According to Twaddle the
groupings of Muslims and Christian within these four chieftaincies led to an
increase in insecurity within the Buganda kingdom which in turn introduced an
“unpredictable element” into the Bugandan political scene under the reign of
Mwanga (Twaddle 58). Within Buganda, there arose four favored chieftaincies: those
of Ekisalosalo, Eggwanika, Ekiwuliriza, and Ekijasi (Twaddle 57). These
chieftaincies were given various rights and privileges by Mwanga seemingly
without end. Other Bugandans began moving into these three chieftaincies and
brought their guns with them, a commodity that was quickly become more and more
accessible. These three kingdoms became more and more powerful and gained
substantial amounts of firepower. These chieftaincies, now powerful well-armed and
given preferential treatment, became quite a powerful force. Furthermore, many
of the people living in them and in many parts of Buganda had memories of
severe persecution in the not so distant past.
them were many Christians whose loyalty to the state had not always been of the
first priority. Fearing a potential challenge to his reign, Mwanga demanded
that Christians within Buganda apostatize or face the consequences. Many
refused to do so. As a result, Mwanga did just what his father had done when
his authority was challenged by Muslims, he launched a wave of persecution. In
1886 Mwanga gathered together around fifty Christians who were taken to
Namugongo and executed, including many members of his own court. This would
later prove to be a grave political mistake which would have far-reaching
consequences for both Mwanga and the future of the Buganda Kingdom.
first coup to shake the Buganda state occurred in 1888 after concerns by
leading chiefs that they would be lead to their death should they embark on a
planned raiding expedition. The instigators of this plot were the Muslim
leaders Muguluma and Kapalaga, who did their best to rally Christian chiefs and
clans to their banner. This task was not always easy as Catholic and Protestant
missionaries were encouraging their converts not to participate in the
revolution but instead to flee from Buganda. At the time of the revolution,
there were many Christians within Buganda who favored this option. Without
pressure from Muslim leaders it is doubtful whether Christian chiefs would have
taken part in the coup at all (Twaddle 61). However, in the end, Christians
agreed to take up arms and Mwanga was overthrown in a lighting-like
coup that would usher in an era of quick royal succession and religious tension
not previously seen in Buganda.
on the Buganda throne would be Kiwewa, something of a Luke-warm Muslim. He like
other Kabakas before him refused to be circumcised which did not exactly endear
him to many Muslim members of his court, already upset that their victory had
not given them a greater hold over the government. It did not take long for
this alliance between Christians and Muslims to deteriorate. Many Christians
among the Buganda court and elsewhere who had been practicing in secret amidst
fears of renewed persecution now declared themselves openly. Muslims in Buganda
began to worry that their own position may be threatened by this substantial
increase in Christians. Muslim control over the Kabaka was not unassailable due
to luke-warm Kiwewa, combined with a growing number of Christians the Muslim
power dynamic, so short-lived, was now under threat. In the October of 1888,
this growing rift between Muslims and Christians would explode once again into
bloody civil strife and see Kiwewa wrenched from his still warming throne.
schools of thought, most of which are conjecture, attempt to explain what
happened on that fateful day. Christian sources, mainly from missionaries in
Buganda at the time, claim that Arabs began whispering in the ears of Muslims
in the Kabaka encouraging them to attack Christians and remove them from
positions of power. Wanting to reserve rule of Buganda to Muslims alone.
Another explanation states that Muslims had requested that the position of
palace cook be awarded to a Muslim so that he could properly prepare the food
so as to be fit for Muslims consumption. This was originally agreed to, however,
“a Christian chief Antoni Dungu, insisted on having the post of kauta (cook) and
threatened to fight for it. While both sides were discussing his ultimatum, one
of Dungu’s pages stabbed the Muslim chief Sirimani Lubanga to death” (Oded 16).
However it began it was not a battle that the Christians were destined to win.
In his Muslim Revolution in Buganda
Twaddle explains what most probably happened according to an eyewitness. A
Christian chief Nyonyintono overheard that he was to be replaced as the first
minister by Muguluma. Rumors of Muslim soldiers forming around the capital also
began to reach him just as two Muslim subordinates pointed their guns at him
laughing, followed by a mock salute (Twaddle 65). Throughout the course of the
fight broke out in court, which then turned into a Muslim Christian brawl.
Several Christian chiefs not wanting a bloodbath fled the country. Christian
missionaries on the advice of Arab traders in the country were put in prison
and were later released and forced to leave along with other Buganda Christians
who had initially stayed behind.