IN the minds and affections of the home Church in modern days the place of Uganda has been unrivalled. It has been a name to conjure with. The early heroes and martyrs, whose names are now household words in English Christian circles; the action of the Church, good or otherwise, in saving Uganda for the Empire; the phenomenal progress of Christianity; and the testimony alike of travellers, statesmen, and traders, as to the real uplift of the people--all these have conspired to give Uganda a unique position. The country, however, has done more than attract attention to itself; it has stimulated interest in the missionary cause everywhere and put fresh vitality into men's faith in Jesus Christ.
No reader must come to this book looking for a detailed history of the Mission, or he will be disappointed. There are only two incidental references to the two Roman Catholic missions in Uganda--the one French, and the other English--whose converts in 1920 were said to number 230,000; we miss also any description of the constitution of the Church in Uganda, adopted in 1909, which provides for a synod, diocesan council, parochial and district councils, women's conferences, tribunals of appeal and reference, and boards of education, missions, and theology. Again, no mention is made of Bishop Parker who succeeded Bishop Hannington and, like him but for a different cause, failed to reach Uganda, dying with others of his party at the south end of the lake. Deeply interesting references have had to be omitted to the work of men like Gordon and Millar, among those who have passed away, and of Walker, Roscoe, and Baskerville who still survive, the last named now in his thirty-second year of service--all of them wise master builders who laid the foundations of the temple of God in the heart of Africa. These and many other interesting facts must have been included in a detailed history, but such was not the author's design; he has sought rather, by a few master strokes, to give a bird's-eye view of the whole picture--the capture of Buganda for Christ and the attempts to establish the Kingdom of God in the outlying countries of Toro, Bunyoro, Busoga, Bukedi, Ankole, and Kavirondo.
We venture to hope that the book will find many readers, and this, not so much for the stimulus which comes from communing with a great past, but because Uganda seems destined to play an important part in the building up of a new Africa. A new world-fabric is in course of erection, and the importance of Africa's contribution is gaining increasing recognition. Ten years ago the man who spoke of an African nation would have been looked upon as an idle dreamer; the many tribes and the great diversities of language seemed to render such a development incredible. To-day men see signs of the coming to pass of this impossible thing. The African is developing a race consciousness, and at a rapid rate. Young eager spirits, bent on their country's realizing its destiny, are banding themselves together. We have the Young Baganda Club, the Kikuyu Native Association, and the National Congress of West Africa; and "Africa for the African" is their cry. There is also the movement led by Mr. Marcus Garvey, who styles himself "Provisional President of Africa," and aims at procuring Africa for the African by violence. Many influences have been at work. The impact of the white man made this desire for freedom and self-realization inevitable. The vision of freedom was cleared and the desire deepened through the intermingling of tribe and race in the great war. Nor must there be forgotten the influence of the negro's experience in America, in the way both of encouragement and warning, while the generous measure of self-government accorded to India--for Indians also are within the veil of colour--should perhaps be included among the forces at work. But whatever the causes, a mental and spiritual movement is in progress and nothing can stay it. To try and stifle it is merely to change its channels, and events both in Ireland and in India are eloquent of the danger of such a course. The better way is to guide and foster the movement, and let it develop under the life-giving influence of Jesus Christ, and this can be done through a strong African Church.
There can be no doubt that Uganda has special qualifications for giving a lead in this matter. Its geographical position is a help. Within its borders are many of the conditions which go to make the difficult problems of Africa--the presence of the white man and the Indian; the shortage of labour. More important still is the fact of a highly organized Church, indissolubly bound up with the national life. Before the entrance of Christianity the Baganda had shown strong administrative capacity for an ordered tribal life, and a real, if somewhat crude, representative government. In the wisdom of European leaders, both in the Government and among the missionaries, this has not been superseded, but purified and enriched. It is this ordered Christian government more than any other factor which places Uganda in such a unique position for service in building the new African fabric, and the future depends on the whole life of Uganda, social, political, and individual being permeated by the Spirit of Christ.
Much has been done in this direction, but much remains to be done.
To those who have been fed only on the successes of Christianity in Uganda, this book will come with all the force of a shock; but we venture to think a wholesome shock, for it is always better to face the actual facts. Prominent among these is the low standard of sexual morality as well within as without the Church, and almost of equal concern is the rise of an anti-European spirit. The positive side of this last fact--its indication of a desire to make Africa thoroughly African--is altogether to the good, but the position as it actually exists to-day is critical. Clear thinking and much earnest prayer are needed if Uganda is to fulfil its destiny. The close intimacy of religion and morals needs to be stressed. Increasing attention must be given to the relating of education to African life: it has been said by an acute observer that some of our schools are turning out neither good Europeans nor good Africans. The transfer of responsibility within the Church must be speeded up, and public worship expressed in a form more fitting to the African mind and character. African clergy must be able to hold their own intellectually with the very best in every other walk of life. Work among African women must be developed. And by no means least important is the Christianizing of the impact of the white man, be he trader, government official, or missionary.
We put down this book with the feeling that God has used the Church Missionary Society to do a great work in Uganda, but that the fruits of the victories of the Cross can only be conserved and increased by more intensive Christian service and sacrifice on the part of European and African alike.
C. MOLLAN WILLIAMS
THERE are doubtless many countries in 1 the world more beautiful than Uganda, but few are more interesting. With an altitude varying from 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level, a fertile soil, and a plentiful rainfall, it can well be imagined to be a delectable country. But the numerous valleys of swampy land, covered thickly with papyrus grass up to fifteen feet in height, breeding places for the dangerous mosquito and the more deadly sleeping sickness fly, make it anything but a health resort. At the same time, on the higher lands, particularly to the west near the great mountain range of Ruwenzori (Mountains of the Moon), it might almost be described as a white man's country. In many parts there are magnificent forests where valuable timber still awaits the woodman's axe to turn it to good account. The whole country, which is about 109,000 square miles in extent, is plentifully watered by innumerable streams and rivers, most of which find their way eventually into one of the great lakes.
The Victoria Nyanza, a great inland sea, is bigger than the whole of Scotland, and has been described as the cradle of the Nile; from it that huge river receives its chief supply of pure fresh water, carrying fertility into the desert wastes of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and Egypt. Studded as the lake is with numerous islands, many of them extremely beautiful, there could be no more wonderful view than that gazed upon from the high land to the east.
Two other lakes must be mentioned, both equally fine and each having its own characteristics. The Albert Lake, a long, comparatively narrow stretch of water on the western border of the protectorate, is nearly a hundred miles in length and about sixty miles wide, and is most fascinating in its real beauty. Especially is this so as one stands on its eastern shore on a clear day and gazes right across to the Bulega hills, which form part of the watershed of the Congo River running to the west. Five hundred feet below the surrounding country, with water so clear and pure that the rocks at the bottom can be clearly seen, the traveller looks down upon it as upon a great mirror reflecting the bright tropical sunshine. Unlike the Victoria Lake, Lake Albert has no islands. The water is said to be immensely deep, and abounds with crocodiles, hippopotami, and mighty fish, of which many are well over 100 lbs. in weight.
The Edward Lake in the south-west is a miniature of the Victoria, with fewer natural adornments, but in its way quite as attractive. Its extreme length appears to be not more than sixty miles, and it is about the same in width. This lake is surrounded by wide-spreading plains of short grass and marshy land, consequently the heat is intense, and even the natives who live on its banks complain of the oppressive climate.
As on all inland seas, furious storms are frequent on these lakes. Water-spouts are often seen and are spoken of by the people as the "Spirit of the Lake." Many a canoe-load of native paddlers has been overwhelmed by the sudden storms, and the writer has had more than one harrowing experience of a canoe swamped on the treacherous waters. The storms come up suddenly and with but little warning, and as suddenly die down again. Around the shores of these lakes is the inevitable papyrus, in some places the belts being more than half a mile in width, and in this dwell the great river horses, the crocodiles, and the millions of mosquitoes and other objectionable and dangerous creatures. Countless rivers flow from the high lands into these immense water cisterns, some of the rivers being choked with papyrus grass and varying from a few yards to more than a mile in width. The rivers in the west of the protectorate, on the other hand, are for the most part clear, rushing streams, coming down from the eternal snows of Mount Ruwenzori, and are free from the thick, clogging vegetation which breeds undesirable pests. The beauty of the western province, therefore, is greatly enhanced.
Animals of various kinds and different species are found throughout Uganda, from the beautiful eland to the tiny dyker, from the colossal elephant to the edible rat. Lions and leopards also are numerous, and do no little damage among the natives of the country. A white man had been out here nearly ten years and had never seen a lion; he was therefore quite convinced that none existed in Uganda, until one day along a lonely road, not more than two miles from his own house, he was confronted by a party of three of them! Fortunately, the lions were not hungry, or the sight might have cost him his life. As a matter of fact, Uganda, although the home of many wild and fierce animals, is almost as safe a place to live in as London; by far the greater danger comes from the tiny mosquito which brings malaria and blackwater fever, the tsetse fly which causes sleeping sickness, or the deadly spirelum tic, which is accountable for relapsing fever. Snakes are numerous, but are seldom seen near the habitations of men, and never attack unless molested. They have been known to get into one's boots or to stray under a bed; but these are rare occurrences and need not be expected. The great boa constrictor is the largest of the snake tribe found in Uganda, and is sometimes seen on the open plains or even in the banana gardens near the houses. The whip-cord snake is possibly the smallest. The most deadly, and unfortunately the most common of all, is the puff adder; but another snake, called by the Baganda1 mbalasasa, is of a dangerous kind, and its bite is said to be fatal, whatever remedies may be applied. The black adder also, with a yellow or scarlet breast, another of the deadly snakes found in Uganda. Scorpions and the many-legged centipedes are numerous in the hotter parts of the country. The tiny jigger, noted for its burrowing powers, will quickly make its way under the skin and quite soon hatch out a large brood of children. [Uganda is the name of the whole area comprising the protectorate; Buganda is the name applied to the kingdom forming the centre of that area; the people of the country are spoken of collectively as Baganda, individually as Muganda; the language is known as Luganda.] Constant examination of one's extremities is necessary. Undoubtedly the jigger is the most objectionable pest of all. It is found everywhere and will not be ignored; indeed, no one wishes to ignore it when once its powers-are known.
But our chief concern in this little book is' with the people of Buganda and the surrounding countries, and no more space must be taken up with details of the natural features of the country, or with the most fascinating subject of its animal life. There are many different, tribes in the Uganda Protectorate, but the most noted for its progressiveness, although numerically it is by no means the largest, is the Baganda. Travellers from the coast of Africa up to the Victoria Lake meet with innumerable tribes, mostly of the lowest order, but upon crossing the Buganda border are immediately struck by the very obvious superiority of the people of that country, a stronger and finer type than is met with in any other part of East Africa. They number about 700,000; the total population of the Uganda Protectorate is estimated at four millions.
The people of Buganda are not tall but are sturdily built, not of the dead black complexion so generally seen, but of a deep brown colour. The upper class and what would appear to be the older and truer type of the original race is noticeable on account of much finer characteristics, a shapely nose and thin, well-formed lips. The eyes are large and bright, with curling eyelashes, which give a distinguished look. But alas! cruelty is stamped upon every feature, and no more callous and brutal creature was ever born among the sons of men than the average heathen Muganda. Indeed, the country was steeped in cruelty unspeakable before the advent of the knowledge of God. Human life was taken in the most fiendish manner without the least compunction. As in most African tribes, although there are noticeable exceptions in this protectorate, the woman is the slave of the household, born to do the hard work, to be beaten and ill-used. But in spite of this the Baganda have many excellent qualities that are lacking in other tribes. Pride of country and loyalty to their rulers, however despotic, are most striking features. The king is king, and his wish is law. This at any rate was the old rule of the country, however it may have changed now.
The whole land is divided up into counties, each of which has its "landed lord," whose appointment was, and is largely still, made by the king in consultation with his prime minister. Under these landed lords, or saza chiefs as they are called, there are innumerable other chiefs, each one responsible for his part of the country, and the tiniest village has its own chief who is answerable to the chief just above him. The king and his prime minister are therefore in close touch with the most distant part of the country, and may know immediately what is going on anywhere. Long before the white man arrived upon the scene the Baganda had their courts of law, and although the administration of justice was corrupt in many of its particulars, so that a favourite by making a gift to his chief or to the king himself might escape punishment, it was found that there was an excellent foundation upon which to build up a sound government.
Another noticeable fact is that the Baganda have always been most particular about their clothing. Unlike the tribes of naked savages which surround them, the Baganda from the earliest times have been most careful to cover themselves. Long before cheap fabrics found their way into the country from India or Manchester, the Muganda gentleman clothed himself with cloth made from the bark of a species of fig tree that grows all over the country, or, failing that, with the dressed hide of cattle or wild antelope. The bark cloth is still largely used by the women, and is of a dark or a light terra-cotta colour, according to the ruling fashion; it is most becoming and wears well. When the Arabs and Swahilis came trading into the country they brought with them many bright-coloured cloths which were at once adopted by the well-to-do. Then came bales of stuff from Bombay and Manchester which to-day have a great sale in the country. Alas! the picturesque bark cloth is gradually disappearing.
The Baganda are also an industrious people. They build good huts of reeds and grass supported by poles, and although of curious shape--rather like bee-hives--these are quite comfortable, if insanitary! Windows are conspicuous by their absence, there is only a sluggish sort of ventilation, and the smoke from the inevitable fire in the building percolates but slowly through the thatch of the roof. Each occupant of the hut has a bedstead, solidly erected upon stakes driven into the ground, and curtained off by bark cloth. The women are excellent cultivators, and one woman is said to be able to support eight people by the food she grows. Digging is done with an iron hoe with a short, crooked handle, so that the user is bent double as she digs, but it is quite astonishing how well they manage to turn the soil and how deep and good their cultivation is. The banana or plantain is the staple food of the Baganda, and great gardens of this most useful fruit are found all over the country. Each shoot bears only one bunch of fruit, and when ripe is cut down to leave room for the other suckers. Beer, made from the ripe banana and fermented with grain, a millet seed, is one of the greatest curses of the country. This description applies to the Baganda tribe, for the other races living in the protectorate, who are by far the most numerous, are chiefly grain eaters, and use the banana almost entirely for beer-making.
