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An African Anglican Tribute: HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022

The special Commemorative Service in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022, took place on Thursday 15 September 2022 at 14:30 at St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, Kampala, Uganda. I participated with thanksgiving and praise to God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for HM Queen Elizabeth II:  Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Visitor to (Head) Westminster Abbey Cathedral, London, the “royal peculiar”; and Head of the Commonwealth. 

My tribute is juxtaposed against much that has already been written, and will continue to be written and said, about the evil works and misdeeds of the British Empire especially in Africa and Uganda inclusive, which was headed by HM Queen Elizabeth II—UK’s longest reigning Monarch. However, I have a nuanced and fairly objective view of the 68 years (1894-1962) history of the British empire and colonialism in conjunction with the Anglican Christian Mission in the “British Uganda Protectorate” in particular.  

This owes much to my advanced study and research in Christian theology, (Euro-American) and African philosophies, in particular to my study and research of inculturated African Anglican theology and praxis. I was fortunate to have started with an excellent intellectual High School foundation in Lango College, Lira (1971-6), Northern Uganda. After Lango College, I received the best training as a High School Math and Physics Teacher at NTC-Kyambogo, 1977-9, now Kyambogo University. 

Ten years after I had graduated from NTC-Kyambogo 1979, I went to the USA and pursued undergraduate studies in Interdisciplinary Studies (Math, Theology and Political Science) at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA (1989-1991). I immediately followed this with graduate studies at Duke University Divinity and Graduate Schools, Durham, NC (1991-1995, 2004-2006); and participated in the Anglican Communion-wide summer Course in Anglican Identity at the Canterbury Cathedral in the summer of 1993. 

Furthermore, I had one-academic year pre-PhD dissertation research as Duke recognized graduate student at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford, from Michaelmas 1995 to Trinity 1996. My research focused on “19th Century English Theology and its impact on Anglican Missionaries to Africa”. I am forever grateful to the St Augustine’s Foundation, Canterbury, for its generous fellowship grant that made my 1995/1996 Oxford stay and research possible.  

Thus my tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II (RIP) is well-deserved because of Her Majesty’s demonstrated Anglican Christian faith. It is further well-deserved because of the positive developments and initiatives by the Church of England (Anglican) Christian Mission in Uganda (1877-1966), and by the “British Uganda Protectorate” Government (1894-1962). 

To date, many of these developments are still standing, such as: 

HOSPITALS

  • Mengo Hospital in Kampala, Buganda/CENTRAL UGANDA, founded by the Medical Missionary Dr Albert Ruskin Cook in 1897.

  • Old Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Buganda/CENTRAL UGANDA, founded by Dr Albert Ruskin Cook in 1913, and New Mulago Hospital constructed by the “British Uganda Protectorate” Government; opened in 1962 as a ‘gift’ to Independent Uganda. New Mulago Hospital was reputed as the best in Africa in the immediate post-Independent Uganda period. 

  • Ngora Freda Carr Hospital, Teso /EASTERN UGANDA, founded in 1922 as a small Anglican Church /CMS Medical Mission station.  

SECONDARY SCHOOLS (formerly ‘prestigious’ national schools) 

  • Mengo SS, King’s College Budo, Gayaza High School—all in Buganda/CENTRAL UGANDA; 

  • Busoga College Mwiri, and Nabumali High School, Mbale in EASTERN UGANDA; 

  • Gulu High School, Dr Obote College Boroboro, Kitgum High School and Mvara SS Arua—all in NORTHERN UGANDA; 

  • Nyakasura School and Kyebambe Girls SS in Tooro, Duhaga SS in Bunyoro, Kigezi High School in Kigezi and Mbarara High School in Ankole–all in WESTERN UGANDA, etc. 

HIGHER EDUCATION

  • 1922: founding of Makerere College as a “Men Only” College with H.O Saville, Anglican Church/CMS Missionary as Founder Principal (1922-1923).

  • 1945: first five (5) Women Students admitted to Makerere College for ‘Adult Studies’ thanks to Mrs. Mary Stuart, wife of Bishop Edgar Cyril Stuart, 3rd Anglican Missionary Bishop of Uganda. Mary Stuart was also the brain and driver behind establishment of the Young Women Christians Association (YWCA) in Uganda. Mary Stuart Hall (“Box”), Makerere’s first Women’s Hall of Residence is named in recognition of Mary Stuart’s promotion of Female Higher Education in Uganda.

