The shock arising from the death of the former Archbishop of Kampala Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga still reverberates in the minds and hearts of many Ugandans.
But it is the sudden, effortless way in which he left earthly life that hurt many the most.
A fighter for the oppressed, a voice for the voiceless, a funder of poor people’s projects, a promoter of peace; the late Archbishop’s death hurt millions because of what the had done for humanity but also what he stood for.
Archbishop Lwanga’s unrelentingly fight for a peaceful and just society, which are universal and fundamental values, attracted affection that cut across religious affiliations, economic backgrounds as well as ethnic identities in Uganda and beyond.
As the leader of the Islamic faith in Uganda Mufti Sheikh Ramathan Mubajje, who doubles as the chairperson of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, affirmed in his speech during Tuesday April 6, National Mourning ceremony at Kololo, Dr. Lwanga was relied on by many to speak out whenever rights were trampled upon.
This testimony was echoed by very many others including the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, Buganda Kingdom Premier Charles Peter Mayiga.
“I hail him for his transformational leadership. Apart from his pastoral work, the people of Kamuli will be forever grateful for giving us the 2nd bank in North Busoga,the Centenary Bank.
Eternal rest grant unto him Oh Lord,” said Kadaga.
Foul play a cousin of sudden death
Most Ugandans initially reacted with a great deal of suspicion and others made wild allegations suggesting foul play.
But a post-mortem examination of the body of the late Archbishop, which was carried out in the witness of the representatives of the church and family members, suggested otherwise.
The post-mortem examination concluded that the death was solely the wish of his creator that came by way of a heart attack.
According to Dr. Andrew Ssekitooleko, the late’s personal doctor, and the head of Lubaga hospital, Dr. Lwanga died of a heart attack that is technically known as Ischemic heart disease. He added that the late Archbishop had a history of the disease and that they had tried to manage it. A blood clot, that was found in one of the main arteries that supplies blood to the heart, however, complicated the condition they had managed for some years, and snatched him away in a matter of minutes.
Indefatigable defender of the weak and vulnerable
Dr. Lwanga was often erroneously regarded as the leader of the Catholic Church in Uganda.
It was after his passing that many got to learn that actually the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, a docket currently held by Bishop Dr. Joseph Anthony Zziwa of Kiyinda Mityana diocese, is the titular head of the institution of the Catholic Church in Uganda.
It was perhaps because of his influential position as the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese – the biggest and most populous of the four archdioceses that make up the Catholic Church in Uganda, that led many to make the conclusion.
In the five dioceses of; Kampala, Lugazi, Masaka, Kasana-Luwero and Mityana; which is where catholicism started in Uganda, but also have the biggest number of followers, his voice rang supreme.
But Lwanga’s position in the country’s social and religious heirachy largely eclipsed that of his superior. This likely was the case because of his unmissable voice of caution, counsel, and wisdom against all forms of injustice that he detected in Uganda.
Many Ugandans have spoken glowingly of the late Archbishop Lwanga as a man who lived the very virtues prescribed by Jesus Christ; Loving God with all your heart, and loving others the way you love yourself.
As Dr. Anthony Zziwa, speaking at Kololo National prayer service on Tuesday April 6, said; the late Archbishop not only loved God so much much, but also his words and many great deeds, were the implementation of God’s commandment on love.
Dr. Lwanga was an outspoken clergy who was often quoted by the media whenever he came out to express himself against ills in society. He was a crusader against human rights violations, against torture, against child abuse and against corruption.
In his humble but assertive stance, Dr. Lwanga never shied away from speaking truth to power whenever he sensed injustices had been committed against anyone.
This is despite many numerous threats and plots by the state machinery that sought to discredit or malign him.
He spoke out against the massacre of hundreds of people in Kasese by the army in 2016. He spoke out against the recent disappearence or kidnap of People-power supporters by security agencies – likening the attrocities to those of past regimes.
He also spoke out many times against child abuse and the evil of corruption, electoral malpractices such as voter suppression and an unleveled playing ground.
Buganda Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, in his reflections of the late Archbishop acknowledged the late as someone whom he said was ‘forthright in his counsel’.
He also praised the late Archbishop for preserving and respecting his culture by acknowledging and often participating in his Mamba clan activities.
The epitome of tolerance
True to his character as a supporter of peace, the late Dr. Lwanga passionately advocated for religious tolerance. This is manifested in his efforts to found the Inter-religious council of Uganda – an umbrella body that brings together all religious faiths in Uganda.
His efforts to seek compromise among religious leaders led him to share ideas, meals and participate in activities that were organised by other faiths.
Isa Kiralira, the Coordinator of the Interfaith Dialogue in Muyenga attests to the late Archbishop’s efforts in building a tolerant society.
Lwanga the transformer
The late Dr. Lwanga’s tireless efforts to liberate millions from the bondage of poverty, have also been acknowledged.
While speaking at Kololo to commemorate the life and contribution of Dr. Lwanga, President Museveni reminded mourners that the late Archbishop’s legacy as a crusader against poverty dates way back to the time he was the Bishop of Kasana Luwero. Museveni said Kizito started Twekembe micro-finance ltd using his own salary. The microfinance grew into a formidable savings group that helps ordinary people access loans.
It is possible that his wisdom and counsel in financial innovations propelled Centenary Bank, which is majority owned by the Catholic Church, to embrace and actually lead the banking sector as the leader in Microfinance banking.
After five days of mourning, and reflection, there’s near unanimity that Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s earthly life of 68 years had indeed been well lived.
As Dr. Kaziimba Mugalu, the Archbishop of the Church not Uganda, concluded, Dr. Lwanga had indeed ran a good race. May the Almighty grant his Soul Eternal Rest.