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St. Charles Lwanga

The Gallant Martyr, Charles Lwanga and the African Flame Tree

On the third of June 1886, around thirty one prisoners of who twenty six were Christians were executed by fire in a village, today known as Namugongo. These Christians were put to death because of their love for Jesus Christ and the faith they had in the one and only true God, under the orders of the king of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga.

Among the Christians was a youthful catholic leader Charles Lwanga, who is today remember as the pillar on to which Christianity is built in Africa. He was the leader of Christians, had been the leader of the pages working in the kings court of great audience hall and displayed unshakable faith and bravery during the time of Christian persecution in Buganda.

During his short Christian life, Lwanga protected the young and vulnerable Christians from the dangers of the pagan lifestyle and practices that had widely spread within the enclosure of the young monarch.
The victory for Christ was heavily dependent on his personal traits and role which was vividly seen from the 25th of May 1886 when the king busted into anger. That evening, as the executioner gather at the palace gates, played the drums and sang songs of doom; Charles assembles all the followers of Christ and comforted them with encouragement and prayers. He also baptized all those that showed courage, knowledge, and desire to persevere for what they believed in although it was considered a crime and rebels.

When Christians were called upon to step aside on the morning that they were sentenced to death, Charles took the youngest Christian, Kizito by hands and both boldly agreed to be Christians and to die for it if praying and believing in God was a crime.

While in Namugongo, the Christians said their morning prayers, grace before and after meals, angelus and rosary. They were confined in small groups of between two to four but kept encouraging each other that words of encouragement were uttered from one hut to another.

St Charles Lwanga
St Charles Lwanga

On the day of the great holocaust, when the keeper of the sacred fuse, Ssenkole choose him as a victim to be burnt apart from the large group as traditional rituals required, Charles bid farewell to his friends and still encouraged them to persevere in hope of meeting again shortly.

At the point of his execution, Charles still showed courage by willingly arranging his own death bed of firewood, and though the fire was set in the wood under his feet, he bearded his agony without a single murmur until the last moment when he called unto God . “my God” this statement shows his determination to reach his destiny in Christ.

In the large fire of about 31 victims, 12 catholic, 13 Anglican and pagans, the song of the days was Christianity, nothing else but loud payers were coming from the fire, not even the unknown pagans resisted or protested being killed. This gives room for us to assume that they must have been converted to Christianity. This can be seen by an attempted by Charles to bring to the notice of his killer Ssenkole that he would one day plunge into real fire if he never changed.

One of the survivors of this execution, Abdul Aziz Bulwadda whose life was spared after loudly declining to be Christian makes us know that if the pagans had not been converted, they have protested too and so their lives be spared. Adding to this, the three Catholics that were forgiven said that even though threatened by death they Christians attempted to convert their killers that even at the time of igniting the Pyre, most likely to have been Bruno Sserunkuuma also brought to the attention of the executioners that they were slaves of the demons that the executioners were claiming to be their killers.

On top of altering insults on his victim, Ssenkole toured him by setting the fire from the wood under his feet and as his feet were roasted, Ssenkoole went about controlling the fire such that it would not spread too quickly.

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