  • 1949: Makerere University College of East Africa in Special Relationship with the University of London. His Majesty (King George VI) Government awarded £ million in “Colonial (later Commonwealth) Development and Welfare (CD&W) funds for first phase of building program” at Makerere University College. (ref. Carol Sicherman, Becoming an African University: Makerere 1922-2000, Kampala: Fountain Publishers 2005, page 333).

INDUSTRIALIZATION AND TRANSFORMATION

1954: HM Queen Elizabeth II commissioned Owen Falls Dam in Jinja. Then Governor of Uganda Sir Andrew Cohen’s Foreword in the Brochure for the commissioning read as follows: “I am proud that this historic event has taken place during my tenure of the office as Governor…. The power which the dam will provide and the industries it will make possible will bring solid benefit to everybody in the shape of increased wealth, above all, it will bring new opportunities to Africans…

“In her speech, the Queen said: ‘I am glad and proud to be here today with my husband to open the Owen Falls Hydro-Electric Scheme…. This power will serve industries which are already in being and others which will be established in the future. Without power there can be no economic development and without power no country can go forward in the modern world…” 

(Brian Musaasizi, “Ripon Falls Hotel: Jinja Based Dilapidated Place Where Queen Elizabeth II Slept in 1954 on Her Visit to Commission the Owen Falls Dam in 1954”, Red Pepper (Kampala), September 09, 2022).

AWARDS, HONOURS AND RECOGNITION

1954: 

During her visit to Uganda, HM Queen Elizabeth II also awarded the legendary Bishop Aberi K. Balya, 1877-1979, (father of Uganda Ambassador to South Sudan, Brig Gen Ronnie Balya), the “Most Excellent Officer of the British Empire (OBE)”. Bishop Balya had been appointed by the See of Canterbury, consecrated and enthroned in Namirembe Cathedral in 1947, and thereby became the first African-Anglican Bishop in East, Central and Southern Africa. 

As Assistant Bishop of Uganda overseeing then Western Province, Bishop Balya established the Ankole-Kigezi Diocese in 1957. This was three (3) years after his OBE award by HM Queen Elizabeth II. He evidently influenced election of Bishop Kosia Shalita, Rwanda national, to become the first African Bishop of Ankole-Kigezi Diocese. He also navigated the “Bairu-Hima” ethnic and political tensions, which were biased against election of Rev Erica Sabiiti, a Muhima; even though Rev Sabiiti was easily the most qualified candidate. He was both as a ‘mulokole’ (saved one) and a graduate of Makerere College. 

(ref. Rt. Rev. Yoramu K. Bamunoba, The Development of the Anglican Church in West Ankole 1900-1990, Kampala: Fountain Publishers 2015, pages 75-76). 

Bishop Balya further influenced relocation of Rev Erica Sabiiti to Tooro in 1960, whereupon he was consecrated and enthroned the first African Bishop of Ruwenzori Diocese. Five years later in November 1965, the House of Bishops elected Bishop Sabiiti to succeed The Most Rev Leslie Brown, Anglican Missionary Archbishop and Bishop of Namirembe Diocese, 1961-1966. 

It is plausible that Bishop Balya advised Archbishop Leslie Brown behind the scenes concerning Bishop Erica Sabiiti’s suitability for the first African Anglican Archbishop of Uganda. 

Hence, on 25th January 1966, Bishop Erica Sabiiti was installed the first African Anglican Archbishop of n the Church of Uganda, Ruanda and Urundi. The same year 1966 in September, recently installed Archbishop Sabiiti appointed Rev Janani Luwum as his Provincial Secretary. Prior to his appointment, Rev Janani Luwum was Tutor, then Deputy and Principal of Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi, Mbale Diocese–his Theological College alma mater.

In 1972, Archbishop Sabiiti was installed Bishop of Kampala Diocese. This was the same year the Diocese of Boga in the former Zaire–African Anglican “birthplace” in DRC–became autonomous from Ruwenzori Diocese of the Church of Uganda. Henceforth, Erica Sabiiti served as the Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire but for only two (2) years, 1972-1974. He was succeeded in 1974 by his protégé, Archbishop Janani Luwum the Martyr. 

