Injustice Musings Personal Religion

Painful memories

Two decades ago, the Diocese of Muhabura (one of the constituent dioceses of the Anglican Church of Uganda) was embroiled in a leadership succession dispute.

The Succession Crisis to the Diocesan See of Muhabura, Church of Uganda by Isiko Alexander Paul

Two decades ago, the Diocese of Muhabura (one of the constituent dioceses of the Anglican Church of Uganda) was embroiled in a leadership succession dispute. Bishop Ernest Shalita, who had headed the diocese since its formation in 1990 was retiring and Can. David Sebuhinja (my dad) had been elected to succeed him. Unfortunately, the process didn’t go as smoothly as one would have expected of the church. Instead, it was derailed by a group led by the area’s most prominent politician who succeeded in whipping up such hate and turmoil that I still shudder to think about it even 20+ years later.

Unfortunately, three rather random events – all unpleasant – have forced me to cast my mind back to those dark days. The first was an unwelcome development at the COU Provincial Office regarding my dad’s pension – a story for another day. The second was a reminder of that saga through a story I heard for the first time on a recent trip to Kisoro – also a story for another day. The third was stumbling on the book illustrated above, titled “The Succession Crisis to the Diocesan See of Muhabura, Church of Uganda“. This third factor was probably the most significant and it’s what prompted this quick post.

See, back then, quite a number of people said so many hurtful things that I and the rest of the family got to know about but I had no idea someone had documented some of them. Therefore, reading them in this book and realising that the speakers had actually said them on record in the knowledge that they would be published brought back a flood of painful memories. Quite absurdly though, the author (in my opinion) appears to lean firmly on their side despite some of their outrageous takes. It is also quite disturbing how the testimony of a handful of individuals is presented as gospel truth even where the content is patently absurd and in some cases downright defamatory. That though is my opinion which is hardly neutral. It doesn’t help matters that the book is poorly written with typos and questionable grammar in places.

Anyway, the overriding question on my mind after reading the hurtful stuff and seeing the attributions is “Why?” Why did these people, some of whom we considered friends, attack us like this? For example, here are a few things that three gentlemen said about my dad and mum (and our home) (from the attributions in the book):

Augustine Ntibarikure:

  • For the Archbishop not to consecrate the very bishop elect, I think was God’s guidance as this would have caused a Christian genocide ever known. People were ready to die for the cause.
  • …claimed that Mrs Sebuhinja was not fit to be a wife of a bishop because of her poor character, which was described to be unspiritual.
  • He is not a pastoral pastor. He is a man who is introverted and not interested in his Christians. He is a man for many years does not care or visit his Christians.

Wilson Munyangabo:

  • Sebuhinja’s wife is rude, arrogant, does not respect anybody and she is the decision maker at home.
  • She is believed to have told Mateke; “not to be silly” a statement that was insultive to a former minister and an area member of parliament.

Esau Muruta

  • He is believed to have absolutely failed as cathedral dean and chairman clergy.

These are just some of the things these gentlemen said to the author – on record. However, a lot more was said back then (including death threats/wishes and all manner of curses) and I’ve always wondered – why? Why? I wish I could get an answer to this. These three gentlemen were well known to us and I would never have guessed that they’d ever come out swinging so strongly against us prior to the crisis. Mr. Ntibarikure was a teacher in my primary school. Mr. Munyangabo (RIP) was a neighbour and his children were our friends. Rev. Can. Muruta was a kindly soul (or so I thought) that was so delighted to learn that I had passed my PLE that he quickly pulled out and gave a 5,000 shilling note when we met. None of them, to the best of my knowledge, had any issues with my dad prior to the crisis. So what happened for them to get so rabid with him/us? I probably know why Augustine did but as for the other two (and so many others) – I hope I’ll one day get an answer.

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