The whole country is full of superstition, but signs are not lacking to prove the people's belief in a great Supreme Being who, however, is thought to be cruel and vindictive and demanding sacrifices, but otherwise not concerned about the human race. Innumerable spirits of both good and evil are recognized, and at one time no homestead was without its shrine. Human sacrifices were frequent, and birds, beasts, and food were dedicated to the spirits. In Bunyoro it was not uncommon for a child-offering to be made to safeguard a village or tribe. A hole would be dug in the ground in which a child would be buried alive up to its neck and left to die, in order that the spirit might intervene and keep back a threatening enemy or a devastating disease. The idea of sacrifice, ingrained in the human breast, found its outlet in this and other similar practices. Young men and women were often dedicated to the spirit, and would work spells under the instruction of the doctor of the district. Inevitably, these practices led to almost unheard-of wickedness. First of all, then, was the supreme God, the Creator, thought to be far too exalted to take much interest in the affairs of men and to have handed over the government of the world to gods of a lower degree. Next to him were hosts of spirits, supposed to be in some way connected with the great forces of nature and responsible for all the terrible events and calamities of life. These latter were the national gods, and perhaps the chief among them in the kingdom of Buganda was the god of the great lake, who guarded the country of Uganda from encroachments from the east. It was no doubt this god who was made responsible in times gone by for the murder of Bishop Hannington. To this day the older men of the country will tell you that, had the Bishop approached Uganda from the south by way of the mission station then in existence on the southern shores, he would have been allowed to pass. Besides the god of the lake there were the god of war, the gods of plague and storm, and innumerable others. These were the gods supposed to be concerned with human affairs, having it in their power to send favours or calamities as they pleased. There were shrines erected in various parts of the kingdom, to which high priests were attached, and through these offerings were made.
Devil possession was not uncommon, and still persists. A person in such a state is looked upon as being particularly favoured by the god; as one from whom help may be received by payment of the price demanded.
Worship of God or the gods in any true form was lacking, for fear is the ruling passion in all spirit worship; at the best there was the vague hope of deliverance from sorrow or trouble, for only at such times did the Baganda seek the help of their gods. In Uganda it was customary at the time of national calamity, as when smallpox or plague was devastating the country, for the king himself to go to the witch doctors or heathen priests to find out from them the cause of the trouble. Often at such times a great human sacrifice would be demanded, and at the instigation of the king many would be caught on the public highroads and led off to the place of public execution as human sacrifices. Sometimes the victim was burned to death; on other occasions he was clubbed or thrown into the king's lake, to be devoured by the crocodiles kept there for the purpose. There was no sign of worship, just a ghastly butchery with the hope of propitiating the gods. Let it not be forgotten or overlooked that these acts, fearful and repulsive as they were, were not altogether the outcome of the cruel nature of the Baganda, but of ignorance and helpless fear in face of the great mysteries of life.
This brief summary of native customs and religion will be sufficient to reveal how great was the darkness and how urgent the need for enlightenment. Let the following chapters show how the coming of the light has gradually driven these horrors from Uganda, and how the radiating beams of that light are spreading from the centre to the outer circle of the still dark lands around.
IN the year 1846 two white men pitched their camp at Rabai, not more than thirty miles from Mombasa, and commenced a hard and laborious life of missionary service, in the course of which they accomplished a considerable amount of travel and exploration into the interior of the dark continent. The whole of the centre of Africa was then unknown, and, when they wrote home of snow-capped mountains and of great inland seas, the credulity of Europe was stretched to a degree. It was not until 1855 that a map was published which showed what has been described as "a huge slug on the empty space of the interior," representing a wonderful inland sea. It is due to the Royal Geographical Society that explorers, properly equipped, were sent out into this unknown land, and practically substantiated what the missionaries had reported. These travellers (Speke, Burton, and Grant) wrote of a great kingdom beyond the lake which they called the Victoria Nyanza, the nearest shore of which was about 700 miles from the coast, a kingdom ruled over by a young king whose power was felt over many thousands of square miles. Unlike other African countries through which they passed, which were ruled by petty chiefs whose influence would not stretch much beyond the confines of their own village, this country was well organized by a system of chieftainships, all under one central council dominated by a king whose rule was autocratic.
Thirteen years had gone by since those hardy pioneers had penetrated into the heart of this vast country, when in 1875 the famous letter in the "Daily Telegraph" appeared. As the world knows, it was written by one of Britain's great men, H. M. Stanley. Stanley had been sent out by the "Daily Telegraph" and the "New York Herald" to explore the centre of Africa, and in the course of his journeys he had arrived in Uganda and found its king Mutesa to be exactly as he had been described by those early pioneers. At the end of his historic letter he added these memorable words: "O, that some pious, practical missionary would come here!... Such an one, if he can be found, would become the saviour of Africa. Nowhere is there in all the pagan world a more promising field for a mission than Uganda? Here, gentlemen, is your opportunity. Embrace it! The people on the shores of the Nyanza call upon you." The challenge thus thrown down before the Christian Church, was soon taken up, thank God. "An unprofitable servant" had within three days offered to place £5000 at the disposal of the Committee of the C.M.S. if they were "prepared at once, and with energy, to organize a mission to the Victoria Nyanza." Within a few days no less a sum than £24,000 was subscribed, and to the everlasting glory of God the Gospel was to be preached in Uganda.
The setting out of the first band of missionaries has been described as a leap in the dark. Let their names be written in gold! Men who "counted not their lives dear unto them," knowing full well what the end might be. George Shergold Smith, ex-lieutenant of the Royal Navy; Alexander Mackay, a Scotch engineer; the Rev. C. T. Wilson, a Manchester curate; T. O'Neill, an architect; John Smith, a doctor from Edinburgh; G. J. Clark, another engineer; W. M. Robertson, an artisan; and James Robertson, a builder, who, rejected by the doctors, went out at his own risk and expense--these made up the party.
Shergold Smith was the leader, and a good idea of his character is given by the words he wrote when he offered to go: "Send me out in any capacity. I am willing to take the lowest place." Mackay, the youngest of the party, thus addressed the Committee of the C.M.S. before he sailed: "I want to remind the Committee that within six months they will probably hear that one of the party is dead; yes, is it at all likely that eight Englishmen should start for Central Africa and all be alive six months after? One of us at least--it may be I--will surely fall before that.... When that news comes, do not be cast down, but send some one else immediately to take the vacant place." Thus spoke the true hero, and his words were only too quickly fulfilled, for on August 5 of the same year James Robertson laid down his life for Uganda. In this spirit the first messengers of the Cross of Christ stepped out into the unknown, into a country of darkness and death, bearing aloft the banner of the Cross.
At long last, on 30 June, 1877, two of the party reached Uganda, crossing from the south end of the lake--two only out of the eight that had started! Clark had had to be left at Mpapua, 220 miles inland, and soon afterwards was compelled by ill-health to return home. Mackay was ordered back to the coast, desperately ill and not expected to live. W. M. Robertson also was invalided home, so that only four out of the eight could then complete the journey to the lake. The journey of these four men, plodding onwards in face of sickness and death, leaving behind them so many of their fellows, is among the most heroic acts recorded in all missionary history. There was no kindly European government official to guide and help these lonely travellers. They were at the mercy of their own porters and were especially hindered by the greedy chiefs through whose countries they had to pass, who made impossible demands in exchange for the inadequate supplies of food that were allowed for the caravan. Constantly delayed by fever and hunger, it is no wonder that the missionaries took six months to reach Kagei, at the southern shore of the lake. There on 11 May, 1877, Dr. John Smith died of dysentery. This was a heavy loss indeed to the few that remained. Who was to help them now when sickness came along? And yet in each of the survivors' letters there is no thought of despair or of drawing back, but simply this message: "Send some one to take his place." At the south end of the lake O'Neill was left with the heavy goods, so that only Shergold Smith and Wilson reached the capital of Uganda.
We can picture the wonderful state of excitement that existed in Uganda when news first reached its king that a band of white missionaries was about to arrive in the country. How the great drums would boom, and what preparations of food there would be! For the Baganda are nothing if not a hospitable people. Here at last were the teachers so long expected. The great Stanley's word was true, after all, when he said: "We will send you teachers."
The king received them in a friendly spirit, and soon provided them with a site for a house and helped them to build it.
And now commenced the patient, plodding work. The native language had to be mastered before much could be done, and only those who have worked at a strange language without books of any kind can realize the desperate need for patience. Native customs also had to be understood before the white man could hope to have much influence in the country. Swahili was the language first used by the missionaries, but this being the coast dialect and not generally understood, they soon found the pressing need of learning the native tongue. The sight of Wilson reading the Word of God and slowly translating it to the king and chiefs, explaining its wonderful meaning for the first time to these dark heathen, was a sight that must have made all heaven ring with joy. O, the pathos of it! One white man, surrounded by the heathen mob, calmly telling this crowd of savages that God is Love!
Shergold Smith had returned to the south of the lake to join O'Neill and to bring up the rest of the stores. Here both of these gallant Englishmen were attacked and killed by the king of Ukerewe, because they had given protection to an Arab with whom he had a quarrel. The pity of it fills our hearts. The leader of the party removed, and Wilson left alone in the great kingdom of Buganda with but little prospect of a companion for many months to come! Heroically he kept at his work until first Mackay, then other recruits, could join him, but the greatest test of faith was yet to be, not only for him but for supporters at home. French priests of the Church of Rome arrived two years after our missionaries got there, and sad confusion resulted. Mutesa and his chiefs were perplexed, as well they might be. Protestant, Roman, and Mohammedan, all were there with their conflicting differences. Is it to be wondered at that the old heathenism soon began to gain ground again, and apparently won the day? For the king himself gave in, and said: "We will have nothing more to do with either the Arab's or the white man's religion, but we will return to the religion of our fathers." All but one or two of the readers ceased coming to Wilson, and the work of God seemed to be crushed. In the eyes of men FAILURE might have been written across this page of missionary history in Uganda.
But there were those whose faith was unshaken, and out of that turmoil of darkness and sin came the brave words of Mackay: "Although two and a half years' work shows no more fruit than a seemingly unanimous rejection of Christianity, yet the work must not be given up in a hurry. Darkness must vanish before light, and the triumphs of Christianity in the past more than warrant our assurance that it will triumph here, perhaps in a future very near." Memorable words, prophetically spoken! The terrific strain and loneliness had been too great for Wilson's strength, and he had been obliged to leave Uganda, though later he took up missionary work in a healthier climate and in less trying circumstances.
"Mackay of Uganda"--how his name will live! Not so much because he was a man of wonderful ability, a great teacher, and a clever mechanic, but because he lived Christ before a heathen people. He is spoken of to-day in most affectionate terms by the few that still survive who knew him. An old man said to the writer recently: "Mackay! why, he was our father, a man full of grace." This old fellow was one of Mackay's earliest readers, who, when the great persecution of the readers came on, ran away to save his life and subsequently went back to his teacher, or "father," as he calls him, and with tears asked him to pray for him that he might remain faithful even unto death.
Mackay laboured night and day, working with his own hands to supply the spiritual needs of those around him. Neglected by the king whose guest he was supposed to be, we read of his selling the glass from a photograph frame, sent to him from home, in order to obtain his daily bread. When in the year 1881, in the month of October, a little note was one day slipped into his hand, and he read of the first convert who wished for baptism, we can well imagine the almost overwhelming joy it brought to Mackay and 0'Flaherty, who was then his colleague. The message ran: "Sembera has come with compliments and to give you great news. Will you baptize him, because he believes the words of Jesus Christ?" Here, then, was the first convert.
But we learn that Sembera was not the first to be baptized, after all. "A lad named Damulira, who was an earnest reader, fell ill. He begged a heathen friend, a lad of his own age, to call one of the missionaries, but his friend refused. Damulira grew worse, and at last, when dying, he bade his heathen friend bring water and sprinkle it over him 'In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' "This, therefore, was the first baptism in Uganda, performed by a heathen lad! Mackay wrote of this: "I do believe that this baptism by a lubare lad (spirit worshipper) has been written in heaven." Sembera and four others were baptized on 18 March, 1882, nearly six months after the letter quoted above was written, Sembera taking for his new name "Mackay," in loving memory of his teacher. By the end of the year 1884 the number of baptized Christians had increased to eighty-eight. Mutesa, the king, died in October of that year, and Mwanga his eighteen-year old son succeeded him.
Now commenced the darkest page of all Uganda's history. From the very beginning, Mwanga's bad points made themselves known. Mutesa had been guilty of fearful cruelty, but Mwanga far surpassed him in his lust for blood. Fickle, vicious, cruel, treacherous, and utterly weak, he was easily led and influenced, and the greater the wickedness suggested to him by his associates, the more readily he complied. His first great deed of savagery was wrought upon some of the missionaries' boys on 30 January, 1885. These boys were caught while accompanying their masters, Mackay and Ashe, on the road down to the lake. The accusation was that the. boys were trying to leave the country without permission; but obviously the trouble was that they were Christian lads. Three of these young fellows were dragged off to the place of execution, the youngest being about fifteen years old. They were tied up to a rough scaffolding, and a wood fire kindled beneath them, and they were slowly burned to death, while with fiendish cruelty hands and legs were severed from the quivering bodies, mercifully hastening the end.
On the spot where this inhuman deed was perpetrated there stands to-day a granite cross dedicated to the memory of these early martyrs. At its dedication in July, 1910, there stood around the representatives of over 70,000 Christian Baganda.
It was in the troublous days of 1885 that news reached the missionaries that Bishop Hannington was approaching Uganda to take up the leadership. The Arab traders, whose nefarious work and bad influence had been making great headway in Uganda, warned King Mwanga that the white man was coming by the back door into the country in order to "eat up the land." The king listened to their warning, and being afraid because of his own evil deeds, ordered the Bishop's party to be arrested as soon as they arrived within his territory. Unaware of this danger though he knew of others, Hannington had hurried forward with a small party of Africans only, anxious to get to his journey's end and enter the land of promise; until at last, from the great hill of Busoga overlooking the lake and the waters of the Nile, he saw in the distance Uganda the beautiful, the longed for. Hardly had his eyes rested upon it when he was seized by some men who had followed him, thrust into a hut and kept as a prisoner. After eight days orders came that the white man was to be killed. With brutal spear thrusts this valiant soldier of the Cross was done to death on 29 October, 1885, together with many of his porters. Almost his last words were: "I am about to die for the Baganda, and have purchased the road to them with my life." By that road, broadly speaking, a railway to the lake was completed sixteen years later. Four of the porters escaped and returned to the rest of the caravan, which soon made its sorrowful way back to the coast. "Ichabod" was inscribed upon the banner which headed the mournful procession to the mission station at Mombasa. But the glory had not departed, for it is true that Hannington did more for Africa by his noble death than ever he could have done by his life. Within a few weeks after the news reached England, fifty men had offered themselves to the C.M.S. for service in the mission field. Hannington's name has continued ever since to be an inspiration to many. And in Uganda all the powers of hell were not sufficient to choke the little spark of life which was soon to spread into a living Church.
