By Musasizi Isaac
Hundreds of faithfuls from different parts of the country continue to flock Rubaga Cathedral, the seat of Kampala Archdiocese, to mourn Kampala Archbishop, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga whose sudden death on Saturday continues to raise questions.
Lwanga who has won praise for integral human development and unity with other denominations was found dead in his bedroom.
He has sometimes been a controversial figure in the face of different levels of Ugandans, attracting a love and hate relation from the ruling government and opposition.
Lwanga in an address during celebrations to mark the Catholic Church 24th anniversary of the Day of the Religious at Pope Paul Memorial Hotel on February 14, 2021, at the height of security led abductions, labelled government actions to the authoritarian rule of President Idd Amin who brutality earned him prominence in the books of tyrant.
“I remember when NRM came to power, the President 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, I call upon your government to continue resisting the evil abductions, torture and killings of people,” he said.
Lwanga had on many other occasions criticized government for a failed fight against corruption, a breakdown in the social services sector, a poor human rights record; and during the general election campaigns, he often called the process unfair.
Bobi Wine said “He will be remembered for always speaking out against injustice and oppression. Only yesterday (Friday) as he joined the faithful to celebrate the way of the cross, he raised his voice yet again and condemned the rampant abductions of our people by the state.”
The National Unity Platform (NUP) spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi said “So many questions, yet so few answers. Rest in peace Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga”.
To some government officials including ministers Suubi Kiwanda for tourism and Esther Mbayo for the presidency, the Catholic Church was looked at as siding with Bobi Wine who was a presidential candidate. In fact they blamed the church as part of the reasons why the NRM and president Museveni miserably failed in Buganda region.
In a sermon at Lubaga cathedral, in January 2021 Lwanga attacked government for poor handling of Col. Kiiza Besigye and Bobi Wine.
“After 34 years, you are doing the same things you fought against. The brutality against the Opposition is giving President Museveni a bad name. Brutality should stop, people being beaten are also voters,” he said.
He added; “The President should know that his advisors are misleading him. Dr Besigye used to treat them but now they are mistreating him,” Archbishop Lwanga said in pointing to the role in the 1980-85 guerilla war where Besigye was the President’s personal doctor.
But the opposition also cracked holes in the archbishop with some of them using social media to accuse the prelate of planning a role in poisoning Bobi Wine
“Some people came out to say I and the Catholic Church were plotting to kill Bobi Wine and we would poison him through the Ostia. That was a big allegation, I can’t do that. I am the one who wedded Bobi so that means I have a personal attachment to him. Bobi loves his Church and he should not be made to hate it just like that,” Lwanga said in January this year.
In late December the archbishop read out a statement but on behalf of the Joint Christian Council (UJCC) where he stated that they had agreed to a proposal to postpone elections and amend the constitution to keep Museveni in power for another three years without a popular mandate.
But many members of the opposition showered him with criticism and hateful messages.
However as a religious leader mandated to exercise neutrality, he was misunderstood during his work, a reason why the opposition and the ruling party looked at him the way they decided.
The Archbishop participated in the ecumenical way of the cross at Namirembe Anglican diocese on Good Friday.
News of his death started as a rumor on social media but was later confirmed by Rev. Fr. Pius Male, the Chancellor of Kampala Archdiocese. Thereafter bells started ringing as one of the ways of communicating the sad news to Christians
Edward Ssentongo, an elderly resident at Butikiro road was among the many that came by leaps and bounds after hearing the bells. He says that he knew that these were not the usual bells and rushed to the cathedral to find out what had happened.
Several people including clerics are dashing to the Cathedral both by all means including foot, Boda boda, and private vehicles shedding tears and gathered in the church compound as the bells continued ringing.
John Muwembe Kalanda, one of the contractors at the Archdiocese and personal friend to the deceased Archbishop, says that he was notified by his son who is in Mauritius about his passing and called his sister to confirm the news.
Josephine Nagadya, a volunteer at the church, said that there were suspicious movement of priests around the cathedral from around 10:00 am. At first, she thought that they were arranging for the Easter mass only to learn that the Archbishop had died.
About the deceased
Archbishop Lwanga, 68, has been the third Archbishop of Kampala ever since the Metropolitan see was created in 1966 when the pope merged part of the Diocese of Kampala and the Archdiocese of Rubaga.
Lwanga succeeded Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala in 2006 when the latter resigned after clocking the mandatory 75-years of age. Before his appointment, he had served as the first ordinary of Kasana-Luwero Diocese. Born in 1953, Lwanga attended Kyabakadde Primary School.
He entered Nyenga Seminary in 1964. Between 1972 and 1974, he studied at Katigondo National Major Seminary before joining Ggaba National Seminary for his theological studies. In 1978, he was ordained priest at the age of 25.
The following year, he was admitted at the University of Clermont-Ferrand in France, where he studied administration and languages. Later, he went to the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, where in 1994, he earned a doctorate in Canon Law.
The Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s last words to the nation on Friday were full of encouragement and appeal for behavioral change.
The death announcement comes just hours after the Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, who doubled as the Chairperson of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) preached a message of hope for Uganda after jointly leading the Ecumenical Public Way of the Cross with his Anglican counterpart Dr.Stephen Kaziimba at Namirembe on Friday.
Lwanga together with the Church of Uganda –COU Archbishop Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu and the Bishop of Namirembe Diocese Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira led Christians to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus.
At the event, Lwanga explained the importance of commemorating Good Friday, a day observed during the Holy Week preceding Easter Sunday when Jesus resurrected.
“Easter gives us a hope of restoration and it is the basis of our faith in God’s might power to bring back to life what has been snatched by the devil,” he said. “Even in the midst of death, the death of a loved one, a relative, a friend and all the consequences of there is hope for our resurrection and restoration.”
He encouraged Christians to have hope and strength as they celebrate Easter.
Archbishop Lwanga also explained the purpose of UJCC, an ecumenical organization that was established in 1963.The current membership of UJCC comprises the Church of Uganda, The Roman Catholic Church and the Uganda Orthodox Church, which together constitute about 78% of Uganda’s population.
While delivering the UJCC joint Easter message at Namirembe, Lwanga said that as shepherds and senior citizens of the country, they were deeply concerned about the actions of some security personnel in relation to the ongoing disappearance of people especially the youth.
Lwanga also noted actions of some Ugandans who have been killing innocent people. He cited the case of Musa Musasizi, the prime suspect in murder of four Kasubi women and a three months old baby.
Lwanga then appealed to Ugandans to respect life and all other human rights.
The late Archbishop also noted that religious leaders are called upon to strengthen the spiritual and moral fiber of the nation so that everybody lives in obedience to God.
“Shun violence, hatred and all other forms of immorality; we also call to lead by good example and sow seeds of justice and peace and awaken society whenever it deviates from these ideals,” said Lwanga.
He also said that UJCC was greatly concerned with matters of peace and consensus building, conflict transformation, mediation, negotiation, democracy and good governance in the country.
“With profound grief, I have learnt of the death of Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.” He said adding “I join the Catholic Church, all religious faithful, and the country in mourning Archbishop Lwanga. He has died in faith. May God grant his soul eternal repose.”
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