptions of his audience and his communication skills would limit his ability to transmit the Christian message and so effect religious change.
This chapter examines Kivebulaya's first decade in Toro (1895–1905). It places him within changing socio-political structures and explores the cultural assumptions that influenced the reception or rejection of new, imported ideas and practices that came most directly from Europe but were now mediated by Baganda emissaries. The chapter begins by situating Kivebulaya's role within Kasagama's ambitions to create a unified Christian kingdom following the Buganda example. It examines Kivebulaya's journeys to the peripheries of the kingdom (the accounts of which form the majority of his writings) and analyses the reception of Kivebulaya's mission beyond the centre of the kingdom and the church at Kabarole. Events articulated by Kivebulaya as a spiritual struggle to establish a conducive environment for the reception of God's word provide evidence of resistance to the religious and social change that Kivebulaya advocated. It is apparent that his preaching was contested and questioned, that many were indifferent, ambivalent or hostile but the historical sources provide limited insight into these reactions. Kivebulaya's mission was entangled in Kasagama's political vision for a united Toro under his rule and must be understood in this context – but it was not confined to this vision. Kivebulaya's shift in religious allegiance, observed in the previous chapter, was consolidated in Toro. His missionary impulses were honed through a profound spiritual experience and his acceptance of theological ideas that made sense of the misfortune that befell him.
‘The greed to become a man of God seized me’, recorded Kivebulaya in 1894. He had just returned from fighting in the destructive British-led offensive against the Banyoro and he decided to enrol in the baptismal class. The verb translated as ‘seized’ comes from kukwata, a word that means ‘to touch’, but is frequently used to suggest being caught or overwhelmed. It can mean ‘rape’ and ‘arrest’. It is also one of a number of words used for possession by a spiritual power, hence its use here. Religious engagement – of whatever tradition – could be experienced as being assailed by a passionate conviction. The violence of kukwata’s common usage is also indicative of the circumstances in which Kivebulaya made his slow way towards baptism in the Native Anglican Church. Kivebulaya's gradual interest in Christianity began some time after his move nearer to the capital around the time of the death of Kabaka Mutesa and the succession of Mwanga II in 1884. His autobiography becomes more detailed as it gains pace towards his baptism. It shows how his conversion was enveloped in the highly charged political events of the day. Accounts of soldiering and conflict are juxtaposed with accounts of reading, praying and attending church. Kivebulaya does not dwell on the details of warfare, but he was involved in the violent seizure of lands and people at the same time as he felt compelled to become a Christian. His initially hesitant decisions to read, to study the Bible and to secure a patron are presented as a war-weary counterpoint to violence, but one which, nevertheless had its own forceful compulsion. The autobiography foregrounds novel events and experiences as Kivebulaya committed himself to the Protestant Christian group and became a teacher. His actions ruptured many of the commitments to kin and custom that were discussed in the previous chapter. Yet his response to the fluidity of the societal change he embraced was patterned upon previous social expectations of mukopi displays of honour (ekiitibwa) towards seniors in order to form alliances (okusenga).
The primary role of this chapter is not to retell the well-known history of the era, which has been ably expounded by others. Rather, the chapter examines the motivational force of new religious beliefs and practices in their historic context.
From ‘The Service of Apolo Kivebulaya’ by S. M. K. L. Mukasa.
Canon Apolo Kivebulaya lived and died in the ‘hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’, as he proclaimed in the Nicene Creed each time he took communion. He also had an afterlife in the recollections of his followers and admirers who commemorated his tenacious dissemination of the message of eternal life through Jesus Christ. An analysis of Kivebulaya's life begins with this chapter-length discussion of his memorialisation because it is an inescapable part of his history, and it influences the sources used in the following chapters to reconstruct his life and times. The chapter informs a much larger scholarly debate about the generation of memory and the myth-making of admired individuals and groups that is seen most prominently in the region in the veneration of the Uganda martyrs. Through the examination of the constituencies and the tools of memory construction the chapter reveals a history of difference, of common values and collective identity creation within Christianity in the Great Lakes region and internationally.
Kivebulaya lived on in the plays, songs, stories and poems like the one above, whose eighteen stanzas were printed in the periodical Ebifamu Buganda, three months after his death. Churches and schools are dedicated to ‘Canon Apolo’ or ‘Saint Apolo’ in Congo and Uganda. Their signs are visible on main roads. He appears in stained glass windows in Uganda and Kenya, and on commemorative stamps in Kenya and Tanzania. In Ugandan school textbooks for Religious Studies from primary school through to A level he is the pre-eminent example of African leadership and African mission. Since Uganda has an impressive array of historical Christian figures it is notable that in the textbooks Kivebulaya is mentioned more often than any other individual or group, including the Uganda martyrs, who elsewhere in society have a high profile.