LIKE the guilty man that he was, Mwanga dreaded lest punishment for the cruel murder of Hannington should come upon him. But as time went on and nothing happened, he became emboldened to continue his career of crime. The three men now in the country, Mackay, O'Flaherty, and Ashe, were in constant danger of their lives. At any moment the king might send for them and order his executioners to do their duty. But these heroic men were upheld by the power of God to face the awful suspense. When at last Mackay was ordered into the presence of the king his companions feared the worst. "Very humble," wrote Ashe, speaking of Mackay, "very weak, very childlike he was on his knees before God; very strong and very manly afterwards." "What if I kill you?" cried the infuriated monarch when Mackay stood before him. The threat made but little impression. Doubtless the king found Mackay's mechanical skill so useful to himself that he stayed his hand. Be that as it may, Mackay's work was not yet done.
It was about this time that the Bible began to be circulated in the language of the people, the first sheet of the Gospel of St. Matthew being ready on 13 November, 1885, Mackay set to work with marvellous patience to repair his little printing press brought from England, which had suffered much damage in transit. Some of the larger type being lost, he cut out substitutes with his own hands, from hard wood. Picture this white man, many thousands of miles from his own country, sitting alone in his little grass hut, laboriously chipping from the rough, with improvised tools, letters for the printing of the Word of God! The world might look on with scorn, and the worldly-wise with pity, shaking their heads and saying: "What is the good of all this labour?" But Mackay knew what he was about. He believed in the power of the Word, therefore he chose thus to spend his time and strength. The distribution of his printed book soon fostered a spirit of inquiry, and the number of readers increased daily in spite of the awful peril of persecution and possible death.
At the same time a great onslaught was made upon the native Christians throughout the country. Some 200 martyrs perished in this persecution, and a great multitude suffered mutilation and banishment for their faith. But the Word of God in their own tongue brought to many of these early Christians, who suffered so much, a wonderful, calm confidence in God which enabled them to face death in its most hideous forms. And be it also noted that although the Christians were scattered, and the white men threatened by the king and turned out of the country, from that date onwards the work of God grew and flourished exceedingly.
The Mohammedans at this time made another great effort to possess the land and, cunningly obtaining the help of the Christian party, formed a plot to dethrone Mwanga, the inhuman monster; they succeeded in driving him from the throne and putting in his place an older son of Mutesa. But this ill-assorted confederacy between Mohammedans and Christians could not possibly last, and very soon the Arab influence asserted itself and began to plot for the overthrow of the Christians. The Christians were treacherously attacked, and driven into Ankole to the southwest with terrible loss. Both French Roman Catholic and English stations were destroyed and the missionaries taken prisoners. Finally, robbed of all they possessed, the whole party of some thirty-nine souls, including two British and four French missionaries, were put into the mission boat on the lake and told never to return to Uganda again. Of the adventurous journey of this party on the lake one cannot give details here, except to mention the fact that the boat was shipwrecked and five people lost their lives, and that eventually, after many days of hardship, the rest reached Usambiro, at the south end of the lake.
Meanwhile in Uganda, the puppet king, Kiwewa, was deposed by the Mohammedans, and another son of Mutesa, whose name was Kalema, was put on the throne. During this time of unrest, the translation and the printing of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the few who had escaped, went on quietly at Usambiro. Mackay was also busy building a little steam launch, meant for missionary journeys, but alas! never finished.
It was during this time of waiting that H. M. Stanley, on his way back after the rescue of Emin Pasha, stayed for a little while with Mackay at Usambiro. In his book (" In Darkest Africa," vol. ii, pp. 350, 387) he describes his experience there and speaks of his great admiration for this lonely missionary.
Mwanga regained the throne in 1889, largely by the aid of the Christians, and in response to his appeal, Gordon and Walker1 went to him once more, although they had suffered so much at his hands. And now a new era in Uganda commenced. Africa was to be partitioned among the European powers, and British influence to be established in Uganda and East Africa.
On 8 February, 1890, Mackay died of fever in the midst of his great labours, without having returned to Uganda. His splendid young manhood had been spent for his Master, and his work was done. His last message, written only five weeks before his death, was as follows: "You sons of England, here is a field for your energies. You men of God who have resolved to devote your lives to the care of the souls of men, here is the proper field for you. It is not to win numbers to a Church but to win men to the Saviour." May these words be stamped upon our hearts! Never was there more urgent need than now to realize that outward membership of a Church is insufficient; men must be brought into vital contact with Christ. A Church is necessary to this end, and it must be African through and through.
[The Rev. E. C. Gordon (nephew of Bishop Hannington) sailed for Uganda in 1882, but remained at the south end of the Victoria Nyanza until Mwanga's invitation reached him in 1887. The Rev. R. H. Walker (afterwards Archdeacon of Uganda) landed in Africa in 1887 and joined Cordon in Uganda.]
During that same month of February, 1890, another party arrived at Mombasa, with one in their midst who was to be a true leader of men. By God's wonderful providence he had been sent to carry on the work so nobly commenced by Mackay. That man was George Pilkington. Those of us who were privileged to know Pilkington in Uganda will always feel that in him God had very specially prepared a man to meet the extraordinary needs of the country at that time. There were language difficulties, and no grammar was available for the student of Luganda who wished to make himself proficient in the work allotted to him. Pilkington supplied the need, and to this day his grammar is more largely used than any other. Short, concise, and simply written, the least gifted can understand it. There was an even greater need than this. Mohammedans, Romanists, and heathen were all taking sides against the Protestant teachers, so that little intercourse was possible between the factions. But Pilkington's house became a meeting place for all sorts and conditions of men. The leading Mohammedan chief was a frequent visitor to his house, and often entered into long discussions with him. Romanists also found Pilkington not an enemy but a very true friend who desired to help them. Many a time I have entered that little grass shed--he called it a house--on Namirembe Hill, and found it crowded with Mohammedans, Romanists, Protestants, and heathen, all taking part in earnest talk with this great teacher and scholar. [The capital of Uganda is built on several hills. One of these, Mengo.is the native capital; Namirembe is the C.M.S. centre with the cathedral on its summit; and Kampala is the political capital.]
His great work, the translation of the whole Bible into Luganda, lives after him, as a grand monument to his memory.
The first Bishop of Uganda to reach the country, Alfred Tucker, arrived on 27 December, 1890, and, with the party mentioned above, he received a tremendous welcome. [Strictly speaking, the Diocese of Uganda only came into being in 1898. Prior to that (1884-98) Bishop Tucker, like his predecessors Bishops Hannington and Parker, had as his see Eastern Equatorial Africa, extending from the western border of Uganda to the coast. It is interesting to note that both Bishops Hannington and Tucker offered to the C.M.S. as missionaries, and the former first went out to Africa in this capacity. Neither Bishop Hannington nor Bishop Parker ever reached Uganda.] He found that the first church, built of reeds, had been opened on Trinity Sunday, 1890. It was a wonderful building of purely native architecture, 81 feet long by 24 feet broad. And, strange as it may seem, so soon after the dreadful time of persecution, it was packed daily by those who wished to become Christians. Of Bishop Tucker as a man much might be written. He was the true friend of all the missionaries who worked under him, and he soon made himself familiar with their varied work and especially with the difficulties that confronted them. By his untiring efforts, often under tremendous physical strain, he visited the centres of missionary work, cheering and encouraging the men who, perhaps in great loneliness of heathen surroundings, were trying to carry the Light into the darkness. He never spared himself, and perhaps his strongest characteristic was his untiring effort to help the Africans, often acting as a go-between in order that a mutual understanding might exist between the native and the government official. He was a tower of strength to all, and by his strong personality inspired confidence. He was soon recognized by missionary and official alike as a statesman of no mean order. Right through his life he lived in the simplest possible manner, and although he never learned the native language, he soon got to the heart of those whom he had come out to serve. When at last he was called upon to lay down his work in this country he had the immense satisfaction of knowing that he left behind him a constituted Church complete in almost every detail. During the term of his leadership the Church grew in an almost unprecedented fashion. Out-stations were opened north, south, east, and west, and pioneer missionaries sent to occupy these posts of honour.
The year 1891 will always be a memorable one in the history of the Church in Uganda. The country was in a state of chaos. The Roman Mission, which had firmly established itself and was working on a distinctly political basis, had obtained a large following, and the existence of two forms of Christianity, Protestant and Roman Catholic, both introduced by the white man, caused much perplexity among those primitive people. To them they appeared as two opposing forces, each striving for the possession of the country; and very soon these forces came into collision with disastrous results. Arms were taken up and battles fought, the opponents being called, respectively, Bafransa and Bangereza (French and English). It has sometimes been called a religious war, but in reality religion had little or nothing to do with it; it was a purely political strife. The British East Africa Company, under the leadership of Sir F. Lugard, did its best to smooth things out. Then the Company, through lack of funds, proposed to withdraw from the country. Such a course would have meant inevitable disaster to all missionary work in the country.
Happily Bishop Tucker was at home, and he speedily found means of averting this calamity. He soon aroused tremendous enthusiasm, and within a very short time £16,000 had been subscribed by the Church at home. This money, with gifts from the leaders of the Company, was to make it possible for the Company to hold on for another year, with the hope that by that time the home Government would see its way to take over the whole country. Thus was Uganda saved from what might have been a return to its old heathen cruelty. King Mwanga, who had at this time attached himself to the French party, and was commanding a very large following, was fortunately unable to make any headway against the troops under the command of Lugard. Finally, seeing which way things were going and that the French faction were being worsted, he suddenly professed himself a Protestant; having escaped from his party, he left them to their fate and returned to Mengo. The Bafransa accepted the inevitable and submitted to the superior force, and the so-called religious war was brought to a close.
A WONDERFUL change now took place in the country, and was traceable to two most noteworthy facts. Much of the Bible was by this time being freely circulated and eagerly read, and the Holy Spirit came in power upon the workers. There is, of ocurse, a very close connexion between the two--" the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God." There is little doubt but that the Spirit was shining through the written Word, and illuminating its pages so that the most simple soul could understand its message of love. The books could not be produced quickly enough, and new supplies were bought up as soon as they arrived. It was no easy matter in those days to keep up an adequate supply to meet the great demand. The journey from the coast took so long, and there was always trouble on the way. Whole caravans were sometimes cut up by the tribes passed through, and many a time the consignments of books were cast away to rot in the jungle. In Uganda the books were sold as nearly at cost price as possible, in consideration of the poverty of the people.
God's Word was thus distributed and read, and it was astounding in what strange places copies of the Gospel were often found. Far away it travelled into Bunyoro and Toro, and even into some of the more remote parts of the Upper Congo. Sometimes the distribution was traceable to strange causes. A little lad, carried off as a slave to a far distant part of the protectorate, took with him his little gospel, and prized it greatly. In captivity he read it and taught the heathen children around him to do likewise, until what may well be described as a little Church of God appeared in this great, dark province. When the writer travelled down the Congo, in the year 1899, a young heathen man of a cannibal tribe was found to be wearing a gospel stitched up in bark cloth and slung around his neck.
Perhaps it is well nigh impossible for a Christian worker in England to understand what an overwhelming joy it was to the pioneer missionary of those days, particularly if he had been through the dark days of persecution, to see the all-conquering power of the Word of God. To all the workers a new impetus was given; those who had sown with tears now watched the seed spring forth into life. God the Holy Spirit Himself came in power and, taking of the things of Jesus, revealed them to the seeking soul. Great gatherings were sometimes held in the open air when God's Word was read and explained, the little churches being far too small to accommodate the crowds that came to hear, and so thousands pressed forward into the Kingdom of Christ. Churches were built all over the country, mostly reed and grass structures, but sufficient to keep off the sun or rain. Best of all, hundreds of young men came forward after their baptism to be sent out as teachers. So the Church grew and flourished, and there was a great harvest time.
Soon a foreign missionary spirit was shown, and evangelists were sent into other countries to preach. Busoga was the first to open its doors, and in the year 1893 the first missionaries of the Uganda Church were sent into the land where, but a few years previously, Bishop Hannington had laid down his life.
Slavery was at the same time abolished, not by the might of the British flag, but by the voluntary wish of the people themselves. A petition, signed by forty of the Protestant chiefs, including nine out of the thirteen landed lords of Uganda, was sent to the British representative, asking that all slavery should come to an end. The Roman Catholic chiefs objected to this, but their objections were overruled, and freedom to the slave was pronounced. Here, then, in the heart of Africa was a race of people boldly putting themselves on the side of righteousness. It was not until fourteen years afterwards that liberty came to the slaves at the coast.
On Trinity Sunday, 1893, the first six Baganda were ordained deacons of the Church, and soon afterwards hundreds of teachers were sent out all over the country. In the many little churches or reading rooms erected by the Baganda themselves it was estimated that year that some 20,000 people met together every Sunday to hear the Gospel, and in a few months 1500 were preparing for baptism. The pressing need for women workers was now keenly felt, and a request was sent home; and in 1895 the first party of five English women started for the distant field of Uganda. [All the members of this party completed twenty-five years of service in Uganda.] By this time nearly 10,000 men and women had entered Christ's fold and proclaimed their faith in baptism. Thus the ingathering commenced in earnest, and continues to this present day.
A serious set-back to the progress of the country took place in the year 1897. King Mwanga, who, no doubt, was still wondering what might happen to him after the cruel way in which he had mutilated and slain the early Christians, thought that the best thing he could do would be to revolt against British control. He therefore attached himself once more to the Roman Catholic section and ignominiously fled from his capital to Budu, a province of Uganda, where he raised an army. Prompt measures were taken by the Government, and a force of police and a large number of loyal Baganda attacked Mwanga's army and drove them out of the country into (what was then) German East Africa. A little son, born to Mwanga in 1896, being left behind by his father, was placed upon the throne; previously he had been baptized by the name of Daudi. Mwanga was proclaimed an outlaw. In September of the same year the Mohammedans plotted a revolt, but by the action of the authorities the rebellion was nipped in the bud. In December Mwanga escaped from the Germans, who had made themselves responsible for his imprisonment, and again gathered a force in Budu, but was once more defeated and remained a fugitive.
