- October 11, 2017
- Posted by: Emmanuel Obong
- Category: martyrs
Kizito’s parentage and work as a royal page
The youngest of the martyrs, Kizito, was born at Waluleta (for¬merly Bukkanga) near Bbowa in the county of Bulemeezi. As in the case of so many of the martyrs, there has been some confusion about his parentage and ancestry, owing to the ambiguity of the Luganda terms of relationship.
Kizito’s real father was Lukomera of the Lungfish (Mamba) Clan, and his mother, who bore Lukomera nine children before she deserted him and died, still a pagan, at the age of forty, was Wanga¬bira of the Civet-cat (Ffumbe) Clan. Nyika, or Nyikomuyonga Guardian of Mwanga’s umbilical cord, often said to be the father of Kizito, was his father by adoption only. The relationship arose from a blood-pact between Nyika’s father Kiggwe and a member of the Lungfish Clan named Mitalekoya. Kiggwe, a descendent of Ka¬baka Kateregga and a member of the Leopard (Ngo) Clan, was county chief of Ggomba when he made this alliance. Later he incurred the royal displeasure, was deprived of his office and possessions and be¬came, because out of favour with the Kabaka, virtually an outlaw. In this time of adversity, the blood-pact stood him in good stead. Because of it, the Lungfish Clan gave him and his family asylum and aid, and Mitalekoya became a second father to his son Nyika.
During Muteesa’s reign, Nyika managed to restore the family for¬tunes and rose to the position of Kangaawo, county chief of Bule¬meezi, a position which he held when Speke, who refers to him as ‘Congow’, visited Buganda. As county chief, Nyika was able to show his gratitude to the members of the Lungfish Clan for their timely succour and assistance. Amongst the appointments he made was that of Kizito’s father, Lukomera, to a chieftainship in the county.
Then, in 1874, Nyika in his turn lost the royal favour. He was deposed, stripped of all his property and left destitute, until the Kabaka relented sufficiently to give him the small chieftainship of Kajongolo. It seems to have been about this time that Nyika decided to adopt one of the sons of Lukomera, who had shared in his down¬fall. He asked for Nsubuga (later baptized Michael) but Lukomera persuaded him to take Kizito instead.
The young Kizito’s future seemed assured when first, Kabaka Muteesa restored to his adopted father the title of Namutwe, and then Mwanga, on his accession, appointed him Guardian of the Cord, a post second in importance to that of Chancellor. With a patron of such importance, the youth could expect rapid advance¬ment and the first step towards this was taken when Kizito became a royal page. Although his prospects seemed rosy, even the most sanguine could not have foreseen that this young lad would achieve immortal fame within the short space of two years.
As a page, Kizito was attached to the group which served in the private quarters of the enclosure and not, as previously thought, to that under Charles Lwanga in the court of the audience hall. It is likely that he had become interested in the Catholic religion before entering the royal service, because Nyika, although too much at¬tached to pagan ways and to his numerous women to become a Christian himself, was very well disposed towards the Catholic Fathers and placed no obstacle in the way of any member of his household who wished to follow their religion.
The youthful Kizito, continuing the family tradition, became an eager and fervent catechumen, seizing every opportunity for in¬struction and, after the martyrdom of Joseph Mukasa, constantly importuning the priests to baptize him. He seems to have been em¬ployed largely as the Kabaka’s errand boy. It was he who was sent to the Lake to order the canoes for Mwanga on the fateful day, 25 May 1886. He also used to be sent to collect, drive to the Palace and deliver to the royal butchers the cattle selected for slaughter for the royal table. Being young, cheerful and good-looking, he was also one of the objects of the Kabaka’s unnatural lust. However, in this child of about thirteen the tyrant encountered a resolution and resistance to his gross passion that put him to shame. Members of his clan suggest that Kizito was about sixteen when presented at Court, but the general opinion of those who knew him is that he was no more than fifteen, at the most, at the time of his death at Namugongo. Nevertheless, despite his youth and his small size, he was sufficiently mature to understand the evils that surrounded him at Court and to understand and love the virtue of chastity.
Kizito demands for baptism
Mugagga and Kizito, and their fellow-page from the audience hall, Gyavira, all good-looking boys, were special objects of Kabaka Mwanga’s unwelcome attentions but, encouraged by their fellow Christians, had managed to stand firm against both blandishments and threats. Like his companions, the little Kizito, aged about four¬teen and youngest of the martyrs, had no illusions about the danger of resisting his Kabaka’s evil desires. He was constantly beseeching Pere Lourdel to baptize him because, he said, the Kabaka would not think twice about putting him to death. The priest put him off, tel¬ling him that he was too young to know his own mind and also in¬sufficiently instructed; but, refusing to be discouraged, the lad persisted with his entreaties. On one occasion he stayed the whole night at the mission, declaring that he would not leave until the date for his baptism was fixed. On another evening, Lourdel was only able to get rid of him by taking him in his arms and putting him out through the window. Finally, yielding to the boy’s importunities and moved by his obvious sincerity, Pere Lourdel promised to baptize him in a month’s time. Before the month was over, Kizito was both bap¬tized and a martyr.
Kizito’s parents plead for his life
It seems strange that with a patron so highly placed at Court, Kizito should not have been spared the supreme sacrifice. Indeed Lukomera, his father, believed that Nyika, his father by adoption and guardian of the King’s umbilical cord could have intervened successfully on behalf of his adopted son, and reproached him for not doing so. Probably Nyika, having twice already had bitter ex¬perience of the effects of the royal displeasure and of the capricious¬ness of the royal favour, dared not risk approaching the Kabaka directly. He did, however, plead with Mukaajanga, the executioner, to spare his adopted son, probably believing that this intervention would prove effective. In normal circumstances, the wishes of the Guardian of the Cord would certainly have carried great weight, but Mukaajanga had even greater fear of the Chancellor and was, moreover, smarting at the disappointment of being unable to save his own adopted son, Mbaaga Tuzinde. His words to Kizito, when placing him on the pyre, ‘Did you think I would kill my own friends and spare you?’ reveal this bitterness very clearly. Not that there had been any plea for mercy from the boy himself who, with his eyes on the martyr’s crown so nearly within his grasp, had made no effort to placate the old man but, on the contrary, offended him by various audacious remarks, such as, ‘You arch-devil! The fire that burns your tobacco will one day burn you.’
It is gratifying to note that, although Nyika remained and died a pagan, Kizito’s own father, Lukomera, was inspired by his son’s heroic sacrifice. One day after the end of the persecution, he asked Michael Nsubuga, another son, to which religion Kizito had be¬longed. Being told, ‘the French religion’, he urged all the members of his family to become Catholics.
The martyrdom of St. Kizito
Honorat Nnyonyintono (castrated) Denis Ssebuggwawo (speared) and James Buzabalyawo had been barbarically treated probably to intimidate the rest of the Christians. But as for Kizito, as young as he was had been somewhat unnerved by these barbarous treatments.
On seeing all these, Honorat Nyonyintono, Charles Lwanga, Andrew Kaggwa, Nasibu and other leading Christians advised the younger pages, Kizito inclusive to flee from the Court for the time being. These, how¬ever protested that to do so would be equivalent to denying their religion.
On showing such determination, Charles embarked on Kizito. From time to time, an involuntary shudder shook his small frame. Charles tried to re-assure him, his voice sweet and persuasive, ‘When the decisive moment arrives, I shall take your hand like this. If we have to die for Jesus, we shall die together hand in hand.’
This indeed became true because when the Kabaka ordered all pages to be assembled and Christians to separate from non-Christians, Charles then, taking Kizito by the hand, and closely followed by the other Christian pages, he walked calmly to the spot indicated by the Kabaka.
Pere Lourdel (Mapeera) who was at Munyonyo (but outside the court) seeking audience with Kabaka, wrote; “I saw little Kizito laughing at the odd situation. He looked as happy as if he were at play with his friends. …
After the sentence, Christians were at once tied in slave yokes and led away to Namugongo to be burnt. From Munyonyo, where the sentence was passed, Kizito, at 14 years, together with fellow Christians matched first to Mmengo (about 7 miles) then to Namugongo another distance of about 20 miles with chains, slave yokes, etc around their necks, hands and legs.
Kizito walked all the way to Namugongo and was burnt alive with other fellow Christians on the Ascension Thursday, 3rd June 1886.
Kizito’s father becomes a Catholic
It is gratifying to note that, although Nyika remained and died a pagan, Kizito’s own father, Lukomera, was inspired by his son’s heroic sacrifice. One day after the end of the persecution, he asked Michael Nsubuga, another son, to which religion Kizito had belonged. Being told, ‘the French religion’, he urged all the members of his family to become Catholics. He himself became a fervent Catholic and a catechist, converting the whole of the village in which he dwelt. The villagers flocked to listen to his instructions and on Sunday evenings he led them and his family in the recitation of the rosary.