KABALE– The Diocese of Kigezi which covered the greater Kigezi and had a big influence on Rwanda, Congo and Burundi in evangelicalised as it was the route for most Missionaries who evangelicalised these countries. These countries were under the Uganda Anglican Church Province.
The archdeaconry like Seseme which is now Muhabura Diocese, had more Missionaries than other churches in Kigezi as Missionaries wanted to be close to Rwanda and Congo. As a result, Seseme produced more priests at the time in the Diocese of Kigezi who played a big part in the evangelisation in Kigezi. Muhabura later produced one of the most outstanding bishop in Africa Rt. Rev Ernest Nsharita who set a solid foundation of the Diocese.
Muhabura later produced more bishops who served in different parts of Uganda and today. Today, Muhabura Diocese has more priests working in different credible organisations including the World Bank based in USA.
Unlike other Dioceses, the first bishop of the Diocese of Kigezi was Rt. Rev. Richard Edward Lyth who worked as the headmaster of the famous Kigezi High School. Being a British and having worked close to the church for a long time, he was deeply rooted in Kigezi and still connected to the United Kingdom. The bishop opened Kigezi to the global community and attracted quality and competent missionaries who were experts in different displines.
Despite opening the church to the global missionary community, Bakiga were hard working and committed Christians who created a good working environment for Missionaries and other development partners.
From the start, the Diocese of Kigezi was never interrupted like other Dioceses in Uganda which had the influence of kingdoms. Some kingdoms had big influence on the church in their territory. Even when the Witchcraft Act was introduced by the government, Kigezi performed best in it’s implementation. This brought the Diocese closer to government than other Dioceses and became the first closest government partner in Uganda.
This good working relationship with the government created a good environment for Missionaries. The partnership of government, Missionaries and committed hardworking honest Bakiga created a big brand which was not anywhere in Uganda. The Diocese of Kigezi emerged as the pillar in Uganda and became a model and demonstration centre for most projects in Uganda, Africa and globally.
The Diocese of Kigezi became a an innovation and incubation centre for most projects both government and the private sector. The Diocese attracted the attention of the country and all it’s projects shined and excelled. This created a positive impact on its members Christians and beyond. There were so many projects, programs and activities and among them, ten emerged to be the best which made the Diocese one of the most outstanding Dioceses in Uganda.
The Diocese has kept on top because of these services which are enjoyed by all church denominations. This has also enabled the government extend it’s services through the church to Christians. Kigezi Research Desk has gone deeper to find more about these things which made the Diocese outshine and the findings are so surprising as presented below:
The Diocese of Kigezi combined mission and development and this enabled it to touch and change so many lives. The evangelisation went hand in hand with development and most priests lived by example in terms of development. At the earliest stage, the Diocese established income generating projects which included commercial vehicles and agriculture projects.
The quality of education in Uganda started on Rugarama hill and most great leaders in Uganda were mentored at Rugarama. Kabale Preparatory School commonly known as KPS, has been the model school for ages in Uganda and most presidents in Uganda like president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Idi Amin, Million Obote and other great leaders like Appolo Nsibambi and others educated their children at KPS. Today the school is still the centre of quality education in Uganda.
Kigezi High School has been the brand name for Uganda for ages when it comes to qualify education in Uganda. It has produced great leaders from Kigezi and beyond who are shaping the world through their high leadership positions. Kigezi High School Primary School is another school where quality and excellent education has stood for a test of time. Horny Girls School is among schools in Kigezi which pioneered girls education. Rugarama Nursing School is producing more nurses who are relavant in the health sector.
Bishop Barham Divinity college which is now a fully fledged university, played a big role in educating priests in Uganda and beyond. Some bishops in South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi are products of the college. All these schools are at one hill Rugarama surrounding the famous St Peters Cathedral. This set up of education institutions is not any in Uganda and maybe hard to find on the African continent.
These education institutions are at one hill Rugarama and other Diocesan schools and institutions are scattered in different parts of the Diocese educating children of all denominations while partnering with the ministry of education and sports and other education agencies like Compassion International.