Having been mentored effectively by Bishop Balya, Archbishop Sabiiti in turn mentored Janani Luwum right from his appointment as Provincial Secretary in 1966, to his election and enthronement in 1969 as the first Acholi/Central Luo Bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese. Archbishop Sabiiti further influenced the House of Bishops’ election of Bishop Janani Luwum to succeed him. This occurred in 1974 when Bishop Janani Luwum was installed the 2nd African Anglican Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire; and Bishop of Kampala Diocese. 

 

July 1998: 

HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip graced the recognition of ten (10) 20th Century Martyrs whose statues were hoisted on the West Wall of Westminster Abbey Cathedral, London. One of them was and is our own Archbishop-martyr Janani Luwum, 20th Century African Anglican Martyr of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo (DRC), from Acholi, NORTHERN UGANDA. 

Rt. Rev Dr John Sentamu, then Bishop of Stepney, London; wrote for Archbishop-martyr Janani Luwum’s July 1998 Westminster Abbey commemoration as follows: 

“Janani Luwum gave to the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire a new spirit and vitality. His wise leadership had encouraged Christians not to disregard, but to confront issues of church and state in Uganda…. He sought to shape his Province into a distinctive Christian body that cherished its past and its diversity, but one that reached out to what was universal in the gospel. For me, his martyrdom was a defining moment. The day he died I resolved to be ordained.” 

(ref. Rt. Rev Dr John Sentamu, “Tribalism, religion and despotism in Uganda: Archbishop Janani Luwum” in Andrew Chandler (ed), The Terrible Alternative: Christian Martyrdom in the Twentieth Century, Cassel: New York 1998):

Moreover, the July 1998 Westminster Abbey recognition was especially poignant for Janani Luwum’s Acholi/Central Luo ethnic community. They were ravaged by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) civil war in Northern Uganda right from 1986 through 1998 to 2006. They felt abandoned by fellow Ugandans, the Church in and outside Uganda, and the international community in general. 

But when HM Queen Elizabeth II, in person, graced the Westminster Abbey recognition of their son Archbishop-Martyr Janani Luwum, the hopes of the suffering Acholi/Central Luo were renewed. Though they had been abandoned, they no longer felt “God-forsaken”:     

“Westminster Abbey, the ‘royal peculiar’ that hoisted and unveiled Luwum’s statue [July 1998] has thereby proclaimed the victory of Christ over the powers and principalities that denigrate, oppress and dehumanize. It is victory made sweeter considering that Luwum is a product of Anglican mission gospel nurtured by Acholi (Luo) vernacular streams of the Yusto Otunnu CER Revival in Northern Uganda. 

Luwum’s ethnic community, the Acholi, is threatened by extinction in the Northern Ugandan catastrophe that has gone non-stop for 20 years since 1986… Therefore, Luwum the martyr has become a sign, symbol and hope for his people, the Acholi and all the oppressed…Luwum is a sign that his people’s suffering and tears will one day come to an end; he is a symbol of their tenacity that faith in Christ wins even though it appears to lose momentarily; he is their hope that victory shall come for they shall overcome someday….” 

(ref. George Piwang-Jalobo, “Who is Janani Luwum? A Brief Theological Biography of Archbishop Janani Luwum, 1922-1977”, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA, February 2006)

HM Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated her simple Anglican Christian faith throughout her reign, but especially when she personally graced the July 1998 Westminster Abbey recognition of Archbishop-martyr Janani Luwum, and the other nine (9) 20th Century Martyrs. It was a powerful acknowledgment, for example, that Archbishop Janani Luwum, 20th Century African Anglican Martyr; was and is African Anglicanism’s gift to the world-wide Anglican Communion. 

At the July 1998 Westminster recognition of the ten (10) 20th Century Martyrs, therefore, HM Queen Elizabeth II showed Anglican Christian faith at it its best. Her Majesty showed that her Anglican Christian faith was and is still relevant for Black and White, Prince and Peasant, Rich and Poor, Male and Female, Jew and Gentile, Hutu and Tutsi, Nilotic (Luo), Sudanic (Lugbara) and Bantu (Baganda)—all alike.  

“In Janani Luwum the Martyr who grew up herding goats in the African savannah grasslands of Northern Uganda, African Anglicanism otherwise stereotyped as poor, weak and ‘superstitious’; interfaces with Euro-American Anglicanism handicapped by a colonial baggage of power, privilege and elitism. Luwum the Martyr is the conjunction in whom power has stooped to touch the poor and is thereby humanized to serve the weak. Unveiling and hoisting up his statue at Westminster Abbey [July 1998] enables visitors to the Abbey to take a fresh look at the life and witness of Luwum, African Anglicanism’s gift to the world. 

