Friday, July 25, 2014

Martyr's Church Katwe a landmark in the artisans' capital

Just like Jesus Christ was born in a manger despised by people, the Uganda Martyrs' Church Katwe was also started in area that was notoriously known for drinking and clubbing.

Martyrs' Church Katwe with it's unique architectural design
It was the vision of one man the late Crannimer Musoke. The late Cranimer was a professional teacher in Katwe township who used to see people  doing all sorts of filth. The literary wept for this area and thought about planting a church in this area.

Rev. Kezekia Walusimbi. The Parish Priest of Martyrs' Church Katwe
In this vision, he saw himself planting a church in this area to enable the people have time to speak to their God. He believed that one day, the people of Katwe will  one day accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. He was a saveed brethren belonging to the Kawempe Group (Omulokole omuzuukufu).

In 1962, Musoke got in touch with a young man called Charles Sinabulya Mwanje who got in touch with the late Jolly Joe Kiwanuka who was the proprietor of White Nile Night Club in Katwe. Jolly Joe gave them permission to start having Sunday services at White Nile Club every Sunday for three weeks. The worshippers were always between 10- 15 and the offertories were not more than 15/- every Sunday.
Rev. Kezekia and Maama Kaweesa -
 the Parish Priest of Uganda Martyrs' Church Katwe

Later on the church was moved to Katwe Market where a well wisher offered them his tea restaurant to be used as a church every sunday. By that time this church was under the greater Kampala parish led by Rev. Macford who was based at All Saints Church Nakasero. Rev. Macford did a great work of baptizing and administering holy communion to this young congregation.
Rev. Kezekia  Kaweesa -

Later on the Bishop of Namirembe, the late Rt. Rev. Dr. Dunstan Nsubuga approached Ssekabaka Muteesa II and requested for a piece of land to build a school for the less priviledged, and a vocational institute to help train destitute and idle youth in Katwe. This idea pleased the Kabaka who willingly gave him that piece of land adjacent to Wansanso gate to the Mengo Palace so that he builds a church and schools. This was the piece of land that used to house the garage for the Kabaka's vehicles.

After the Kabaka had given the Bishop this piece of land, Dr. Nsubuga requested the German Missionaries to build the Uganda Martyrs' Community Centre Katwe. They later on posted a lady called Mrs. Kenneddy to look after this place. They later on posted Capt. Emuria who was in charge of the Masajja Boys Project.

Christians at Martyrs' Church Katwe attending one of the services
In 1963, the church moved form Katwe Market to the Martyrs' Community Centre. By this time, the number of worshippers had greatly increased to 60 in number. At the same time, Sinabulya had come up with a very good choir of seven people they were from Gayaza school namely Ms,. Margaret Nansambu, the lete Jane Namagembe. They had such lovely melodies. Margaret Nansambu is still living and she is the current church warden.  Later on Mr. Paul Musoke the then manager of Mengo Hospital joined the choir.

To the good choir plus the preaching of Mzee Kulanima, many more people joined the church at Katwe.

One of the Choirs at Katwe singing in a service
Later on Christians rebelled and said that it would be very bad for them to belong to Greater Kampala, yet the land on which they were worshipping was given to them by the Kabaka. They said that they wanted to belong to Namirembe Diocese. They thus resolved never to take their offertories to Nakasero. Later on Rev. Macford decided never to step his foot at Katwe to administer sacraments and offer his services.

The Head of Laity, Mr. Ssegawa Peter addresses the congregation during the Sunday service
When Capt. Emuria was transfered to Mbale- Bugisu, Kulanima remained as the caretaker until the Bishop posted Rev. Dothan Kavuma (father of Ven. John Gitta Kavuma the Archdeacon of Mengo) to be the first indigenous Ugandan warden of Martyrs' Community Centre Katwe replacing Ms. Kenneddy who had been transferred  back to Germany. Rev and Mrs. Abisagi Kavuma are the parents to Ven. John Kavuma. Rev. Kavuma worked as the Warden of Martyrs' Community Centre and at the same time as head teacher of Martyrs' Primary School and as a curate in charge of the Church at Katwe since by that time it was still  a sub-parish.
Sunday School children at Katwe Martyrs' Church

Rev. Dothan Kavuma was succeeded by Rev. Yekoyada Nsereko as both Warden and Headmaster and as Parish priest since it had become a Parish. Prince Nakibinge was the Head of Laity while Mwanje Sinabulya was the Secretary to the Parish Council. The duo approached the Mayor of Kampala City, the late Walusimbi Mpanga requesting to be allocated land.

Lucky enough, their prayer was answered as the Mayor allocated them land at the present site of the Church. Before the 1966 crisis, this land used to be a barracks for the King's royal guards.

Construction of the new Church

After the land for the construction of the new church had been acquired, the Christians started to find means of building a new church. At this time, the Rev. Yokana Mukasa had succeeded Rev. Nsereko as the parish priest. Eng. Kaweesa of Kawesa and Partners drew the first plan. The foundation stone was laid by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Dunstan Kasi Nsubuga in 1980.

At this time the church experienced very many huddles including the death of the Architect Eng. Kaweesa, the construction work came to a halt. The foundation that had been dug was abandoned.

When Rev. Ssekitooleko was transferred to Katwe, Eng. Tony Kaggwa made another plan. Later on the late Rev. Dr. Kityo led the ground breaking ceremony and construction started. The church was built up to wall plate. In 1991, Rev. Simon Mpanga and Can. Augustine Magala Musiwuufu were posted to Katwe but they served for only one year. In 1992, Rev. James Balongo was posted to Katwe and started on the work of roofing the church.
A video clip showing the students of Lubiri High ministering in one of the services at the church

In 1996, Rev. Kenneth Ssewannyana and his wife Christine were posted to Katwe after the Church had been  roofed three quarters. During that year, we had the first Christmas service in that Church. Rev. Sewannyana was succeeded by Rev. Paul Muwanguzi Ssentamu.On 7th February 1999, the Church was officially commissioned by the Rt. Rev.  Samuel Balagadde Ssekkadde.

Later on Rev. Ersa Mayanja Lunninze and his wife Sarah Mayanja, were posted to serve at Katwe. They were succeeded by Rev. Kezekia Kaweesa Walusimbi, the current Parish Priest who also serves as the Assistant Archdeacon and the Diocesan Secretary to the Estates Department.

Heads of Laity

We thank God that the late Prince Samuel Nakibinge served as the first Chairman Head of Laity in this church. He served as Chairman for a period of 25 years. He was succeeded by Ssaalongo Stanley Kalyango who served for two terms. He was succeeded by Owek. Gaster Lule and now Mr. Peter Ssegawa. We thank the heads of laity for serving the Lord with all their hearts.

The Parish of Martyrs' Church Katwe is comprised of only one church.

The project house of the Church

The Eastern side of the Church on a typical Sunday

The Main entrance of the Church

The nursery section of Christ Care Kindergarten which also houses the Sunday School

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