By the mid-1900s Kivebulaya was the senior African clergyman at Kabarole. He had a comfortable standard of living. He felt at home among the Batoro and wanted to become one of them. He had been given the pet name (empako) ‘Apuli’, without which a person is marked as a stranger from the first greeting and, although his Luganda accent could not be concealed, he was, in the words of one CMS missionary, ‘so devoted to the people as to desire to be regarded as naturalised’. Kivebulaya grew up when a modern Ganda identity was emerging but his own sense of self was not fixed there. In contrast to other Baganda teachers and traders who left the kingdom when the Batoro expressed their resentment of Baganda political involvement, Kivebulaya showed his commitment to Toro by translating biblical texts into Runyoro-Rutoro. He had translated St Matthew's Gospel from the Luganda version during his time in Mboga, writing whilst lying on the ground by the fire at night. In 1900 he wrote, ‘I want with all my heart the Old and New Testament in Lunyoro (sic)’. Kivebulaya engaged in the missionary task of inhabiting local thought-forms and of gaining fluency in a vernacular language. Language proficiency was not simply about communication. Missionaries also considered that it enabled the inner transformation that they required of themselves: ‘our hearts … must be one with the hearts we seek’. Kivebulaya deployed empathy and insight to persuade his hearers to change their behaviour in line with the reform introduced by the CMS and the Protestant rulers of Toro.
This chapter examines Kivebulaya's role as senior clergyman within the growing Native Anglican Church, his mediation between the mission station in Kabarole and its satellite stations, and his support of the reform of social behaviour and the emerging social order through his collaboration with CMS missionaries and Omukama Kasagama. It ends with his advocacy for Bible translation as an agent for spiritual and social change and the political directions in which others took his translation. The chapter shows three things: Kivebulaya's role in the development of the Kabarole mission and the Toro kingdom; his involvement in a project of social reform that emerged from the close connection between mission and kingdom; and, finally, the distinct emphases that emerged from social reform as shown in the priorities of Kivebulaya and Kasagama.
Kivebulaya was born ‘Waswa’ – the name for the elder of male twins – in Buganda, during Kabaka (king) Mukabya Mutesa's long reign (1856– 84). His early life was marked by his twin status; ‘They considered us as very important,’ he wrote in his autobiography, ‘twins were carefully looked after because of the customs around them.’ The fear and excitement surrounding the birth of twins he described as follows:
They dug another entrance at the back of the house. The first twin to be born took the first entrance outlet and the next one took that at the back which is just dug…They also beat drums which were known as Entuuyo za balongo (the sweat of the twins). The beats were very different and everyone knew that they were beats of two children. And people danced much as they were happy for getting two children at the same time. It was believed that if the rituals of dancing were skipped, the babies or their parents would die instantly… So that is how my birth was, so frightening!
This passage, and an account of the influence of twins on the family and community, discussed later in the chapter, is one of Kivebulaya’s more detailed descriptions. He gives little information about events of his childhood, although he notes that his parents were married in the reign of Kabaka Sunna (c.1830–56) in the county of Singo and had five living children. However, his short autobiography gives enough information about his background to locate him in a wider history of the Great Lakes. His account moves him from a small village to the capital; from the customs (mpisa) of twins to contact with two cosmopolitan religions (dini); and, eventually, from insecurity to a respected position. It provides the background to the commitments he loosened in order to develop new relationships and affiliations. Kivebulaya and his family were commoners (bakopi) in a hierarchical society at a time when the social situation of bakopi had become particularly precarious. He was formed by clan systems of obligation and honour: systems that were under stress in the mid-nineteenth century, a stress that increased the mobility of Baganda men as they attempted to live up to traditional ideals of masculinity. He was also influenced by an apprenticeship to a healer, something he does not mention in his autobiography.
This biography has woven together a well-sourced empirical analysis of Kivebulaya's life with themes that his life illuminates. It has enabled an examination of historical periods, geographical regions and cultural themes that are often addressed separately. In doing so, it explains social change through the deliberate adoption of Protestant Christianity in East Africa and the much vaunted role of African missionaries. Christian teachers strove to become new men and women by travelling to neighbouring peoples and offering them a new way of living. Kivebulaya varied from his peers in the degree to which he adopted this change and his commitment to persuading others of its value. In focusing upon a figure who embraced evangelical Christianity more completely than many of his contemporaries, this study unambiguously exposes Christianity's motivational force in the reform of self and sociality in the region. Kivebulaya styled himself as a missionary and self-consciously allied himself with a worldwide Protestant movement. He did so on a regional stage and in response to local concerns. Throughout his life, Kivebulaya remained committed to the missionary ideal of Christian conversion and the spread of the Christian church beyond the boundaries of ethno-linguistic groups or colonial state apparatus because he was attracted to a universal organisation that claimed to transcend political, social and racial differences. He utilised novel technologies – literacy, Bible study, bicycles and biomedicine – to convince those around him of the power of a single spiritual being. He was a mild-mannered and self-effacing person who could yet exhibit steely resolve and self-discipline. Studying his life has allowed a re-examination of the connections between local, regional and global appropriation of Christianity. It has revealed the complex, historical particularity of religious change, offering a fine-grained study of the internal reasons why missionary Christianity developed distinct emphases that have influenced the subsequent history of the region. This short concluding chapter revisits some of the major themes.