Then a still more serious event occurred. Some Sudanese troops, brought into the country a few years previously as a police force, suddenly broke out into open mutiny against the British Government. This spread consternation throughout the whole protectorate. The rebels seized a fort in Busoga, and, being fully armed and trained soldiers, were a most serious menace. On their occupation of the stronghold they captured two European civilians and a British officer who went to them to endeavour to make terms. These they cruelly murdered. Fortunately, a few of the Sudanese companies scattered through the country remained loyal, for otherwise there is little doubt that the whole country would have fallen into their hands. As it was, for nine months serious fighting and loss of life took place. Several British officers were killed, and in the Uganda native army many of the best of the Christian leaders lost their lives.
It was during this rebellion that a great loss befell the Mission. George Pilkington was shot. With several other missionaries he had voluntarily offered his services to the commanding officer. As his knowledge of the native language was the best in the country, and his unbounded friendship with the natives a great asset at such a time, he was asked to act as a go-between, so that the wishes and orders of the commander might be thoroughly understood by the native army. He was shot while accompanying a clearing party of natives in a banana garden close to the lake shore. Surrounded by his native friends, helping them in their time of trouble--he would not have chosen a better end. But his loss was tremendous and the whole of Uganda mourned. What finer testimony than this, that he laid down his life for his friends?
It has been said that the Baganda lack the deeper feelings of affection, and that their demonstrations of friendliness are only due to their native custom of politeness to strangers; but there was no mistaking their affection for Pilkington. When Henry Wright Duta, one of the first of his people to be ordained, and a man of great influence, wrote: "We all shed tears, we cried our eyes out," he was expressing the feelings of the whole of the native population.
I buried Pilkington on the battlefield, in the evening of the day of his death, and saw the little crowd that gathered at the grave-side. Strong men from the battle, hardened to the bloodshed and vileness of war, bowed their heads and wept. Here was Uganda's prime minister, one who had rejoiced in Pilkington's brotherly love; as he stood by the open grave his tears were unchecked--he had lost a dear friend. Here also stood Aloni, the faithful servant who had been with his master during the last moments of consciousness on the battlefield, and had comforted him by saying: "My master, he that belicveth in Christ, although he die, yet shall he live." "Yes, my child," Pilkington had whispered with his last breath, "it is as you say--shall never die."
By the end of 1898 the mutineers had been either captured or dispersed, and the country was once more quiet. In the days of peace that followed for Uganda the seed already sown began to spring into abundant life. The number of native teachers doubled within a year and reached the total of 2000, and year by year their ranks were augmented. Here let it be said that all these teachers were supported by the native Church, not one cent of foreign money going to this purpose. The earnest desire of the Uganda Mission from the very first has been to make the Uganda Church self-supporting, self-governing, and self-extending, and up to the time of writing this ideal has been maintained.
WE have briefly traced the early history of the Uganda Mission up to the time that the Church was firmly established in the country. It now remains to show how the Church has grown and extended its influence. No one who knew Uganda twenty-five or thirty years ago, and knows it to-day, could ever deny that Christian missions have been the means of absolutely revolutionizing the whole country. Heathenism in large areas has entirely disappeared, Mohammedanism has been baffled, and the majority of the population of the kingdom of Buganda itself has become Christian, at any rate in name. Nearly all the leading chiefs are baptized men, and the country is covered with a network of Christian schools and churches. A native Church has been raised up by God with its own ministers and teachers, and all education so far is in the hands of the Christian missions.
The history of the beautiful cathedral on Namirembe, the "Hill of Peace," may be taken as a sign that the country has been won for God. The promoter of that great building was denied the joy of seeing its completion, but who can say that he was not present in spirit on the day of its consecration? Bishop Tucker's great aim in life was to win Central Africa for Christ, and this cathedral was to be, as it were, the crowning glory of the country that had passed through so much in its struggles for the dawn, a monument erected as a sign to all that the religion of Jesus Christ was henceforward to be the guiding light for all who in the darkness had lost the way. On Saturday, 13 September, 1919, the consecration of the beautiful church of St. Paul took place in the presence of a vast congregation.
The present building is the fifth church to be erected on Namirembe Hill. In 1890, upon the arrival of Bishop Tucker in the country, the mission station was built, not on the top of the hill, but at the foot. In those days none but the king or members of the royal family were allowed to build on the tops of hills. The first church was planned and built near the mission station entirely by the natives; it was roughly cruciform, but the rain always poured in at the angles of the roof when a storm broke. Nearly 1000 people were able to pack themselves into this building, not needing as much room as they do now with their fine clothes! Many members of the congregation would come with their guns or spears on account of the troubles of the time.
The site was found to be inconvenient and unhealthy, and, public opinion having somewhat changed, it was decided to move the houses of the missionaries higher up the hill and to build the church on the top. This was done, and again the church was entirely designed and built by the natives themselves. It was an immense barn-like structure, the roof being supported by a forest of tree trunks carried in from the country by hundreds of men. This building was but short lived; opened in 1892, it was swept away by a hurricane in 1894. Archdeacon Walker, who was teaching a class in the vestry at the time, narrowly escaped with his life. As he ran out, he said he saw "the poles snapping off like so many carrots."
A similar building was put up to replace this one, in 1895; but the Baganda Christians, wishing for something of a. permanent nature, decided in 1901 to pull it down and put up a church of brick. And now for the first time it was necessary for them to seek European help, not to save themselves the cost and trouble of building, but to assist them by advice and superintendence to build something better than they could produce unaided.
Mr. K. E. Borup, who was at that time director of the industrial work of the C.M.S., was asked to undertake this project, and his time and services were gladly lent by the Society. He designed and carried through, from start to finish, the beautiful building which combined stability of structure with true African types of ornaments and decoration. Once again the whole cost of the building was borne by the Uganda Church. This building was consecrated by the late Bishop Tucker on 21 June, 1904, and became the first cathedral church of the diocese of Uganda. Alas! no roofing material was available in those days to render a large building fireproof, and the cathedral was struck by lightning, and the roof entirely destroyed, on 23 September, 1910. The Bishop had just left for England. The sad news reached him at Aden, and the sympathy of his fellow passengers led to their subscribing £40 there and then towards a new building. This was the nucleus of the £10,000 which Bishop Tucker collected during his year in England, and presented to the Uganda Church as a token of sympathy from their fellow Christians in England.
Plans for a new cathedral were soon drawn up on a far more pretentious scale than for any previous building in Uganda. The design is simple--cruciform, with a dome in the centre supported by four stone pillars of local sandstone. The rest of the building is of burnt brick. Beyond the dome the choir or chancel is reached by five steps. The chancel is enclosed by six beautiful screens at the sides and backed by a carved reredos, the whole of which, together with the Holy Table, was the work of boys from the Maseno High School, Kavirondo. The service of consecration was practically the same as that used in the diocese for the consecration of churches, but somewhat expanded. The petition to consecrate was by the Governor's permission presented by His Honour the Chief Justice, and signed by him and also by H.H. the Kabaka, the Mukamas of Bunyoro and Toro, and representative chiefs and clergy from every part of the diocese. Archdeacon Baskerville thus wrote of the consecration: "Once more the diocese has a cathedral church, the mother of some 2000 churches scattered throughout its length and breadth. Some of us were contrasting the time, thirty years before, when the old grass building at the foot of the hill was the only house of God in the country. Then Busoga, Bunyoro, Ankole, and Toro had not heard the Gospel; now their kings and leading chiefs were with us, joining in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. One church has become 2000; seventy communicants have grown to 40,000; then there were 200 baptized Christians, now they exceed 100,000. What hath God wrought!"
Many other beautiful churches have been built throughout the country, permanent buildings replacing the temporary mud or reed churches which had answered their purpose so well. But the glory of the diocese is its personnel. African clergy, sixty in number, are now scattered through the diocese, while there are nearly 3800 lay agents, a large proportion of whom are well trained men. Of women teachers there are 210, and there are no fewer than 1745 out-stations where definite Christian teaching is constantly given. The total number of baptized Christians is 114,000 and is increasing at the rate of over 1000 a year; over 12,000 are preparing for baptism. Native contributions to the Church now amount to close upon Rs 50,000 per annum (£5000). [The above figures are those for the whole Uganda Mission with Kavirondo (ch. viii), which formed part of the diocese of Uganda until December, 1920, when it was transferred to that of Mombasa.]
The, school work is ever growing, and more than 90,000 children are under daily instruction.
There are large day schools at all the important centres, and hundreds of little village schools. High schools for boys are carried on in Buganda, Toro, Busoga, Ankole, Kavirondo, and Bunyoro.
The teaching of the children was begun in a mixed school at Mengo, the capital of Uganda, in the year 1895, but it was soon found that better results would be obtained if the boys and girls were separated. This was done, and later, some of the chiefs not having the control over their boys that they should have, it was suggested that a boarding school should be started. With the splendid help, therefore, of the Baganda chiefs the Mengo High School was built and opened in the year 1905. Elementary education was carried on at first, but later the standard was raised. Drawing, woodwork, etc., were introduced, physical and military drill were begun, and gymnastics, swimming, and football started as games. The lads were made to cultivate the land, and generally to learn how to use their hands. The fees were then Rs 30 per annum. Upon these lines the school has grown. In the singing competitions and in school sports Mengo High School usually leads the way. The boys are supposed to leave the school when they reach the age of 16, and many of them are now filling posts as chiefs. The greatest number on the roll has been 150; at the present time the number is eighty. The fees are now Rs 90.
A few years ago a new school was started, called the central school; this seems fast to be taking the place of the high school; both as boarding schools have the great advantage of keeping the boys under proper supervision, which cannot be guaranteed in an ordinary day school. The central school has the great attraction that English is taught there. This school now has on the roll the names of nearly 500 boys. The fees are Rs 12 a year. The standard of work done is very high, and is entirely in the care of a Muganda clergyman.
These schools have become very popular in Uganda. The masters have generally been trained at Budo.
The King's School, Budo, was started in the year 1906, and it supplied at once a very urgent need. With the advance of civilization has grown the demand for a higher form of education. The chiefs, who now have to keep records of all their court cases, to be submitted to the Government, must of necessity have clerks who can write a good hand and do some arithmetic. Also, the Government needed interpreters and clerks of good intelligence. In addition to this, it was felt that the future chiefs of the country should be men of education, with broader views of life than those commonly found in the country. This school was founded, therefore, for the special benefit of the chiefs, who desired their sons to be properly taught to meet the requirements of the future as well as the demands of the present.
It was largely due to the enterprise of the late Bishop Tucker that this important school was started. From his diocesan fund he supplied the initial cost of the first buildings. These have been added to from time to time. The Mackay Memorial, for the manual training of the boys, was built by special subscriptions in the year 1908--a fitting monument, indeed, to the memory of one who by the work of his hands glorified God. In 1914 the late Bishop Wilkinson of Northern Europe visited the school and gave a chapel, which was beautifully built, and is one of the finest of the smaller buildings in the country. Considerable developments are now under consideration, and it is felt that the school should reach an even wider class of boys who are anxious for advancement.
The school was opened with about thirty boys, but now there are about ninety, and many are waiting to get in as soon as there is sufficient accommodation. During the war the Budo boys did magnificent work, giving of their best. Over fifty of them volunteered their services as soon as war broke out. In October, 1914, twenty-five of them were sent off, among them being the king's brother, Yusufu Suna. Some of these boys served with much distinction. To give but one instance, I would mention the case of a boy who went to the front with the late Archdeacon Chadwick. He was a boy who did not shine as a scholar. However, he went through the whole campaign and came out with much honour. He fought on the lake, where he gained the Military Medal; went right through to Nyasaland down to Lorenzo Marques; and rose to be a staff-sergeant.
The great aim of the school is the moulding of character, and this is sought, not merely by book study, but by industrial work and also by games of all sorts. Many of the boys take up definite church work when they leave Budo, and in 1919 over thirty of the old boys were teaching in high schools and central schools throughout the diocese. The course covers three years of three terms each, with entrance and leaving examinations.
Only one European is at present in charge of the work of this school, and a second man is urgently needed. When we think of the very large staff with which the Roman Catholic schools in Uganda are equipped, we feel that if the training of the young men is to be at all adequate to the needs of the country, and to bear comparison with the education given in the Roman Mission, further help must be sent. For years past the Governments of British East Africa and Uganda have given grants to schools whose pupils can pass the official tests in carpentry and other crafts. The desire is to extend this work and the Government asks for missionary co-operation. It is amply proved to Europeans who have seen their work that Africans, who but a few years ago were naked savages, are capable of great development in this direction. Can we possibly doubt the opportunity?
As compared with the ten high schools for boys in the Protectorate, all of them boarding schools, there are only three for girls--at Gayaza in Buganda, at Kabarole in Toro, and at Iganga in Busoga. But real progress is being made. At Gayaza, for instance, whereas in 1905 there were thirteen boarders, in 1920 there were 120. The education given to the girls is largely of a practical character, designed to make them useful wives and good mothers. All the housework, cooking, sweeping, and making of school uniforms is done by the pupils. The Gayaza girls also engage in a good deal of industrial work, such as the making of mats, baskets, and matting bags, in addition, of course, to plain and fancy sewing; and the cultivation of banana gardens occupies part of their time every morning. There is only one paid Muganda teacher in this school. When a pupil reaches the highest class, she begins again as the teacher of the lowest form and gradually works her way up from class to class in her new capacity.
Many of the girls who have passed out of these high schools are vying with the young men in missionary zeal. For example, some of the girls at the Gayaza boarding school set themselves, some time ago, to the winning of others for Christ in the outlying districts; now they are in charge of the schools at Kikoma, Iganga, Kamuli, Mukono, Mityana, and Masindi. During August, 1919, one of these girls wrote to her friends a letter of which the following is a translation:--
I entreat you not to go back. Those at Kikoma are crying for some one to go there in the place of Meyi Musoke. Dear friends, we are indeed guilty; it is as if our lamp is buried in the earth, Think of this--she who wants to be married soon is not likely to be strong in the work.
The boys of Budo are much better than we in giving themselves; they do not leave a school unless there is some one to take their place and, it is perfectly true, they have more places than we have to fill in high schools and central schools. There is not one school left to itself in which there was a Budo "old boy," but there are many of ours. Who will come here in Merabu's place? Let her not be afraid, she will come back with me. Is there any one who likes to turn back when she is going forward? Arise! Arise! Look, the house we were building is falling! No one will like to sleep out of doors. Let us get up, and hold up the pillars of the house which we are building.
Well, friends, what do you think? Is the country able to go forward with men only? Not at all; all are needed together. As the Budo boys make themselves strong, let us strengthen ourselves also. See how the English men and women are nearly equal in everything they do. Let everything we do help our school and nation. Shall it be said that the Gayaza school does not fulfil what it promised? God forbid.
