In the course of the two thousand years, Christianity has been extended to the African continent in three stages. The first stage which is early Christianity, makes Christianity in Africa qualify to be as old as Christianity itself. The second stage involves the Portuguese patronized Christianity in Africa. The third stage of the Christian extension in Africa is marked by circumstances of contemporary modern times. Though the concept of Christianity in Africa is as old as Christianity itself, there are very few figures in its long history that are more influential than Archbishop Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka. Archbishop Kiwanuka, the ever first African Bishop, has made an enormous contribution to the expansion of Episcopal Christianity in Africa during the third and final stage of its development. The courageous and spiritual manner in which he lived and taught the concept of Christianity has changed the way Christianity in Africa has been approached and interpreted. Though his rise to episcopacy was clearly an experiment, the success that he has achieved has transformed his story into legendary status. For this reason, it is essential to know about the personality and accomplishments of Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka to have a greater understanding of how modern Christianity in Africa has come to be.
Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka was born on June 25, 1899 in Uganda to the parents of Victor Kato Mmundwekanika Katumba and Felicitas Namukasa Ssabaweebwa Nankya around twenty years after Catholic missionaries had started coming to the African country. He was raised in a devout Catholic home. His parents brought him up very spiritually, as their actions and beliefs heavily reflected a strong connection to the saints whose names they bore. This particular type of upbringing is common in Africa, where people believe they have spiritual connections to the names given to them. Each day, Victoro led his family through an eight mile trek to Mass at the nearest mission station. Consequently, Joseph was instilled with many characteristics of the Christian faith. He learned early on in his young life the importance of working hard, being responsible, and being social throughout the community. For this reason, he was someone that exhibited great potential and ability, and therefore, he was recognized for it. As a matter of fact, it was these traits that he learned early on in his life that proved to be fundamental in the success that he achieved throughout the rest of his life.
Becoming a Priest
Joseph was sent to Mitala Maria Mission School in 1910, after a missionary had seen him reading a book and was favorably impressed by this ability for a Uganda boy at his age. Soon after Joseph's fourteenth birthday in 1913, African Catholics rejoiced when Bishop Henri Streicher ordained the first native Ugandan priests, Basil Lumu and Victor Mukasa Wameraka. Shortly thereafter, Father Wameraka visited Mitala Maria Mission Elementary School, where Joseph still attended. The young Kiwanuka was so impressed with Wameraka and the sight of a Ganda man in clerical robes that he decided he would seek ordination. Following this particular visit and his successful education at Mitala Maria Mission Elementary School, Kiwanuka decided that he wanted to be a priest. He entered a minor seminary where he completed his middle school and high school years, excelling in Latin. After completing five years at a minor seminary which is a middle and high school for boys aspiring to the priesthood, Joseph enrolled at Katigondo Major Seminary. At the Major Seminary, he really started to learn about philosophy and theology. Here, he drew the attention of Streicher, the archbishop at the time, with his extraordinary academic abilities. Although Joseph was young, Streicher recognized his promise as a future leader. However, Streicher understood that, despite Joseph's brilliance, he...
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