St Peters Cathedral Cathedral at Rugarama is an African model Cathedral and from the begging, it had a model church in the days when most Dioceses had not built modern churches. The cathedral did not stand alone but also built modern houses which hosted priests and the church staff.
The Diocese of Kigezi priests enjoyed best accommodation housed in modern houses with modern facilities than anywhere and were enough to cater for all. Some of these houses were turned into offices and others given to the university staff which was another added advantage to the university. More modern and spacious houses have been built at Rugarama hill. This arrangement kept high esteem of priests and the staff and also attracting competent workers on the hill.
Rt. Rev Festo Kivengere the second Diocesan bishop played a big part in the development of the Diocese and his actions put it at the global map. He was a seasoned preacher of the time and a greater orator who the world demanded to reach out to most countries across the globe. He made Kigezi Diocese shine globally. He was over stretched in serving the Diocese when he became a global spiritual brand. He was the first bishop in Uganda to be given an assistant bishop. Rt Rev. Dr. William Rukirande worked as his assistant and after his death, he was elected the third bishop of the Diocese.
Kivengere also started African Evangelistic Enterprises (AEE) which focused on mission and development. He started AEE in 1971 which is still one of the christian organisations changing lives in Uganda. He was among the people who fled the country when Amin demanded spiritual accountability in Uganda. He later wrote a book “I Love Idi Amin” which sold million of copies globally.
One of the most outstanding activities of the Diocese of Kigezi was the Revival Movement. It started at Gahini in Rwanda and came to Kigezi. It started in Rwanda around 1920 but bacame more popular in 1930s when most Christians embraced it. In 1936 the famous and the first Revival Convention was hosted by the Diocese of Kigezi at Rugarama hill. The life changing convention, branded Kigezi as the home of Born Agains (Abarokore) and the revival sparked off from Kigezi to the whole world.
The revival movement played a big role in saving souls and the world focussed on Kigezi for salvation. It is during this time when shrines and witches were totally burnt as people waited for the coming of Jesus.
The theme song of the convention “Tukutendereza Yesu Omusayi gunaziza…..) which is sang globally to all church denominations, was first sang at Rugarama hill and today the convention centre is there which holds the ten years l revival convention and annual conventions. The ten years convention is still one of the biggest convention in Uganda.
It is always said that health is wealth. The Diocese of Kigezi scored highly in health projects and became the pioneer of credible health centres in Uganda. For a long time, it had the monopoly of private health Centers in Kigezi with Kisizi and Rugarama hospitals. These two hospitals saved lives as they stocked medicines which were rare in government hospitals.
Hospitals had most competent medical workers who included l missionary experts. Today these hospitals still lead in some special medical areas where most Ugandans and others visit for consultations.
Bwama Island which hosted a leprosy hospital, gave Kigezi Diocese milage as it treated people across the nation and most of them had been rejected in the Communities. The hospital was started by Dr Len Sharp who also managed Kabale hospital. He establish his home at Njuyera Island where he stayed with his family. Bwama became so famous and helped the Diocese to attract more Missionaries in the health sector.
The Diocese of Kigezi started Boys Brigade in Uganda and was pioneered at Rugarama hill before it spread through out Uganda. The Boys and Girls Brigade mentored young leaders some of them kept in the church throughout their lives. All these Kigezi Diocese innovations were copied by other areas and it remained a model even today. It still leads in many projects in Uganda especially the famous water project and quality education.
This coming Sunday on 29th May 2022, the world will walk to Rugarama hill to witness the consecration and enthronement of Can. Gaddie Akanjuna as the 6th bishop of the Diocese of Kigezi. The current bishop Rt. Rev. George Bagamuhunda with his jovial smile, he will handover the Diocese amidst thousands of people.
Among special guests will be retired Bishops of the Diocese who will include Rt. Rev. Dr. William Rukirande and Rt. Rev. George Katwesigye who made great contribution during their term of service. Rt. Rev. Enoch Kayeye who retired as a bishop in Congo, is another guest who also worked on Rugarama hill for many years.
The writer is Robert Tumwesigye ofKigezi Research Desk[email protected]+256772599393/+256700520339