It was not until the year 1897 that medical missionary work was seriously taken in hand in Uganda. In that year a mission hospital was opened on the hill of Namirembe, and from its very inception it has abundantly justified its existence. Indeed, the whole Mission feels that the hospital represents one of the most important and impressive features of the work in Uganda. It has grown in a most amazing manner, until to-day its value is recognized by government officer, planter, and business man as a grand monument of practical Christianity in a once heathen land.
In March, 1900, a new hospital, designed for fifty beds, was begun. Before the year was out it was augmented by two extra wards. The attendances of out-patients at the dispensary rose from 12,999 m J897 to 33,983 in 1900; 511 in-patients were received in the latter year as compared with 113 in 1897. On the night of 28 November, 1902, lightning struck the hospital and it was completely destroyed. A new substantial brick building, with accommodation for 103 beds, was completed on the second anniversary of the conflagration, and was opened by the Acting Commissioner of Uganda. During the war the Mengo hospital became a base hospital for the government troops, and two extra wards were built. To give some idea of the greatness of the work a glance at the figures for 1920 will suffice; operations numbered 1086, in-patients 2280, and visits of out-patients 46,036.
No record of the work in Uganda would be complete without some mention of that among the women. The women of Uganda have themselves taken a prominent part in the work among their sisters. When the first women missionaries arrived in 1895 they found at least sixteen native women employed in teaching, and taking women's baptism and confirmation classes. Some of them are still helpers after twenty-five years; though not now teaching regularly, they are still ready to be called on when help is needed. Four or five have passed home, one of them while actively employed at a distant station. One of this first band of teachers has been a most valuable worker in Bunyoro, outside Uganda proper, for nineteen years. She is greatly loved and respected. For the last six years she has kept at work without one visit to see her people. Another of these was the first woman worker in Busoga, east of the Nile. She had the honour of being the first woman to offer for foreign missionary service, but since then many others have followed in her steps, working not only in Busoga, but in countries far more distant, in Bukedi, Kavirondo, and Ankole, as well as in nearer districts such as Budu and Koki. In Koki an excellent woman has worked for the last ten years under a native pastor.
The help these women have given in distant stations has been invaluable, some working with the missionaries, but the larger number alone in country districts, visiting, teaching, and being generally the women's friends and helpers. It is difficult to see how the evangelization of the women could have been carried on without them, poorly paid as they have been, putting up with many discomforts, often with a new language to learn, yet working on with true Christian nobility and whole-heartedness for the Master Whom they love and serve.
Teachers' classes for the training of these women have been held in different centres, when there has been a woman missionary available to take them; but during the last two or three years this work has not been as large as it was, partly from the scarcity of missionaries, but more especially because there is a strong demand now for better educated women for the work. The spread of Christianity and the enormous growth of education throughout the whole country, have raised the standard. The evangelistic teacher in the past, often poorly educated, herself in secular knowledge, but with at times a wonderful acquaintance with the New Testament, is now required to pass an educational test. Schools have become the most important feature of the work. Besides the large schools in central places for both boys and girls, each little village has its school, wherever possible, the boys and girls being entirely separate. This has created a need that those women teachers who are sent out into the country should not only act as Bible women, but should also be qualified to take charge of the work in the girls' schools as well. For this a woman is required who has herself passed through a school.
At present we are feeling the break caused by the passing away of the old style of teacher, and await the time when the younger and better educated women will be available to enter the work. The difficulty is largely being met by sending out from the principal girls' schools those who, being trained in the methods of teaching, are able to take charge of small country schools. Their work in many places has been excellent, but matrimony steps in and rightly claims many, thus depriving the school of its worker, and making constant changes a necessity.
The status and tone of the women of the country have greatly changed during the last twenty years, owing no doubt to the opening up of the country, the inrush of civilization, European influence and example, the increase in wealth and prosperity, the number of shops with foreign goods of every description, and the immense growth in the Indian population, with their small shops springing up everywhere. Each and all of these, with many other influences besides, have contributed to effect a change in the life and character of the Muganda woman. In the old days she was shut up within a fence, life, movement, and all outlook being narrowly restricted; now she is free to move about as she likes. For many of the ungoverned characters freedom has come in too quickly, before Christianity has implanted the strength and uprightness of character necessary to use it aright. To these, freedom and liberty unrestrained have brought licence and a looseness of life and morals that are doing great harm throughout the country. Along with the evil there is the antidote. Good Christian women there are everywhere, women whose lives show the truth of their knowledge of God and their love for Him, women whose quiet lives and example cannot fail in influence on other lives around, women, too, who are fearless in their rebuke of sin and their upholding of all that is pure and good. Christian homes, both among the older Christians and also among the younger married couples, are everywhere to be found, which must tell, by God's blessing, in their witness and in the setting up of a higher standard of life and morals throughout the country.
The surest sign of life in any Church is found in its efforts to pass on to others the good things which it has itself received, and in this respect the Uganda Church has been faithful. From its very beginning its missionary service has been well to the front. In the earlier days it was noticeable that the brightest and best among the Christians--no matter what their position might be in the country, whether chief or peasant, rich or poor--all seemed to vie with each other in their earnestness in preaching to others. Who among us who were privileged to be in the country at that time will ever forget the open-air village services? Accompanied by three or four of these keen young Christians, the missionary would start off in the early morning and, a good centre being reached, the village drum would be beaten and the crowds collected and a simple service held in the open air. One after another these young evangelists would tell with all their native eloquence how God
had sent His Son to rescue the world from sin, and how He wanted all men to come to Him and be saved. Such services were crowned with blessing. Often they resulted in the immediate building of a church or reading-room, and invariably the request was made: "Let one of these Christians remain here and teach us more about God." Books were always sold, and eagerness to learn to read was displayed everywhere.
Never shall I forget the day when, at one of these open-air meetings in the Nakanyonyi district, the greatest ruffian of the country was brought to Christ. We were conducting one of these informal services in the centre of a very large village under the shade of the banana trees, and while the writer was relating the pathetic story of the Prodigal Son, a great savage suddenly appeared carrying his spear and shield, and stood at the edge of the listening crowd. The people who sat near were evidently afraid of the stranger, and immediately moved away to one side, leaving this wild-looking figure by himself. When the story had been told, and the claims of the Lord Jesus had been pressed upon the hearers, the people got up to go to their homes. But the big African with the spear and shield came forward to the white man and, omitting the usual greeting, simply said: "I want to hear more of those beautiful words." Again the story was repeated to this strange fellow, who seemed more and more impressed. The shades of night came down, and still he lingered. At last he said: "Teach me to read that book." Forthwith the first reading lesson began, the letters of the alphabet being carefully studied. At last he rose to go, but said at parting: "I shall come back to-morrow morning." He came, and for many days he came, and at last learned to read for himself and, best of all, like a little child he asked forgiveness for all his sins and found peace in the Lord Jesus. Who was this man? What do we know of his past history? He was called Kikwaku; he was a highway robber, a murderer, and an outlaw. He lived in a great forest close at hand, and was well known and greatly feared by all the people of the district. Behold him now kneeling at the feet of Jesus! From that day forward he was a changed man. His old life was utterly given up, and as a proof of this he brought one day his shield and spear and, presenting them to me, said: "I have done with these now." He truly died to the sin of the past and became a most loving and gentle soul. His whole life was thenceforth given to God, and many a time he took long and difficult journeys to far-off places in order that he might tell to others how great things the Lord had done for him. So was the seed sown by the wayside, and so did God give the increase.
The Uganda Church soon began to send its teachers into lands previously untouched. The wonderful story of Toro and of Mboga (in the Belgian Congo) will always have its romantic interest for the student of missions. More than 200 miles from Mengo are the wonderful mountains of Ruwenzori, almost exactly on the equator, and towering up above the surrounding country with an altitude at their highest point of nearly 17,000 feet. These snow fields, glaciers, and glistening peaks are among the finest sights in the world. At the base of the mountains dwell the Batoro, a Lunyoro-speaking tribe, once the subjects of the king of Bunyoro, but since the year 1891 forming a separate kingdom. [The people of Toro. Lunyoro is the language of Bunyoro, the inhabitants being known as Banyoro.] A prince of the royal house of Bunyoro was made king, or "mukama" as he is locally called, his name being Kasagama.
In the year 1894, when the missionary spirit was first really awakened in the Uganda Church, two Baganda teachers set out for this distant land, and took up their abode there with the mukama's brother, Yafesi, who lived about twenty miles from the capital of Toro. A remarkable eagerness immediately showed itself on the part of the people to learn about God and to read His Word. In 1895 the Mukama of Toro was called up to Mengo by the British official in answer to certain charges; he was able to clear himself, and during that visit he expressed a desire to be baptized. After due preparation and instruction he was admitted into the Church on 15 March, 1896, taking the name of Daudi (David). He then returned to his own country, full of zeal for the evangelization of his people. In May of the same year Bishop Tucker paid a visit to the country, accompanied by the Rev. A. B. Fisher, and the first baptisms in Toro took place. At once the Church began to grow, and in a very little while was sending its own evangelists to every village. There was a keen desire also to send the Gospel to the countries still in darkness bordering on the Toro country, and when the writer arrived in July of that same year a little missionary band was found ready to set out for still more distant lands.
The story of Apolo, the evangelist, and of his faithful missionary service for the Master, amid untold suffering and privation, will never be fully known, but in order that the reader may have an idea of the keenness of these early Christians a short resume of his life may well be given here. A converted opium smoker, at one time working along with a heathen witchdoctor, he entered the service of God with but little education, and offered himself as a missionary to the country of Mboga, sixty miles to the west of Toro, in the Congo territory and close to the great, dark forest of Stanley fame, where the pigmies dwell. In the company of another young man, also from Uganda, he set out on his long travel across the Semliki plains, and after an adventurous journey reached the village of the paramount chief of the district.
At first he was looked upon with great suspicion as a possible envoy of the king of Buganda. But soon, by his loving ways, he won an entrance into the hearts of the people. The chief after a time became jealous of his success, and threatened him with all sorts of horrors if he did not stop his teaching and clear out of the country. Apolo bravely faced the danger and never swerved from his purpose of making Christ known among the heathen. Another warning was sent, but still he persevered. Then at last the chief sent men, and had him caught and dragged before him, only to be told by the fearless Apolo that, as God had sent him and was his Master, he must obey His commands at any cost. He was then brutally thrashed, and sent back to his hut in a bruised and mutilated condition with a threat of worse things to follow if he refused to obey. But Apolo had a heart of gold, and his love for these people was so great that stripes and imprisonments had no terrors for him, and he went on with the teaching and preaching as before. Again he was hauled before the chief, and this time was unmercifully treated. First, he was thrashed with a hippopotamus-hide whip until the blood spurted from his poor, lacerated back, and then, in an unconscious state, he was carried off and thrown into the long grass as one dead. The chief remarked at the time: "If he is not dead, the wild beasts will soon get him."
But God in His infinite love watched over the poor broken soldier of the Cross, and while in this apparently dying condition, he suddenly became aware of the presence of an old woman who stood looking at him with tears running down her face. It appears that she was one who had been taught by him about the Lord Jesus Christ. She saw that her friend was still alive, and with great effort at last got him secretly to her own hut, and there she dressed his wounds and nursed him. After many days he was once more able to look after himself. She begged him to escape for his life and return at once to Uganda; but such was the wonderful love of this dear fellow that, rather than escape he chose to go back to the village and continue his work, in spite of the awful risks he ran. Go back he did. Slowly and painfully he made his way along that forest path to the little church that he had previously built with his own hands. To the amazement of all the people who believed him to be dead long since, he once more stood up before the crowd that collected and preached Christ crucified, yea rather, risen again. The chief was soon informed of his return to the sacred house, and he was amazed and frightened, as he was convinced that Apolo had been devoured by the wild beasts. So sceptical was he of the truth of the story as told to him, that he went himself to the church and there saw that Apolo was truly alive. He could hardly believe his eyes. At last, convinced that it was really he, he fell upon his knees before all the people and asked Apolo to forgive him.
This was the beginning of great things in Mboga. Only a short time ago, when I visited the country to see the work and to greet once more my dear friend, Apolo, I found a Church of 300 baptized Christians, and three missionary churches in the district, supplied with Mboga teachers. A fine school also had been built, Apolo himself being the architect, and some hundreds of children were in daily attendance. Apolo, now an ordained minister, is as full of love and zeal as ever, and is simply adored by the people of Mboga.
This is a typical instance of how the work of God grows from a live Church.
In the meantime the Toro work itself had flourished exceedingly, and from the fifteen Christians baptized in 1896 the numbers have gradually increased until now nearly 12,000 names are on the books. There are four native clergymen, six lay readers, a band of 150 Christian teachers, and between forty and fifty schoolmasters and mistresses. A beautiful brick church, with iron roof, has been built in the capital of Toro, and there are three large schools, and a well-equipped hospital and dispensary with resident doctor and nurses, besides from thirty to forty village schools run by Toro teachers. The whole Bible has been translated into Lunyoro.
In 1901 women missionaries were sent to Toro, and their work among the women and children has long been the outstanding feature of the mission. A girls' school was started nearly twenty years ago, and has developed steadily. As many as 600 girls are in more or less regular attendance at the day school, and the work is divided into three sections. There are seventy boarders at the boarding school, which is run in conjunction with the day school, and a school for the tiny tots is on kindergarten lines.
Among our most trusted Christian women is the mukama's wife, Damari, who from the very first has been a faithful worker. Another woman who impresses everybody by her whole-hearted sincerity is Ana Kagei, once the mukama's witch and a desperate character. She was brought to Christ twenty-five years ago, and for the past twenty years has been a great worker for God among the women and girls. At first she was feared by all; now she is beloved as is no other woman in Toro.
Hospital work was first started in Toro in a very small way. A little reed building, used as a dispensary, was put up in 1895, and the medical work then done was of an amateurish sort. But the need was so great and the opportunities so unbounded that a small mud hospital was at last built and a resident doctor appointed. The work has now grown into a great institution for good in the country. For fifteen years there has been regular work under the foreign doctor, and now a beautiful brick hospital with accommodation for 100 patients has taken the place of the old mud building. In the year 1914 an European ward was added and has fully justified its existence, and later still was added a special ward for natives of India, of whom there are a great number in the country as traders and government clerks. A large brick dispensary was built in 1918, and regular Christian teaching goes on here day by day as the people from all parts of the country come for medicine.
