16 February 2017

Uganda: Was Archbishop an Accidental Victim?

Photo: Daily Monitor
Calm before the storm. Archbishop Luwum (left) with president Idi Amin before the murder.

Kampala — A proposal was presented to president Amin by his Islamic backers to impose a total ban on all Christian churches and turn Uganda into an Islamic state.

But the sheikhs at Old Kampala misappropriated the funds to build mosques and conduct the mass conversions.

But the smaller churches were banned as they were accused of being conduits of America's spy body, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Fridays had been turned into public holidays.

To ban the two big churches, a plot was contrived from 1974 to link the Anglican Church to former president Obote, and the Catholic Church to Israeli subversion.

The overall officer-in-charge of these plots was John Bikoho, an adviser to Amin.

Previously, Bikoho had worked for Obote as a speech writer, including writing the Common Man's Charter and the Nakivubo Pronouncement. Bikoho also wrote Amin's speeches and his Declaration of the Economic War, but he was killed in 1976 in a helicopter crash. The helicopter had been intended for Amin and President Mobutu by USSR operatives, who wanted Amin dead for being under the influence of Mobutu, who was supporting US war on Angola.

When Bikoho died, Amin began making blunders. There were officials in the State Research Bureau (SRB) working under Bikoho but were illiterate. Saudi Arabia stopped funding Amin, forcing him to turn to the Palestinians in 1976. But that ended after the Israeli Raid on Entebbe.

By the end of 1976, Amin was desperate for Islamic funding. So when it was announced Church of Uganda was to celebrate its Centenary, Amin sent ministers Erinayo Oryema and Oboth Ofumbi to convince Luwum to have a joint celebration with the Muslim faith that was marking 150 years in Uganda.

By 1977, Tanzanian intelligence was trading info on Ugandan dissidents to Amin through Saudi Arabia. When Amin got the false information through Kassim Obura those arms to overthrow him were already in Uganda, he acted on it. Obote's camp claims Museveni's camp leaked the exaggerated info to destroy Obote's initiative.

Amin wanted to the intelligence to build a case against the Anglican Church to ban it. When they failed to find guns at Luwum's residence, the army displayed guns captured in 1972 from Uganda guerillas at the Conference Centre. The statements read by captured rebels implicated the Anglican Church, not Luwum.

But Amin's illiterate soldiers in-charge of the occasion - Malyamungu, Adirisi, and Taban Lupai bungled the question to ask the soldiers.

Instead of asking what should be done to the Anglican Church, they asked what should be done to the confessors. Amin was annoyed and ordered his soldiers to call back the Archbishop and the two ministers.

He wanted Luwum to confess and sign a statement to be used to ban the Church, but Luwum refused and was shot.

If Bikoho had lived, probably none of these blunders would have happened.

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