As the martyr son of Acholi from Northern Uganda—the despised, underdeveloped and war ravaged backwaters of a former colony—whose memory is now exalted in the ‘coronation cathedral’ of the empire on which once the sun never set; Janani Luwum symbolizes the demystification of Anglicanism’s power and privilege to show that Anglicanism is at its best when, in Christ, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Black and White, Hutu and Tutsi, Prince and Peasant and Rich and Poor are accepted and all together exalted.” 

(ref. George Piwang-Jalobo, “Who is Janani Luwum? A Brief Theological Biography of Archbishop Janani Luwum, 1922-1977”, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA, February 2006)

2005: 

Uganda-born Bishop John Sentamu was installed the 1st Black Archbishop of York after his nomination had been approved by HM Queen Elizabeth II. He served faithfully from 2005 to 2020 and is now Lord John Sentamu in the British House of Lords. 

As I have observed above, Bishop Dr John Sentamu’s decision to be ordained into the Anglican Church ministry was the fruit or “seed” of the “blood” of the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum. Hence his historic achievement as the 1st Black Archbishop of York, was indeed the continuing success of Bishop Balya’s impact on Archbishop Erica Sabiiti, who in turn mentored Archbishop Janani Luwum; whose martyrdom so impacted Bishop John Sentamu. 

This cross generational impact of Bishop Balya’s leadership and mentoring is a key justification for this Ugandan African Anglican well-deserved tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth II. It is a well-deserved tribute for Her Majesty’s 1954 visit in Uganda when she awarded the “Most Excellent Officer of the British Empire (OBE)” to Bishop Aberi K. Balya, OBE (1877-1979). Bishop Balya merited the OBE award as he later turned into the African Anglican Super Leader and Mentor, whose cross-generational mentorship impacted up to the 1st Black Archbishop Emeritus of York, now Lord John Sentamu!    

Therefore, as a Ugandan African Anglican lay theologian, I will continue to thank God in commemoration of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022: Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Visitor to (Head of) Westminster Abbey Cathedral, London, and Head of the Commonwealth through my proposed: –

1. Uganda Police Force (UPF) led national SP Ahmad Oduka (1930-1971) commemoration, October 2022, to celebrate Uganda’s 60th anniversary DIAMOND JUBILEE of Independence, 1962-2022, and celebrate in Uganda the PLATINUM JUBILEE, 1952-2022, of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022. 

But who was SP Ahmad Oduka (1930-1971)? He was a tall handsome and elegant JoNAM/Central Luo who hailed from Mujugula-Amor Village, Pakwach Town Council. He was brutally murdered by Idi Amin’s military Government in April 1971. SP Ahmad Oduka undertook a total 5 years (1958 and 1961-4) of advanced music scholarship and training in the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM) at Kneller Hall (1857-2021) in the UK. 

He rose through the ranks in the Police Force to become the first African Director of Music in the Uganda Police Band, 1964-1971. He was recognized by Academia (Makerere University College) in 1965 as one of Uganda’s pioneer applied ethnomusicologists. Thus proposed UPF-led national SP Ahmad Oduka commemoration is toward launch and development of the SP Ahmad Oduka Academy of Music, Film and Performing Arts/Creative Industries in Pakwach District—as regional Academy and Center of Excellence in East and Central Africa.

2. 1st Annual Prof Capt Dr VL Ongom Memorial Lecture in Makerere University, October/November 2022, to celebrate MAK @100, 1922-2022, and celebrate in Uganda the PLATINUM JUBILEE, 1952-2022, of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022 with: 

  • H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Visitor to Makerere University as the CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR; 

  • Dr Goylette Chami, Associate Professor, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, as KEYNOTE LECTURE PRESENTER and; 

  • H.E Kate Airey, OBE, UK High Commissioner in Uganda as SPECIAL GUEST OF HONOUR.

But who was Prof Capt Dr VL Ongom (1933-1980)? He was a JoNAM/Central Luo and hailed from Panyagoro-Amor Village, Pakwach Town Council. He was Uganda’s Founding Father of Academia~Miliary Partnership. He transitioned in 1969 from Capt Dr VL Ongom, Chief Medical Officer, Uganda Army Medical Corps; to Lecturer in Preventive Medicine, Makerere Medical School. 