In the year 1895 another country opened its doors to the missionary. As the result of a first visit, a favourable impression had been formed of the possibility of extending Christ's Kingdom in Bunyoro. For a long time the country had been closed to the messengers of the Gospel. The king of the country, Kabarega by name, being quite convinced that the white man, who had supported the rebellious prince and given him the province of Toro as a separate kingdom, was his bitter enemy, made up his mind to fight the white man to the end; but eventually Kabarega was captured and a new king, one of his own sons, was placed upon the throne. Then it was that the whole country was thrown open, and the missionaries were not slow in taking advantage of the new opportunity for extension.
From the first the work was difficult, as the people were still very suspicious and many of them hid in the forests and in the long grass. However, the influence of the few chiefs who became Christians soon began to tell, and the country was gradually opened up. The first big church was built at Hoima, at that time the capital of Bunyoro, in 1902, taking the place of a small reed structure. Teachers were soon sent out into the district in large numbers, and young Banyoro were entered in training classes as future missionaries to their own people. Fifty little churches were speedily built all over the country, and the work grew apace.
The joy of the Toro people upon learning that the Banyoro had received the message of salvation was very pathetic. Long will be remembered the visit paid to Bunyoro by the king of Toro together with many of his leading chiefs. A special service was held in the church at the time of this visit, and it developed into a testimony meeting. One after another of the visitors got up and told the crowd that had collected how great things the Lord had done for them, and urged the Banyoro to make Him their King. One said: "The last time we came to you here in this country we came with spears and shields in our hands and hatred in our hearts; now we stand before you with God's Word in our hands and His love in our hearts." Nothing but the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ could have effected such a change. The Toro Church subsequently sent some of its best teachers to Bunyoro to help in the evangelization of that country, among the number being a brother-in-law of the king of Toro himself. Bunyoro soon began to shake herself free from the awful superstition of the past, and a new day dawned. It was not long before the infant Church was able to supply its own teachers, and the Baganda and Batoro who had so nobly given their aid withdrew to other spheres of work.
In 1902 the young king, Yosiya, proved to be weak and unfitted for the position of ruler. He was deposed by the Government at the request of the leading chiefs, and another son of Kabarega, a much more vigorous character and a true Christian man, was put in his place. The new king, Andereya, who from the day of his baptism had been an active worker for God, caused great changes to take place in the country. Witchcraft and drunkenness were boldly tackled in a determined effort to stamp them out. For a long while the former had a firm grip upon the people, and in almost every compound and household was to be found a small devil hut, often several, built at the entrance. Charms were worn and fearful acts of cruelty were performed, especially upon little children, with the idea of dispelling the evil spirits. Sometimes great gashes would be made on various parts of the body, or a hot iron applied, often burning the flesh to the very bone, to drive out some imaginary spirit that was troubling the little one. It was estimated that at least eighty per cent of the children died before reaching the age of one year, and so the population was rapidly decreasing. These practices were soon made illegal by the new king, and a happier state of things developed.
Often in itinerating through the country the missionary would be faced by a good deal of hostility from the witch doctors, who, feeling that their power and influence were challenged, became more and more aggressive. At one place visited by the writer in 1901 a serious drought had brought the people to the verge of starvation. All their crops had failed. They had applied constantly to the witch doctor of the district to send them rain, but without avail. With one accord they came to the missionary and told him how they had paid a heavy price to the mucwezi (witch doctor), and nothing had come of it. Could the white man's God send the rain? It was a tremendous test of faith. But "man's extremity is God's opportunity"; hardly had the people left off speaking when a dark cloud appeared, and in less than an hour abundant rain fell. "Just mere chance," some would say, or "a strange coincidence;" but to those concerned there was no other possible explanation than this: God answers prayer.
To-day there are more than 4000 Christians in Bunyoro. There are two beautiful churches, the one in Hoima, and the other in Masindi, the new capital of the country, and about a hundred village churches are scattered over the various populous districts. There are also four African clergy. At Masindi a very fine school has been built in memory of Kabarega, the ex-king, a man who was greatly admired because of his unflinching bravery and firm belief in his cause. He was convinced that the white man desired to take his country from him, and so he fought the aggressor to the bitter end. At last, wounded and beaten in the fight, he was taken off as a political prisoner to the Seychelles Islands, where he still is. He is in constant communication with his son, the present king, and in 1904 asked that a teacher might be sent to him from his own country who might tell him about the love of God. This was done, and before long Kabarega was baptized.
Like its mother Church, the Church of Bunyoro became entirely self-supporting. Missionary work developed, and Bulega, which is on the west of Lake Albert, was the first place to welcome teachers. Later, another sphere was opened for the energies of the Banyoro Christians in the Gang Country, across the Nile to the north. Native missionaries, full of zeal, were sent and the Good News carried to these heathen lands.
Among the Bulega hills there was a large colony of Lunyoro-speaking people, and it was chiefly to reach these that Bunyoro sent out its teachers. They worked with considerable success, and many converts were added to the Church and baptized, among others, the paramount chief of the country, and through his influence a large district was opened up to the Gospel. Alas, a severe disaster occurred about the year 1910, when another tribe, the Balega, from which the country takes its name, attacked the little band of Christians and blotted out nearly the whole lot of them. The few that remained, however, have not been idle, and at the time of writing the information comes that the work has spread farther west, and is now being fostered and helped by the Africa Inland Mission, which started work there a few years ago.
MEANTIME the work had grown and spread out to other tribes.
Busoga, which, as the scene of his death, will always be associated with the name of Bishop Hannington, is a country rather more than half the size of Wales, with a population J.of some 250,000. The people are descended from the same race as the Baganda, and are closely akin to them; their language and customs are similar, and they used to have the same system of feudal government. The Basoga have generally been considered'inferior intellectually to the Baganda, but superior to the Wakavirondo living on their eastern boundary. However, now that all these tribes have almost equal opportunities for education, there is a levelling up of mental ability and attainment, so that any general statement of the superiority of one tribe or nation over another could easily be met in these modern times with outstanding exceptions disproving it.
The Basoga at one time were expert and noted thieves, and when caravans passed through the southern part of the country, scarcely one escaped without being attacked at night by these skilful robbers. The people made themselves hopelessly drunk and fuddled by the constant use of native beer (mwenge), and by smoking Indian hemp; this latter was especially demoralizing, for it left the victim apathetic and helpless till its effects had worn off. Polygamy was practised, and many of the important chiefs had from 300 to 400 wives each. From an economic point of view, apart from the moral one, this was a very bad thing for the country, for many of the bakopi, or peasants, could not obtain wives, the girls having been appropriated by the chiefs, and if a peasant could find a wife, he could not afford the money, or "dowry" to buy one.
Busoga has had a somewhat chequered history. Before the advent of the European the country was constantly harassed by the raiding expeditions of the Baganda, and from time to time thousands of the women and children, after a bloody battle, were deported to Uganda. And the coming of the European did not bring immunity from trials. Busoga bore the brunt of a Sudanese rebellion in 1897; sleeping sickness ravaged the country bordering on the lake, claiming its hundreds of thousands; a smallpox epidemic in 1900, followed by a famine in 1901, and again in 1907, all claimed a heavy toll of human life; indeed, so many have been carried off by the awful scourges that it is a wonder that any Basoga are left to-day. They must be a virile race, for this is one of the few countries in the Uganda Protectorate in which the native population is actually increasing.
After the death of Hannington in 1885 nothing was done to evangelize the Basoga from Uganda till 1891, when Mr. F. C. Smith was sent there with two Baganda teachers to a chief called Wakoli. Smith met with many trials, twice he nearly lost his life, and before long he had to withdraw to Uganda, and soon after was invalided home.
The Rev. J. Roscoe for a short time in 1892 occupied Luba's. Then, in March, 1893, the Baganda held a solemn valedictory meeting in Mengo to bid farewell to three Baganda missionaries going to Busoga. In 1895 the Rev. Allen Wilson was located to Busoga, and happily has been able to remain there ever since.
The increase among the native Christians has been most remarkable. The native converts and adherents now number 8051, with another 5000 children taught in the twenty-seven Christian schools. The number of churches is 309, and for these there are 365 laymen and eighteen women as teachers. Quite recently a Musoga has been ordained, the first in the country, and others are in the ordination class.
So far, owing to lack of workers, comparatively little has been done to bring the women into the Church, and it is a serious fact that only ten per cent of the confirmation candidates are women. The Roman Catholic Mission, on the other hand, is making considerable progress among the women.
The Basoga support the 300 lay agents from their native contributions; they elect to the parochial and ruridecanal church councils and to the synod of the Church of Uganda, and Basoga missionaries have gone to Kavirondo, Bukedi, and Teso.
The archdeaconry of Bukedi includes all the area (with the exception of Kigezi) in the Uganda Protectorate which comes under the jurisdiction of the Board of Missions of the Church of Uganda. Its population falls into three main racial divisions. There is, first, the more or less degraded Bantu stock, which includes the Bagwere, the Banyuli, and the once cannibal Bagisu. The two first-named tribes are relatively unimportant, but the last named are a large tribe occupying a small area on the western slopes of Mount Elgon, whither they are said to have been driven by the cattle-raiding of the Teso. Clan feeling is extremely strong among the Bagisu, and they are but little amenable to the authority of their chiefs; they are a degraded, animal type, though the extent to which their cannibal practices still obtain is not easy to ascertain, and each clan professes innocence and accuses some other. Among these primitive Bantus the women are much more independent than among the Baganda. Some time ago the Banyuli women struck against work on the cotton because they said that, while they did all the cultivation, the men took all the profits. They won their case, and it was ordered that in future each woman should receive a cloth from the cotton money.
The second racial group includes the Hamitic Teso and the people known as the Mbayi, a small section of the Nandi stock settled on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon, now much inter-married with the Bagisu. The Teso are an industrious, teachable tribe, distinguished by a cheerful disposition and a language difficult for foreigners to acquire. They have made very rapid progress under British administration, and most of the chiefs can now run their districts without the aid of the Baganda agents who were at first put in by the Government to instruct them. The cotton trade has gone forward by leaps and bounds, and the conditions resulting therefrom have made labour, which used to be obtainable to any extent, somewhat scarce. The men and women are pretty much on an equality, dividing the labour of food-producing, and associating to some extent in family life. Several of the chiefs have bought bicycles for their wives, who travel with them on their administrative rounds; most of them possess one or more European ploughs, and one or two have invested in motor-cycles.
In the third place, we have the Sudanian Gang, Lango, and Badama, all sections of the same independent stock, not anxious at first to learn new ways from anybody, but now coming rapidly into line. These tribes are usually fond of self-adornment and dancing. Keen hunters and raiders, they are not fond of submitting to authority in any form. Their women folk are on an entire equality with the men, and hen-pecked husbands are not unknown! The men do the digging, but the women control the food supplies once they are laid up in granaries. With the exception of the west Nile district and a considerable area north-east of Kitgum, the whole archdeaconry has been to some extent evangelize with a varying response.
In the year 1908 work was started among the Teso people. A small party of missionaries settled down in the heart of the country, and soon began to learn the language and accustom themselves to the peculiarities of the people. Amateur medical work seems first to have made a deep impression, and Teso folk came in great crowds with all kinds of sicknesses to be healed by the strange white man. Painless operations were performed, and sundry teeth extracted with the use of forceps, thus supplanting the native method of using a pointed piece of metal as a punch, with any convenient block of wood as a mallet. As the language was gradually learned, the teaching advanced, until a little band of boys and men had come to love the Word of God and to sing some Christian hymns. A boarding school for boys was started and about thirty lads installed. The teaching of agriculture was the special feature of this school. The thirst for knowledge spread rapidly, and a string of over a hundred village schools was brought into being. Native missionaries from Busoga and Buganda were sent off to these schools, and there was no lack of eagerness on the part of the people of the country to avail themselves of the opportunity of learning about God.
Islam seems to have but little attraction for the Teso people, in spite of the prevalence of polygamy. Even the chiefs hold aloof, although many of them have large numbers of wives; one who died recently left 119 as part of his estate! The early work among this tribe, before the advent of European missionaries, was all done in Luganda, and the results were very small. The introduction of literature in their own language was immediately followed by a great increase in the number of readers, and the danger at the present time is that arising from mere numbers when persecution and even opposition are almost unknown. The women here are still very much behind the men, and the girls even more so. This is largely due to the attitude of the fathers, who are afraid lest their daughters may become too independent. There is a growing demand in the district for educated boys--the chiefs need clerks to help them with their work, and this is to some extent supplied by the Ng'ora agricultural school.
A considerable work is proceeding among the Banyuli and Bagwere, the latter of whom are a good deal intermixed with Teso. The Bagisu are the tribe most in danger from the influence of Islam, owing to the fact that circumcision is an old tribal custom. In consequence of this it is said that the Mohammedans have introduced an initiation ceremony closely resembling baptism, in which water is poured on to the convert. Christian work among the Bagisu was for a long time very slow, and almost confined to the few around the mission station, Nabumale. Now there is a great demand for instruction, mostly in Luganda. The influence of the Baganda is very strong, and they are looked up to generally as representatives of a more advanced race; to read is to become a Muganda--a superior person, hence the preference for Luganda. An unusual feature of the work in this country has been the preponderance in the past of female readers, but the numbers are now pretty equal. The Bagisu do not seem at all intelligent, and the teachers complain of their slowness to learn.
In the Gang Country even more success can be recorded. During my residence in Bunyoro in the year 1903, a strange party visited Hoima. It came from the north, and consisted of about thirty wild-looking men of Nilotic type. They had been sent by their king with the request that the Banyoro Christians would send teachers to their country. Five of these stalwart natives came to my house and presented a letter written by the king of Bunyoro as an introduction. The letter read: "These men have come from far away, from the great country called Gang, to the north of Bunyoro, across the Nile. They are sent by their king, Awich, and they come to see you. They are a warlike people, but their message is one of peace. They want to be taught about God. They say they have heard how we in our country have received teachers and helpers, and why should they not have the same help? See these men, then, my friend, and decide what you will do."
Here, then, was a magnificent opportunity for the Bunyoro Church to prove the reality of its faith, by sending to this tribe that had appealed to them the help they needed. It was a severe test, as the Gang people were known to be very wild and warlike. Their language was Nilotic and quite unlike Lunyoro, and the customs of the people utterly different from those of Banyoro. Curiously enough, a few weeks before this message came, my Muganda helper, the Rev. Nuwa Nakiwafu, had said to me: "Why should we not send the Gospel to the Gang people? "I had replied by asking him to go first himself and see what sort of an opening there was, and whether they would receive him as a friend. He willingly undertook this long journey, but met with famine and sickness on the road and was obliged to return.
