Historical Background of West Buganda Diocese

The history of the diocese of West Buganda is interwoven with the history of the Namirembe diocese and the Church of Uganda in general: one cannot look at West Buganda without critically examining the power house of Namirembe. Only then can we understand the role of the Anglican Church in the development of faith in the greater East African sub region. Kabaka Mutesa I provided the foothold for early missionaries wishing to begin Godís work in Africa. The turmoil that followed his death in the mid 1880ís did not deter that work from proceeding however. Thus while early Christian believers were being rounded up from all over Buganda [Uganda] to be put to death for their religious beliefs at Namugongo, a team of missionaries were busy making preparations to build the first church at Kajuna. Kajuna is currently part of Kako Cathedral Deanery in Masaka District.

By the close of the 1880ís, the Rev. Sadulaka Kibuka had built the church and was busy recruiting converts into that church. Kajuna had been selected for a number of reasons but mainly because it lay along the road from Tanganyika, the officially recognized entry route into the kingdom for all foreigners. When the colonial administration started contemplating opening up a port at Bukakata, as a more practical point for transportation of people and cargo, Namirembe quickly directed that the mission station be transferred to a more convenient location adjacent to the proposed new route. The station shifted to Kiyanja first, then to Mukungwe and finally to Kako in the late 1890ís. Kako in fact was a choice of convenience for Tomasi Semukasa, Gombolola Chief at Mukungwe, who felt his men (in charge of his transportation) were being unduly overworked; the church could be located somewhere in the vicinity of his home and accordingly he made a grant of 200.5 acres to the church on the hills of Kako. Relocation of the station began immediately and by the turn of the twentieth century, work on the mission house (the current Bishopís house) and a health facility had already started.

Administration of the Anglican Church in Uganda evolved over time from its beginnings as a single diocese that included Southern Sudan, Eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, as well as Uganda. By the middle of the twentieth century the diocese of Uganda had been split into several smaller dioceses; Northern Uganda, which included Southern Sudan, and some parts of Eastern Uganda, and the diocese of Western Uganda, which included Bunyoro, Tooro, Ankole, Kigezi, Eastern Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Namirembe Diocese comprised the whole of Buganda, Busoga, Bukedi and Bugisu. Namirembe Diocese was later divided into West and East and the reason behind this was to reduce the burden of administration on the Bishop, who was also in charge of overseeing the operations of the church in greater Uganda. The Rev. Canon Festo Lutaya, Dean of the cathedral and best educated African cleric at the time was chosen to take charge of the proposed Diocese of West Buganda. In 1952 Festo Lutaya arrived at Kako to start work as Assistant Bishop. West Buganda then comprised the counties of Mawokota, Busujju, Singo, Buwekula, Bugangazzi, Buyaga, Kabula, Mawogola, Kooki, Gomba, Buddu and Ssese Islands. This is an area in excess of 40,000 square kilometres.

Festo Lutaya was consecrated full Bishop in July 1960. He soon started toying with the idea of relocating the diocesan seat to Mityana due to its centrality; it was fair to all clergy travelling to the Diocese. In any case, more Christians lived around and to the west of Mityana than in Buddu and Kooki. Canon Ezera Kamya was instructed to start construction of a new residence for the Bishop at Namukozi. Bishop Lutaya, however, consulted no one; the diocesan synod was kept in the dark and he merely informed them of his intentions to shift to Namukozi when the house was ready. Disputes ensued which sowed the seeds of divisionism in West Buganda. Eventually Bishop Lutaya was found to had been out of order in taking a unilateral decision of that magnitude. He was requested to step down and a caretaker administration was appointed to run the Diocese in 1967 under retired Bishop Stephen Tomusange. Tomusange administered the diocese till 1974 when Dr. Christopher Senyonjo took over the diocese.

Bishop Samuel Kamya followed Bishop Senyonjo in 1999. His arrival on the scene was no less controversial than Bishop Lutayaís departure. However, by the time of his exit in January 2011, Christians of the Diocese were more united. The relative calm, plus the tangible achievements of Bishop Samuel, had given hope to Christians and a focus for the new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Makumbi, on spiritual and material development rather than controversy. The time was right to concentrate on how to exploit the vast material resources and manpower potential of the Diocese, for the benefit of Godís work.

The present day diocese covers seven political administrative districts of Masaka, Lyantonde, Lwengo, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Sembabule and Rakai, with a total area of 11,959 square kilometres. The Diocese occupies the southern part of the central region of Uganda. Diocesan offices are at Kako, a location that is six miles to the east of Masaka town. This is also where the Diocesan cathedral and the Bishop's residence are located. The present Bishop, Rt. Rev. Godfrey Makumbi, is fifth in line and was consecrated on 23 January 2011. The Trans African highway from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa in Kenya runs through the diocese to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi to the west of the country. Most parts of the Diocese can be reached during the dry season. Road transport, however, can be quite treacherous in the rainy season on most roads. Motorists with four wheel drive vehicles though, get around with little difficulty.