He thereafter rose through the academic ranks to appointment as full Professor in 1975, when he also became the first African Director of the Institute of Public Health of Makerere University, 1975-1980. Prof Capt Dr VL Ongom was also Sub-Saharan Africa’s pioneer Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) researcher.

3.  Forty-third (43rd) anniversary commemoration of the passing-on and state-burial of Bishop Aberi K. Balya, OBE (1877-1979) – 30th November 2022. This is through high-profile launch of the proposed Bishop Aberi K. Balya Distinguished Endowed Chair and Center of Excellence in Servant Leadership and Policy Sciences in Mountains of the Moon University (MMU), Fort Portal Tourism City–targeting East, Central and Southern Africa with: 

  • H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Visitor to MMU, as CHIEF HOST;

  • HM King Charles III or Representative as CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR;

  • Lord John Sentamu representing the Archbishop of Canterbury as KEYNOTE LECTURE PRESENTER of the Inaugural Bishop Aberi K. Balya Memorial Lecture in MMU, Fort Portal Tourism City.

4.  Forty-sixth (46th) anniversary Africa’s Great Lakes Region-wide commemoration of St Janani Luwum–Common Martyr of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo (Boga-Zaire) –at St Paul’s Church of Uganda Mucwini, Kitgum Diocese (Anglican), NORTHERN UGANDA on 16th February 2023 with: 

  • H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, as CHIEF HOST PILGRIM; 

  • HM King Charles III or Representative as the CHIEF GUEST PILGRIM; 

  • H.E Paul Kagame President of Rwanda; 

  • H.E Evariste Ndiyashimiye President of Burundi and; 

  • H.E Felix A. Tshisekedi President of DRC as SPECIAL GUEST PILGRIMS.

5. Launch of three (3) state-of-the-art 21st Century Multi-Campus and Collegiate African Anglican Innovation Universities during Archbishop-martyr Janani Luwum 16th February 2023 forty sixth (46th) anniversary commemoration. The proposed three (3) Innovation Universities are worthy and timely monuments in perpetual recognition and celebration of the outstanding African Anglican leadership legacies of Bishop Aberi K. Balya (1877-1979) and Archbishop Janani Luwum (1922-1977) as follows: –

  1. Archbishop Janani Luwum Innovation University to be headquartered in Gulu City, NORTHERN UGANDA DIOCESE, toward transforming GREATER NORTHERN UGANDA with strategic Multi-College Campuses in Kitgum, Lango, Madi/West Nile, Nebbi, North Karamoja and West Lango Dioceses.

  2. Upper Nile Anglican Innovation University to be headquartered in Buwalasi, NORTH MBALE DIOCESE, toward transforming GREATER EASTERN UGANDA with strategic Multi-College Campuses in Bukedi, Karamoja, Kumi, Mbale, Soroti and Sebei Dioceses.

  3. Bishop Aberi K. Balya Innovation University to be headquartered in Fort Portal Tourism City, RUWENZORI DIOCESE, toward transforming GREATER RUWENZORI-BUNYORO REGION with strategic Multi-College Campuses in Bunyoro-Kitara, East Ruwenzori, Masindi-Kitara and South Ruwenzori Dioceses.

CONCLUSION

In continued thanksgiving and commemoration of HM Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022, I propose the first five (5) years, 2023-2028, capital development of the three (3) state-of-the-art 21st Century African Anglican Innovation Universities; be financed through strategic partnership between the Church of Uganda, Government of Uganda and HM King Charles III’s Government (HMG). 

This strategic partnership should also include HMG’s support for staff development and technical capacity building of the three (3) state-of-the-art African Anglican Innovation Universities by UK’s world-class Universities: University of Oxford; University of Cambridge; Imperial College London; University of Edinburgh; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; University of London/London School of Economics (LSE) etc.

MAY HM QUEEN ELIZABETH II, 1926-2022, REST IN ETERNAL PEACE 

AMEN.

Img SRC: Alamy.com

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Written by George Piwang-Jalobo

George Piwang-Jalobo: lay African Anglican theologian, Pakwach Town Parish, JoNAM Archdeaconry, Nebbi Diocese, Church of the Province of Uganda (Anglican)

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