After making arrangements for the carrying on of the work during my absence,, I decided to go myself, and take with me two or three of the Banyoro young men, whom I might leave in the country as teachers should the circumstances be favourable. It was a journey crowded with adventure and of the deepest interest to the pioneer missionary. Surely enough, I found the Gang people a wild race, but I liked them from the first, and decided that missionary work should be definitely started. I visited most of the big chiefs, and everywhere was welcomed. Great open-air services were held, and my porters and boys, who were mostly Christians, sang hymns and prayed with the people, to their great delight. By using as an interpreter a Munyoro boy whom I found there, who had been taken off as a slave by the Gang people when quite young and had thoroughly learned their language, I was enabled to preach to the crowds and tell them for the first time the wonderful words of God.
After spending two months in the country I returned to Bunyoro, and at once got into communication with Bishop Tucker on the subject of establishing a station. The Bishop decided to visit the country himself, with the idea of choosing a site for a permanent mission station. The journey was thoroughly successful and a start was made, for I was left behind in Gang to begin the work, After the lapse of a few months other helpers were sent, and for three years the work went forward slowly. Then it was found that a more populous district existed about ten miles away, and the Government opened a station there. We moved from the old site, therefore, and rebuilt our houses at Gulu, and a big and most successful work was soon in existence. A good church and schools were built, and men and women alike were gathered into the Kingdom. To-day the Gulu Church is strong and healthy, and is characterized by its missionary zeal. Thus the work is spreading northwards towards the great Sudan and eastwards to the Lango tribes, who are similar in language and customs to the Gang people.
In order to keep up the standard, and to supply the needs of the village schools, a missionary college was established on this borderland of Christianity, where volunteers came to read and prepare themselves for missionary work. The need for fully-trained native helpers was urgently felt, so that the thousands of boys and young men eager to learn might be adequately dealt with. Up to Easter of 1918 over 2000 of these had been baptized, and still the work grows.
The people are animists, with but very indefinite religious ideas and with no hope of a future life. Women will dash their heads on the ground in uncontrolled grief when a child or near relative has died, and it is a common sight to see men with tears streaming down their faces being held by their friends, lest they should commit suicide in their great grief at the death of a mother or a wife. When a person is ill the professional drum-beaters are called to entice the evil spirit to come out, and a continuous tom-tomming is kept up on a large and also on a very small drum, beaten together by relays of men day and night, and accompanied by the dancing of friends. The patient is supposed to show signs of the spirit leaving him if he suddenly rushes out of the hut.
The pastoral work in such a district as this, where so many thousands are being taught, presents great difficulty; the growth has been so rapid and the staff is so small that all are overburdened by the work and cannot possibly cope with the unprecedented openings for extension. The work among the women and girls has scarcely been touched. Parents are loth to allow their daughters to be taught by male teachers, so there is a pressing need for women workers in this promising district. A girls' boarding school is much needed. The development of the cotton trade in this part of the protectorate has brought great wealth to the people, and all sorts of European articles are in demand, from bicycles to wrist watches. Even the women will be seen riding bicycles, and they much prefer the man's pattern to the lady's.
The Sudanian tribes are popular with Europeans, the Gang chiefly so. These people are exposed to the advances of Islam, and the women are not at all in favour of monogamy. From their independent, self-satisfied character, some of these tribes are slow to take to new teaching, though they welcome such innovations as guns and uniforms. Considerable numbers are now under instruction, but the bulk of the population is still indifferent. The real problem here, as elsewhere, is how to deepen the work of God in the heart. The sense of sin and responsibility seems to be lacking.
In the Bukedi districts including Teso there is a mass movement of a kind. It is a reaching after freedom from the bondage of the devil, after a better status in the society of tribes, after a higher standard of living by means of wealth. But the deep conviction of moral and spiritual need can only be induced by the Holy Spirit. The need of a Saviour from sin is seldom felt by these primitive folk. Native sermons emphasize the power and judgment of God, but do not often dwell upon His love and holiness. The idea of God is usually something like this: "God is our Father, because He begat us and owns us, and has rights over His children. We must not vex Him lest He retaliate." These people need to understand the view of sin as an offence against the holy purity of One Who not only owns us, but loves us with an everlasting love. How sadly, then, do they need more instruction, in order that the Holy Spirit may convict them of the need for change of life, the new birth in Jesus Christ!
Ankole is the home of the great Hima tribe, and here are to be found thousands and tens of thousands of cattle. The Bahima are physically a fine race, and are an ancient tribe, at one time probably occupying two-thirds of the whole of the Uganda Protectorate. It is a significant fact that the four kings of the Uganda Protectorate are all allied by blood, and are directly descended from the Hima tribe. Although the Banyan-kole [People of Ankole] have always been looked down upon by the Baganda, in many respects they are the better people. Physically they are a much finer race, being generally very tall, with particularly good features, and by no means of the negroid type. All their attention is given to their cattle, to which they devote themselves. During the recent scourge of rinderpest, which swept through the country, when thousands of magnificent beasts were, carried off, suicide among the men was very common. They live for their cattle, and when they saw their beloved beasts dying there seemed nothing left for them but to follow the cows to the grave. They usually live on the milk and the flesh of their herds, and often draw the blood from the living cows to drink. They wear the skins, beautifully dressed, and soft as wash-leather. Their language is Lunyoro, with a different accent and slightly different vocabulary. The Banyankole are not, as a rule, black, but rather of a light brown colour. The cultivators of the soil are called bairu, and are generally recognized as the slaves of the tribe, although they are only a lower branch of the Lunyoro-speaking people. The women are extremely pleasant to look upon, but are much more secluded than their sisters in Uganda. The married women are generally kept veiled and do not often appear in public.
In December, 1899, Bishop Tucker visited the country. He found it, of course, a great contrast to Buganda. Instead of fine houses in which to live, the chiefs and even the king himself were living in small, dark huts inside the cattle kraals. It was then that for the first time the Gospel was preached among the herdsmen of Ankole, and a ready response was the result. Two Baganda teachers were left to follow up the words spoken. In a very short time the Word began to bear fruit, and the katikiro (prime minister) became a tower of strength to the young missionaries. In less than a year a church had been built, and both the king and the katikiro were busy learning to read.
At the end of the year a Muganda clergyman visited Ankole, not knowing that the work had been commenced by his two fellow-countrymen. He had a wonderful experience. After some talk with the katikiro about the evils of witchcraft and charms, a great decision was come to--none other than a great burning of the charms. This was carried out in the courtyard of the king's house. Mbaguta (the katikiro) was the first to bring forth these tokens of his heathen life. Many followed his example, and at last the king himself brought his, and cast them for ever out of his life on the burning pile. This act of a heathen king in the presence of his people was very remarkable, and only those who have lived for a number of years in heathen surroundings in Africa can appreciate what it really meant. It was the breaking for ever with the old life, and expressed a determination to serve from henceforth the one and only true God.
The next year a missionary was sent, the Rev. J. J. Willis, who afterwards became the Bishop of Uganda. Thirteen small out-stations were soon in existence, and the work grew with amazing rapidity. On 7 December, 1902, the king was baptized along with the katikiro, their wives, and eighteen others; and thus the firstfruits were gathered in. An interesting occurrence took place immediately after the baptism. The royal drum was placed in the courtyard of the king's house, and the katikiro explained to the white man that from time immemorial it had been supposed that, if the king of the country were to beat it, disaster would follow; but that the king, now that he had become a Christian, wished to show to his people that he no longer feared, but had given up the superstition. The king then stepped forward and solemnly beat the drum.
From that memorable day onwards the work went ahead. Hundreds of little churches sprang up all over the land. Banyankole teachers were trained and sent out, supported by their own people, and soon thousands were added to the Church. Women's work, which, owing to the customs of the country, was very difficult, was started with great success by a woman missionary, who lived among the people and visited the women in their own secluded quarters. The sterling character of many of these women has often been an inspiration to the lonely worker.
It was in Ankole that the first boy scouts in Uganda made their appearance, and it was delightful to see how seriously and earnestly they took up the role of helpers of others. It was something quite new to find how keen these lads were to help one in a difficulty. A punctured bicycle tyre on the roadside, and up turns a boy scout with willing offers of help. A note to be taken to some distant friend, and a boy scout gladly comes to the rescue and does the journey in half the time a paid messenger would take.
One would like to have space to write of the school work, both among boys and girls, and of the industrial classes, but it cannot be found here. The baptized Banyankole now number over 6000, and the Church is growing with great rapidity; 10,000 children are attending the schools which are scattered all over the country, and nearly 400 teachers are at work.
The Kigezi missionary district is a part of Ankole, situated in the extreme south-west corner of the Uganda Protectorate, and has-a teeming population of about 200,000 in the comparatively small area of 1953 square miles, of which seventy-three square miles are water. The district is divided into three parts, namely, British Ruanda, Rukiga, and Ruzumbura.
British Ruanda, in the south-west corner, touches the Mufumbiro mountain range. Since 1918, when the Banyaluanda1 under their prince Nyindo rebelled, and the teacher sent from the Ankole Church was murdered, the work has been more or less at a standstill. Recently, a request from the local chiefs, made through the district commissioner of Ankole, was passed on to the Church, and two local teachers were sent. Alas! they failed through lack of leadership, and returned to their homes. The Banyaluanda are a fine and clever race, and are quite open to gospel influence, but a leader is needed. There will be found to be no lack of helpers from among the Banyankole evangelists. But Mohammedan influence is very strong, and already there is a movement in that direction.
Rukiga is a mountainous region, with an altitude often of 7000 feet. The Bakiga [People of Rukiga] are sturdy mountaineers. At the government capital, Kabale, the population is very dense. Land has been obtained for the Mission, a teacher is already at work, and the firstfruits have been gathered in. There are four out-stations in the Rukiga district with resident teachers, but the country is very unsettled. The power of the witch-doctors causes constant risings and a good deal of opposition to the work. But pioneer medical work has recently been opened up by two C.H.S. doctors.
Ruzumbura borders on Lake Edward. This part is ruled by a chief called Makobole. Here the work is more advanced, the district being practically part of Ankole, with the same language. Nine teachers are at work, all of them sent by the Ankole Church. The ruling race have not yet definitely made up their minds whether they will read the Book or not, but they show a very friendly spirit. Their whole lives seem centred in their great herds of cattle, and they care for very little besides. But the underlings of the country, the bairu, have already opened their hearts to the Gospel, and twelve of them have been baptized.
Since the conquest of German East Africa, the openings for missionary work south of Ankole have been tremendous. The beautiful country stretches for many miles to the south, with a dense population. Some missionary work had been done there by the German missionaries, and several stations opened; but these have, of course, been closed down and the missionaries withdrawn, so that now the field lies open before us, with the exception of that part which is under Belgian control. But who can go? The staff in Uganda at the moment of writing is small, in spite of the fact that the work to be done there is three times as great as it was ten years ago. Twenty missionaries could be immediately absorbed in the Uganda Mission to-day in order adequately to carry on the existing work. And yet the openings for extension were never so numerous.
THE name Kavirondo seems to be a nickname given by the Swahilis, and is probably a corruption of the words kaffir (a heathen) and rondo, which means to smear the body with mud, the Wakavirondo [The people of Kavirondo] having the curious idea that anointing their naked bodies with mud adds to their beauty.
There are two main branches of the Wakavirondo, the Nilotic and the Bantu. The former originally came down from the Nile, and their language is of the same great family as Arabic. The latter are descendants of the aborigines who seem to have had their home on the southern slopes of Mount Elgon, which Sir Harry Johnston in his "Colonization of Africa "mentions as the source from which the various waves of migration passed down even as far south as below the Zambesi. The Nilotic Wakavirondo, or Luo, as they call themselves, number approximately 750,000; they are the more intelligent of the two branches, and for many years past have gradually been forcing the Bantus, who are about a million in number, farther east.
The Luo extract the four front lower teeth at about the age of puberty, and the Bantu the six lower teeth. The origin of this custom seems lost in antiquity. The Wakavirondo are inclined to look down upon and despise members of other tribes because their lower teeth have not been extracted. In appearance the Wakavirondo are tall and well proportioned, fine limbed, very dark. Their prominent lips and flattened noses are so subdued that they have almost pleasing faces, quite unlike the physiognomy so often depicted as representing the African negro.
The Luo language is more or less uniform in the various districts, one reason for this being the custom of these people to seek for wives in distant parts of their country. The Bantu people, on the other hand, marry within their own clan or immediate neighbourhood, with the result that there is a large number of dialects spoken. Often among the Bantu Wakavirondo a distance of a few miles brings the translator to quite a different dialect.
One characteristic is common to both branches of the Wakavirondo in their heathen state--an entire absence of clothing of any kind. Surrounding tribes have found clothing for their women folk either in the skins of animals or in kilts of grass or, as in the case of the intelligent Baganda, in cloth made from the bark of a tree. But the Wakavirondo were naked and unashamed. They are reputed to have a higher standard of sexual morality than other tribes in spite of their nudity, but this reputation has arisen from the fact that tribal pride has prevented the women from having relations with the Swahili and other traders who pass through their country. The women have more independence than in other tribes, not having been shut up or kept within enclosures, as in Buganda. Sometimes, when an inter-tribal war was taking place in the days before British Government stopped such fighting, the women would pass freely from the one belligerent tribe to the other, bartering their produce, unmolested by either side.
The Wakavirondo used to resent the coming of any stranger into their country. They said that a stranger could come only for the purpose of espionage, and would probably bring with him some disease from outside; so they promptly speared him. A missionary of the C.M.S., who landed from a canoe on their coast in 1901, was in real danger of such a fate. At one place he was unable to go ashore as the people were so threatening, coming down with their spears to prevent his canoe approaching the beach.
Like most Central African tribes, the Wakavirondo are animists, worshipping the spirits of their ancestors, fearing devils which people the air and are ever ready to do them harm. Their worship is not at all organized. They have their medicine man to whom they resort in times of trouble; he sacrifices a chicken or a goat and sprinkles its blood about the kraal of his patient, and gives charms or amulets for wear. The people have a vague idea of a supreme Spirit whom they call "Nyasaye," but few know anything about him. Superstition fills their lives, some of their beliefs being foolish and petty, others having a wholesome effect on their conduct.
