Apolo Kagwa and Henry Wright Duta Kitakule, ‘How Religion came to Uganda ‘.
During the reign of Suna he was visited by some Arabs: Medi Abraham, and Kyera, and Amulain, and Mina, and Katukula Mungazija, and Zigeya Mubulusi.
Of these he liked Medi Abraham best, and gave him a great many presents, ivory, women and slaves.
Later on Medi Abraham told Suna, when he saw him killing people, that, although he killed them with so little thought, yet there was a God who created them, and from Him he had obtained his kingdom, and the people he governed, and that he himself was created by Him.
This Suna did not believe, for he said he knew his Lubare gods and they had given him his kingdom, but Medi Abraham repeated his words every time he was called to see him.
Some time afterwards Suna asked Medi, ‘Where is there a God greater than I?’ And Medi told him that there is a God who will raise up all who believe in Him, and they will go to Paradise .
When Suna understood th s, he agreed that Medi should read to him, but only now and then, and he got through the first four chapters of the Koran.
When he had got hold of these, more or less by word of mouth, Medi returned to the coast and did not come again to Uganda, and soon after this Suna died and Mutesa succeeded him, and made his capital at Banda, half-way between Mengo and Ngogwe. He also encouraged Arabs to visit him. Katukula Hali and his friends, and Hamuli Musirimu, and Makwega, a Swahili. Mutesa made friends of these and gave them many things just as his father Suna did before him.
King Mutesa asked Katukula what it was his ‘father used to talk to them about, when they visited him’, and he told him, ‘we used to tell him about God, and King of Kings, and that He will raise people from the dead’.
King Mutesa asked him, ‘Are you not lying? Is there a resurrection from the dead?’ They told him that indeed there was, and that those who learnt the words of God, when they died would rise again.
So King Mutesa said to Katukula, ‘Well then, come and teach me to read,’ and brought a Swahili called Makwega, who taught the king every day, and he learned Mohammedanism very quickly. Some others learned with him whose names are Musisi Sabakaki and Basude Sabawali of Kigalagala, who is now Mutola, and Myakonyi Omumyuka of Myukanya, and later Kauta Mukasa, who was Katikiro, and Mujabi Omutabuza, and Tebukoya, and Sembuzi and Wakibi.
These were first taught, but afterwards the converts were slow in coming forward.
When the king went from his capital, Banda, and went to Nakawa he persevered with his reading and fasted during the first fast, and he then ordered all his subjects to read Mohammedanism. He also learned to write in Arabic: the Arab Wamisi brought the Mohammedan Kibali who taught the king.
Then Mutesa came from Nakawa to Nabulagala, and thence to Rubaga, where he stayed some time. He again ordered his people to read, but he saw they were not giving their minds to it. So he said to his head district chiefs, ‘I want to know if people are learning to believe in Islam well.’ His chiefs told him they were. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘if they are, how do they salute each other as Mohammedans?’ They replied, ‘Some salute thus – Salamaleku dekimu musalamu – others, Sibwakede bwatulise.’
He saw they had not learned to salute, and found that those who had begun to really learn were very few indeed, and he gave orders that every man who had not learnt was to learn the salutation, Salamu alekumu alekumu salaamu or Shabuluheri. And in-anger the King gave orders that everyone refusing to learn was to be seized.
Many who would not learn were then seized, called infidels and killed. Then every married man fixed up a stone in his yard to pray at, and every chief built a mosque, and a great many people became readers, but were not circumcised, and all the chiefs learned that faith.
From the translation by, C. W. Hattersley in Uganda Notes, May 1902, p. 35.
Suna: Kabaka Suna died in 1856 and was succeeded by Mutesa I, Kabaka 1856-84.
Medi Abraham: Ahmed bin Ibrahim, trader from Zanzibar .
Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick