By Ruth Muganzi
Yesterday 3rd June, a mammoth crowd gathered at the Namugongo Shrines in commemoration of the Uganda Martyrs that were murdered by the then King of Buganda, Mwanga. This is an annual event that sees believers walk from far and wide to pay homage to the canonized martyrs that were burnt to death; history has it that the Martyrs were executed for their refusal to denounce their s faith in God.
Having started practicing Christianity and Islam after being converted by the missionaries and Arab traders, the martyrs stopped paying allegiance to the kingship; a step that greatly offended Kabaka Mwanga and this was the primary reason for their execution. However, according to scholars, several issues are considered reasons for this historical execution – one of them being homosexuality. Popular belief has it that homosexuality is a concept adopted from the western foreigners but these scholars assert that it is a practice that dates back to our ancestors.
Homosexuality was an issue that was practiced in society although it was never addressed in public. Many men especially community leaders engaged in the practice behind closed doors because it was believed that sleeping with a fellow man was appeasing to the gods who would in turn reward you with power and wealth. However, with the scientific research that has been done in this day, scholars now believe that these were merely excuses to cover up the homosexual and bisexual tendencies.
An interview conducted by one of Uganda’s leading television stations ahead of this year’s Martyrs day celebrations sees one of the oldest caretakers of the Namugongo shrines stand by the fact that history indicates that homosexuality was not only a familiar deed but was also practiced within the confines of the Buganda palace. After converting to the then newly introduced religions, several people denied the king and palace officials their desire to engage in homosexual practices. This insubordination is said to have angered the officials who advised Kabaka Mwanga to teach them a lesson by executing them.
Below is the interview that gives a deeper insight into the existence of homosexuality from the days of Kabaka Mwanga. Although the greater part of the video is in Luganda, it thoroughly covers the events leading up to the execution of the Uganda Martyrs and how homosexuality came into play.