Polygamy is still practised by the Wakavirondo, and is, as elsewhere in Africa, the great hindrance to their becoming Christians. Women and girls are bought from their fathers for so many head of cattle, and often sold to the highest bidder regardless of his age and the wishes of the girl herself. Unfortunately, the women do not look upon this dowry as a price paid to buy them, but as a guarantee of good treatment on the part of their future husbands, and as an expression of the love they have for them.
An ancient people, naked savages, adorning themselves with beads and brass wire and (on festive occasions) with white clay, full of the pride of ignorance, without God and without hope, living in dread of the powers of darkness which surround them--such were the Wakavirondo without exception when the Gospel first attracted them.
Although one of the earliest out-stations of the Uganda Mission had been established in the adjoining region of Busoga, missionary work was not seriously begun among the Wakavirondo until about 1907, when the Rev. J. J. Willis (now Bishop of Uganda) started a station among the Luo at a place called Maseno, some eighteen miles north of the small town of Kisumu on the lake shore, the terminus of the Uganda railway from Mombasa.
The method adopted by Mr. Willis proved most successful. The country was toured by him, and the objects of the mission explained. Each chief and headman was persuaded to send one or two of his boys to a boarding school and asked to contribute towards their support. This involved not only the loss of a boy's services as a herdsman, but also the payment of a small sum for clothing which was deemed an altogether unnecessary luxury.
The school began in a small way, and the boys remained for three months. At first wild and undisciplined, they were gradually brought under control. The subjects taught included reading, writing, and religious knowledge. Then Mr. H. O. Savile started industrial work, a department which has since grown to a most encouraging extent. At the end of the three months the boys were sent home to tell their heathen friends what they had learned, and the foreign missionaries toured the country again, visiting the boys in their own kraals and obtaining recruits for the school. A month afterwards the school reassembled. Some of the boys did not return, but others took their place, until in two years the numbers averaged 120 per term.
The advantages of this system were that the boys were not denationalized, and that they passed on to their heathen friends the Gospel truths which they had learned. In this way the elementary truths of the Christian religion were carried into all parts of the country. At first the boys from one district were afraid of those from another, and would not eat with them, for fear lest their food might have been bewitched. Gradually, however, this distrust was broken down, and a real esprit de corps formed. The boys were given a uniform with a school badge, and one of their greatest punishments for a breach of discipline was to be forbidden to wear the school colours and badge.
In 1909 the first baptisms took place, and from that time a movement began which deserves the name of a mass movement toward Christianity on the part of the Luo people. Congregations, gathered by boys from the Maseno school, and in a few cases by boys who had been taught by the C M.S. missionaries at Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, sprang up all over the country.
During the last few years missionaries have been overwhelmed with applications from these congregations for spiritual help, and with candidates for the catechumenate or for baptism. In 1920 there were 13,524 adherents and 824 communicants in connexion with the three stations and 149 out-stations. At Kisumu one congregation now numbers 1200 baptized people, and over 1000 catechumens.
When the missionaries from German East Africa, who had been interned and badly treated by the Germans, were released by the Allies' occupation of Tabora in 1916, seventy Africans were with them, teachers and others, members of various tribes attached to the C.M.S. and the Universities' Mission who had been imprisoned because of their suspected pro-British sympathies. These were all repatriated by way of the Victoria Nyanza and Kisumu. On their arrival at the latter place the Wakavirondo Christians, on their own initiative, gave a great welcome to these foreigners, because they were Christians like themselves. The people who, a few years previously, would have speared a stranger who tried to enter their country, gave a feast of welcome because they had learned the secret of Christian brotherhood.
The keen evangelistic zeal shown by these young converts has been most encouraging. A young man was admitted to the catechumenate at Kisumu and shortly afterwards left the town, finding work as a pointsman at Londiani, seventy miles down the Uganda railway. There he gathered together the Wakavirondo employees of the railway and labourers on the neighbouring estates held by Europeans, and taught them. They built themselves a small church of mud and wattle, with thatched roof. Sunday by Sunday about 120 of them met for worship and instruction, and in the evenings during the week, after their work was done, they taught one another and read their gospels and sang hymns. When the missionary was able to visit them the young leader presented twenty of them for admission to the catechumenate. They had adopted a uniform to wear, based on that in use at Maseno school, and across their chests they had sewn a strip of red Turkey twill bearing the letters, "C.M.S., L.," the letter L standing for Londiani, the place where they met. This kind of congregation is to be found all over the Nyanza Province, in the native reserve, in the highlands, on the Europeans' farms, and at almost every railway station down the Uganda railway as far as Nairobi.
Too much cannot be made of the good work done at the technical school at Maseno, where young Wakavirondo men and boys have been trained as bricklayers, masons, carpenters, and agriculturalists. These have been eagerly sought after by settlers and others. Only those who have seen the homes in which these boys were born and spent their early years can appreciate the change which has taken place.
In 1912 a station was opened among the Bantu Wakavirondo by the late Archdeacon Chadwick; and the chief of the district, Marama, one of nature's gentlemen, has been baptized, giving up nine of his ten wives and incurring, for Christ's sake, a great deal of reproach from the older heathen headmen.
The highly important work of teaching the women has not been neglected. The missionaries' wives, as well as four or five single women missionaries, have done all they were able to do; but this side of the evangelization of the Wakavirondo has not received all the help it needs. Having no national dress, the native women converts are restrained with difficulty from making themselves hideous by wearing ill-fitting European garb; but fortunately most of the Christian girls and women have adopted the Baganda women's dress--a white shawl wrapped round their bodies, with a coloured sash--which is suitable to their hot climate and most becoming.
Being more industrious than other tribes in East Africa, the Wakavirondo were recruited in large numbers during the war for service as carriers in German East Africa, and thousands of them lost their lives from sickness and from the bullets of the enemy. They were found to make excellent soldiers, and acquitted themselves well after a short term of training. Their loyalty to the British cause deserves that we should give them what they are urgently asking for, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
WE have followed the growth of the Uganda Church step by step up to the present time. We have seen the wonderful developments which have taken place in the short space of forty years. First, the awakening of the Uganda people to a realization of their utter need, and the free acceptance of the gospel message as the only way of salvation. Then, the establishment of a native Church, self-governing, self-supporting, and finally self-extending through the coming of the missionary spirit and the efforts of the young Church to preach the Gospel to the tribes still in ignorance. Noble lives have been given freely to the Master's service in foreign lands, and, as has been shown, the work has spread to the regions beyond.
What is to follow now? There are tremendous possibilities before the Uganda Church. Has that Church the strength to follow the gleam? We must not hide from our readers the grave dangers that lie before us. In preparing a record of this sort one cannot ignore the dark side of the picture; and it is true that in the Uganda Church there is to-day a very dark side which fills all workers out here with serious apprehension for the future. Never have the prayers of God's people been more urgently needed--not because the work is not advancing, for the numbers pressing into the Kingdom and the crowds thronging the schools are greater than at any previous time--but beneath the surface there are symptoms which must cause grave anxiety as to the future.
The discussion on church discipline which took place in the Synod of 1913 brought the question of national morals prominently to the front. As a result reforms were bound either to come visibly nearer, or to become more remote and improbable. Since that discussion, now eight years ago, there seems to the casual observer but little improvement in the state of the Church. The two great evils against which there is constant warfare, drunkenness and immorality, are as flagrant as ever; indeed, the latter is more open to the world than ever it was. Plurality of wives and concubinage are everywhere, and the whole Church is riddled with this sin, while drunkenness follows in its train. In some places legal action has been taken against certain chiefs and others, but with deplorable results. Even where the case has been proved to satisfy the court, and the man has been punished, the general consequence of such action has been to do more harm than good, for it has meant that the man at once cuts himself off from all religious influence. In the case of the man who has won at a trial although he was flagrantly guilty, through the failure of the wife to produce sufficient evidence, the result has been disastrous, for to the native mind it has legalized sin. The law of the land on the subject is still very imperfect. When it is remembered that here we have Mohammedans, Christians, and heathen, all with different views on the marriage question--views recognized by the courts--it will be understood how hard it is to legislate. The Christian may become a heathen again, or he may profess to turn Mohammedan just to evade the law.
Another great danger is a cleavage which has come within the Church and threatens its very life as a corporate body. Some years ago, one of the leading Christian chiefs took a firm stand against the use of medicine, and denounced the hospital work as that of the devil, appealing to the teaching of St. James. He was not a degenerate, but a good Christian man, and this made the matter much more difficult. He soon got a big following, and broke off entirely from the Church. In a little while his followers carried matters much farther than he himself intended, and plurality of wives was allowed and, indeed, encouraged in this new sect. A form of baptism was used, and teachers were sent out all over the country to baptize into the new religion. The baptism was performed by these teachers in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and a mere statement by the candidate to the effect that he believed in God was reckoned sufficient for baptism. Thousands of men and women all over the country were thus initiated into the new "Church," and the movement spread with great rapidity.
I visited a thickly populated district in February, 1920, and found that many hundreds of people had joined the sect by baptism within a few months. So great had been the rush that the people had lined up on the main road two or three hundred strong, and the teacher had walked down the long line with a basin of water and baptized all in the name of the Holy Trinity. Of course, the whole proceeding, in reality, was a silly farce, but to those baptized it was not so. A large church in that district, which I had visited six years before, at that time was crowded with readers; now it is practically empty. I visited it on the Sunday, and the biggest congregation we could gather was fourteen people. Nearly everybody in the district with whom I spoke said that they had been baptized by Malaki, the leading spirit of the movement, once a prominent Christian worker and teacher of our Church. To the African, who is a born formalist, this sort of thing is most alluring, but it is a very real menace to the Church of Christ.
In a few cases this so-called baptism has been a blessing in disguise, since individuals, finding that they are not recognized as Christians by the people generally, have come back to the Church for the true baptism. The majority, however, go on in the heathen ways, well satisfied that the Malaki baptism has made it all right for them.
Possibly one of the reasons for the popularity of this new movement is that we have advanced too far along the stereotyped lines of the Church of England, with all its historic customs, beautiful in themselves and meaning much to us, but some of them quite foreign to the African. Be that as it may, it is true that the Malaki movement, which attracts the African because he is a born formalist, is a very real menace to the Church and is a dark cloud in the sky, though it has much to teach us.
Still another dark cloud is the return to old heathen superstitions and beliefs. The African is undoubtedly a religious man; at the same time, his ideas of religion are crude, consisting for the most part of a vague animism or belief in spirits, which he holds as received from many generations of forefathers. The old superstitions and customs connected with this belief have struck deep roots and taken hold upon every department of his life and thought, so much so that they survive to a deplorable extent even among professing Christians. And, alas, this survival seems to be gaining ground. Among raw heathen tribes it is only to be expected that drunkenness, polygamy, immorality, witchcraft, and fear of spirits should flourish and rule rampant and unabashed. To question the power of the spirits of the dead appears to the animist mere ignorance and folly: to preach temperance or morality is to suggest the exercise of a self-control which is entirely foreign to his whole nature. This is but natural. We appreciate the strength of the hold of these customs and beliefs upon the African only when we consider how lately it was that the whole country was in utter darkness. But that such superstitions should still prevail among the Christians, and increasingly so, is cause for real apprehension.
The Baganda Christians are passing through a very severe time of testing. The earliest Europeans to come to the country were Christian missionaries, and the idea naturally established itself in the native mind that it was the direct aim and object of all white men to propagate the religion which they profess. The conception of a European not interested or concerned in the faith of his fathers was foreign to them. Even now it is difficult for them to grasp such a position. Thirty years ago individualism was practically unknown. No peasant thought for himself, least of all on religious matters; his simple duty was to follow his chief, to think as he thought and to believe as he believed. Now things have changed, for each man must think for himself; and the Church has reached the time when every member has to adjust himself to a new world, with new possibilities, new temptations, and new demands. The result is often a sad turning back into the old ways of sin. Drunkenness and immorality and a return to superstition have played fearful havoc with a large number of the Christians, and not least among some of the leading chiefs. Example has been followed with a fidelity born of the old feudal system, until Christian and heathen often seem indistinguishable.
As I have said, this is only what might be expected. The Christian who has never been stirred to the depths of his being by the blessed conviction of his need of a Saviour will soon turn aside, and especially will this be so among a people so recently won from heathenism. When they see (as, alas! they do) the white man, whose God they have tried to worship, himself giving way to the lusts of the flesh, they soon satisfy themselves that it is the proper course to follow and, while retaining the name Christian, they go back to the old beliefs and bondage and ignorance of their heathen days. "The last state of that man is worse than the first."
Such are the clouds in the sky as we see them to-day in Uganda. What must be our attitude towards them?
First, there can be no compromise. We must preach a full Gospel. If Jesus Christ is not the Saviour of the world, then the world has no Saviour. We know the weakness of the human heart, we realize the dark past and the oft-times heathen environment of the young Christian struggling along the path, but we must never relax one iota from the old-fashioned truth that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. But, second, we must be quite sure that the presentation of the Truth is made in such a way as to appeal to the Africans to whom we go. Truth may be choked by dogma, and so hidden; or purely European methods of work may distort its beauty. The supreme aim of the missionary should always be to find points of contact. There is a mighty difference between the man sent out by the C.M.S. and the man to whom he is sent--a very obvious statement, but one worth re-stating. What may be a most blessed means of spiritual help to the white man may on the other hand have a deadening influence on the man of Africa. The African is a man to whom a beautiful thought is as strange as a snowflake, and a brilliant thought as rare as an icicle hanging from the eaves of his hut. Then, lastly, we must take missions more seriously. How often, when home on furlough, I heard one and another say: "I am very interested in missions." And it would be plainly seen that it was mere interest. A pretty story, a wild adventure, or the description of a fascinating country or an interesting people--these seemed to mark the extent of their interest.
Let me solemnly affirm that the missionary does not come home from his work merely to seek interest; what he really wants is wholehearted allegiance to the cause of Christ, and acceptance of a partnership with Him in this great business of evangelization. Hitherto we have played at missions. It is now quite time we "got down" to them, recognizing the fact that the preaching of the Gospel to all creatures is the primary duty of the Church, not a little side-show, as it has so often been to us. Don't tell the missionary you are interested in his work, but do tell him that you are going to "join up," and do your "bit," whatever it may be. Never relax your earnestness in prayer for the man "at the front," that he also may take his work seriously.
Believe me when I say that the missionary, surrounded as he is, day by day, by the deadening influences of heathenism, is but a frail creature, and it is quite easy for him to go about his job in a half-hearted, free-and-easy way, forgetful of the fact that his must not be a languid interest in his people, but a very active fight against the tremendous odds that are against him, as befits a soldier of Christ in the greatest war that ever was waged.