Mugagga’s origin and work as a court page
Mugagga’s origin and work as a court page
Mugagga Lubowa, one of the pages persistently solicited by Mwanga without
success, belonged to the Leopard (Ngo) Clan. His father, Mazinga, who
later became a Protestant and took the name Isaiah, had three wives. The
first, Tigalya, was a great-aunt of Seddu Kakinda, the royal bark-cloth
maker. The second wife, Nassubwa, was the mother of the martyr and of
four other children.
Mazinga, because of the relationship by mar¬riage, through his first
wife, received patronage and assistance from Seddu Kakinda who was also
head of the Yam-fruit (Kkobe) Clan. Kakinda established Mazinga and his
family upon one of his estates at Jjalambwa, in Mawokota County, where
Mugagga was born about the year 1870. His name, which means rich or wealthy,
was given to him by his mother in the hope that fortune would look kindly
Following the common Kiganda practice, Mugagga was sent, as a young boy,
to the household of Seddu Kakinda, who brought him up as his own child
and presented him at Court when Mwanga be¬came Kabaka. Some witnesses
suggest that Mugagga worked in the court of the audience hall, but Desire
Wamala asserts positively that he was attached to the private section
of the enclosure. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that he was unable
to receive any religious instruction by day, and could go to Charles Lwanga
at night only. He was thus not publicly known as a Christian, and when,
on the fateful morning of 26 May 1886, he ranged himself with Charles
and the other Christians, the Chancellor himself tried to save him by
stating that Mugagga was not a Christian. The sixteen year old boy would
not accept the chance of escape thus offered to him. He had bravely resisted
the shameful demands of the Kabaka during his catechumenate and now, fortified
by the grace of baptism, received that morning at the hands of Charles
Lwanga, was eager to die for his faith.
Although Mugagga's father became a Protestant, most of his family, including
his mother who received baptism and the last sacraments when mortally
ill, embraced the faith for which he laid down his life. His adopted father,
Seddu Kakinda, also eventually became a Catholic, although at the time
of the persecution he was so horrified at the fate of his adopted son
that he drove from his home his daughter, Namirembe (later Sister Pelagia),
because of her ad¬herence to that religion.
Being attached to the private section of the King’s enclosure,
Mugagga was unable to receive any religious instruction by day, and could
go to Charles Lwanga at night only. He was thus not publicly known as
a Christian, and when, on the fateful morning of 26 May 1886, he ranged
himself with Charles and the other Christians, the Chancellor himself
tried to save him by stating that Mugagga was not a Christian.
In his book, The African Holocaust, J.F. Faupel writes, “…the
Chancellor, who seems to have entered the royal courtyard about this time,
probably to ensure that the Kabaka did not proceed to extreme measures
against his son Mwafu, was looking over the group by the fence. Noticing
Mugagga Lubowa amongst the Christians, he exclaimed: 'You there, Mugagga!
What are you doing amongst the Christians? Don't be a fool! When have
you learnt to pray? Don't try to make us believe that you are one of them!'
Mugagga, not to be turned from his purpose, rejected the chance of escape
thus offered to him. Stepping forward a pace, he said:
'Most certainly I am. Only I have been receiving instruction by night,
so as to avoid vexing the Kabaka, and being troubled by you. Charles has
been my instructor, model and protector, and I wish to die with him for
Jesus. I have spoken.'
The sixteen year old boy would not accept the chance of escape thus offered
to him. He had bravely resisted the shameful demands of the Kabaka during
his catechumenate and now, fortified by the grace of baptism, received
that morning at the hands of Charles Lwanga, was eager to die for his
From Munyonyo where the death sentence for all Christians was passed,
Mugagga was led together with his fellow Christians to be burnt.
When the men began to spread wood over Mugagga at Namugongo, he cried
out, 'Wait a bit! I must have something to drink first: I am suffocating
in this jacket of reeds.' Mukaajanga, informed of the request, agreed,
saying, 'It is a last request which cannot be refused.'
One of the Christians who were spared from the furnace had this to say
according to J.F. Faupel. “Our joyous friend was carried down from
the pyre, untied and given two small portions of plantain-wine, for which
he gave thanks. Some of the pagans thought within themselves, 'Here is
one, at least, who flinches.'
After the executioners had allowed him time to get rid of his stiff¬ness
and recover his breath, they came to Mugagga saying, 'Now you must be
tied up again.' 'Wait just a little longer!' he exclaimed. Then Mukaajanga
said to him, 'I think that the others will be leaving without you.' 'In
that case,' he replied, 'a truce to fooling! Wrap me up quickly in my
reeds. I am at your service.' Then noticing Sebuta, Werabe and myself,
below and to one side, he called out, 'Poor Kamyuka! I am going up to
Heaven. We shall be separ¬ated for a time. Good-bye to you all, until
we meet again.'