Religious encounter is based in historic relationships, situations and expectations. The range of responses to encounter – conversion, synthesis, indifference, resistance and so on – are formed of ‘multiple, interactive, and cumulative’ factors. An examination of religious encounter between Great Lakes beliefs and practices, Islam and Christianity has allowed Kivebulaya's motivations, choices and values to emerge, and provided the background to the complex conversion experiences of him and his associates.
‘Apolo left that good place of Butiti and went to live in that horrible place of Mboga for the sake of his work,’ wrote Aberi Balya as he explained the admiration in which Kivebulaya came to be held. ‘He was like Moses as you read in Hebrews 11:24–25,’ Balya continued. ‘Apolo was gifted in many things. He had a gift of choosing difficult jobs and difficult places, which other people could not manage.’ Hebrews 11 is a litany of faithful action by characters in the Old Testament. With its frequent refrain ‘by faith…’ it was one of Kivebulaya's favourite passages. In mentioning it, Balya was also placing Kivebulaya in a biblical list of those to be emulated. This chapter examines Kivebulaya's work in Ituri from 1915. In October 1915 the Native Anglican Church synod granted sabbatical leave to Kivebulaya in Buganda for the year of 1916 from where he intended to visit churches around Uganda to mark his twenty years of service in Toro. In December 1915 Kivebulaya left Butiti, where he was working, but went instead to Mboga. He had wept when he heard that the Mboga church was failing and decided to spend the year's leave supporting the church he had started twenty years previously. In January 1917 he relocated permanently to Mboga. From 1915 until his death in 1933 Kivebulaya resolutely continued his mission westwards, evangelising and planting churches among the Ngiti, Lese, Konjo (Nande), Bwamba (Talinga) and Mbuti peoples, as well as the Runyoro speakers of Mboga (Bahema) in the Ituri district. Having wished to become a ‘naturalised’ Toro citizen he now chose to make his home in Mboga, and he would adopt some of its young people as his children. The decision to forego a sabbatical increased the admiration of CMS missionaries and Ganda Christians alike. They followed with interest Kivebulaya's itineration in the Ituri forest and his engagement with forest peoples.
This chapter shows how Kivebulaya developed his missionary techniques in Ituri and how he restaged Ganda and missionary ideals in a new colonial context. In deciding to work in Congo, Kivebulaya demonstrated his belief in a borderless Kingdom of God that was to be spread regardless of temporal power. At the same time, he could not relinquish the Protestant, Baganda and British influences that had shaped him and his cosmopolitan form of international Christian sociality.
A vivid portrayal of Kivebulaya's life that interrogates the role of indigenous agents as harbingers of change under colonization, and the influence of emerging polities in the practice of Christian faiths.
‘Deeply regret Apolo died May 30’, announced the telegram that arrived in Church Missionary House, London, on 31 May 1933.1 Within twenty-four hours of his death in Mboga, Congo, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) supporters in Britain knew of the passing of Canon Apolo Kivebulaya. The telephone line from Mboga permitted news to travel with speed across the globe from a village still largely accessible only on foot. Kivebulaya was a great admirer of novel technologies and spent a lifetime disseminating them to mountain and forest villages so it was fitting that his friends and collaborators in Britain heard of his death in this way. Revd Aberi Balya, later Bishop in the Church of Uganda, was at Kivebulaya's deathbed. Immediately after the funeral, Balya toured the churches of the Mboga area, to administer communion and comfort the Christians with whom Kivebulaya had spent his last seventeen years. Whilst Mboga grieved, Kivebulaya's admirers in Buganda were already penning obituaries for Matalisi and Ebifa mu Buganda, eulogising his life in prose and poetry for a mourning public. On 1 June Bishop John Jamieson Willis spoke at a memorial service for Kivebulaya in Namirembe Cathedral, Kampala. He compared Kivebulaya's dedication to mission to that of St Paul, saying that he knew of no European or African who exceeded Kivebulaya in endurance and commitment. The large congregation departed with ‘their souls filled with Apolo’. Young men were moved to offer themselves to the Native Anglican Church for missionary service. Blasio Kigozi, whose passionate plea in 1936 for the church to ‘Awake!’ would influence a widespread renewalist movement known as the East African Revival, was among those who hoped to emulate Kivebulaya. Retired CMS missionary, Albert B. Lloyd, responded to the news of his friend's death by returning to Africa and taking up Apolo's mantle as missionary in Ituri for a year. From Mboga, Lloyd completed the third of his popular biographical accounts of Apolo’s life, Apolo the Pathfinder: Who Follows? (1934), portraying Apolo as an exemplary missionary whom British Christians should emulate. For all these men, Kivebulaya was a prime example of one whose ‘self’ was so ordered that he gave self-less service to Christ, so to show a new way of patterning communal life.