THE consecration of Archbishop Steven Kazimba as the 9th Archbishop of Uganda at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe on Sunday March 01st 2020 once again converged the power and interests of Church, State and the traditional kingdom of Buganda in an interesting fashion.
Religiocultural, traditional and political symbols were in full display from flags, car keys, hymns, chairs, eucharist, robes and staffs.
Equally political and prominent was the competition’s for attention by the church, Kingdom and the State from the roll-call of Bishops, cabinet ministers and other state actors to speeches by representatives of Bishops from all continents, the President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Katikkiro of Buganda and Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa the Organiser-in-Chief.
The significance of the peaceful canonical transfer of power from one Archbishop to another was apparent. Just like the states’ domination in the sponsorship and organization of the church event. Inevitably, perhaps as a reflection of its present power relations with the state and church, Buganda kingdom played a peripheral role at the event.
A crisis – on homosexuality, gender, birth control and ordination of gay priests- within the church was also on full display. The camps from Europe and the Americas each presented a position that targeted the new Archbishop and his flock.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who supports ordination of gay priests, for example pleaded for tolerance and love in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Yet the Archbishop was vehement is his rejection of the very idea and to loud applause. No doubt these internal divisions threaten not just the unity of the church leadership but also of its followers.
The intersection of religious, traditional and secular political interests has a long and problematic history in Uganda.
So do religious divisions. From the ole days of British rule, religion and the church were tools for the capture domination or control of traditional institutions of the colonized peoples and for the general advancement of interests of the colonial state.
Kazimba’s glorious consecration, done in presence of President General Yoweri K. Museveni and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Katikkiro of Buganda was filled with echoes of this past. It was apparent that the more things have changed the more they have remained the same.
Several questions arise from this continuum including: how may the church avoid being used by political actors as an instrument to achieve secular goals including the mobilisation of the public to their political agenda?
Conversely, how can the state avoid being used by the Church to promote an Anglican christianisation agenda?
How may traditional institutions defend themselves from an unspoken symbiotic alliance of the church and the state that seeks to dismantle or diminish its authority?
Also, how may the religious, traditional and state power centers converge to tackle issues of homophobia, gender, sexuality and birth control that threaten their future and the unity of their constituents?
The writer Owek. Apollo N. Makubuya is the Author of Protection, Patronage, or Plunder? British Machinations and Uganda’s Struggle for Independence