KAMPALA – I had no intentions of saying anything about Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s death; I was equally shocked that the man who had actively participated in the Good Friday ritual of walking the cross had died in the comfort of his sleep.
Bishop Odama in expressing shock at Lwanga’s death mentioned that he had talked to his colleague on phone later on in the night but throughout their conversation, Cyprian did not mention that he was sick or fatigued, he was well.
There is a story of Prophet Nathan who went to deliver a message from the skies to King David as recorded in 2 Samuel Chapter 12:1-22. It was a hard task to deliver such an embarrassing message to the King but Nathan stood his ground without fear. Such is a character I can easily liken to Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. He stood for the truth on many occasions and I am sure he repented whenever he made a mistake, for he was a humble guy. He advocated for justice, national unity, national development, truth and reconciliation, promoting democracy, rule of law, good governance and resisting bad politics.
Unlike other religious leaders, Lwanga’s hard stunts on checking the excesses of government with boldness is what made his death a hurt attack to the rest of us who are still breathing. Forget about the rumour that made rounds last year that Lwanga had visited state house and was gagged against speaking for the opposition, on allegations that he asked the congregation to only pick ripe coffee- which points to the red colour used by the People Power and finally for having proposed that a 10% tithe to the church should be collected at source. At the end of the day, Lwanga was just human capable of falling short of our expectations.
That aside, it is Lwanga’s death that has brought us into communion with each other. Many are asking questions quietly for fear of annoying the powers that be. But what is the fear for, it is the hurting heart attack that is a topic of our talk today- after all it is said that Lwanga died of a heart attack- that is why many of us are hurt; it is a hurt attack that we are standing up against.
Former Presidential Candidate Kyagulanyi who was a close friend of Cyprian was the first to raise eye brows when he said the death of Lwanga is a continuation of a long-running trend of outspoken religious leaders dying under mysterious circumstances.
Kyagulanyi again made the same statement in Church after the Easter Sunday Mass at Rubaga Cathedral and he was applauded vigorously by the congregation meaning that many people shared the same sentiments but could not come out to say a word. I imagine that if Kyagulanyi’s words did not make sense to the Church, they would have been watered down by Father Achilles Mayanja or Monsignor Charles Kasibante who were in attendance. The Catholic Church Leadership remained mute; to the wise these unrefuted allegations spoke loudly but in silence.
But why should anyone in government feel guilty about these sentiments? With the exception of Dr. Kizza Besigye who has since apologized, no one else has directly pointed a finger at Government or any of its agencies for the death of Lwanga. Why is the government feeling guilty for a crime it has not committed? It could be the work of the mafia or power struggles within the Church that led to Dr. Cyprian KizitoLwanga’s death. If it is poison, there is a possibility that somebody else could be responsible and not the state.
Dr. Chrysostom Muyingo who was present on Easter Sunday and spoke on behalf of government in his capacity as a minister equated Kyagulanyi’s claim to politicking. The minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakoobahad on the previous day while addressing the media cautioned Ugandans against speculating about what killed Lwanga. It appears she expected Lwanga’s followers to welcome his death with open arms.
While speaking at Kololo air strip, Museveni said that it is difficult to understand how Lwanga could die of a condition that was well-known for long by his doctors. Museveni said he consulted his personal doctor who told him Lwanga’s condition could have been better managed since it was known. Museveni insisted in his speech that Cyprian’s medical team should provide some answers in line with the findings of the postmortem alluding to the cause of death as having been a heart attack-Ischemic heart disease.
To the President, merely stating that Cyprian Kizito Lwanga died of a heart attack is not enough explanation due to the deceased’s health history. Telling mourners that the findings of the postmortem are consistent with the previous history of illness that the archbishop had is not a sufficient answer. I hope the state does not “Nebandalise” Lwanga’s death by sending his medical team to Luzira for a negligence act leading to Cyprian’s death.
Reading from a jointly signed document, Dr. Ssekitoleko read the report saying that the body of the archbishop had been subjected to a postmortem at Mulago to ascertain what had caused his sudden death and it was confirmed medically that Cyprian died of a heart attack due to a blood clot in the arteries. He explained that the postmortem was conducted by a team of senior pathologists in presence of Cyprian’s family and physicians delegated by the church.
These Doctors owe us a duty of explaining in details what a blood clot is and what causes it so that we can do things to avoid a similar incident occurring to others in future. The question that has not been answered is whether there is any relationship between slow to kill poison and heart attacks or blood clots? This question is not for today, the medical practitioners will give us answers at the right moment after healing from the hurt attacks.
My surprise in all this was the decision to accord Lwanga a state send off but Museveni poured cold water on my shock. Cyprian was being given the 17 gun salute for the role he rendered during the bush war that brought NRA into power. That salute is a preserve of a four star General, what rank was Lwanga during the bush war? Museveni says Cardinal Wamala and Lwanga were sympathisers to his NRA rebels and helped them-NRA- with food. I personally had no idea Lwanga was part of the under-cover rebels that brought Museveni into power.
No wonder Lwanga always told off the President without fear. I recall an incident when Lwanga wrote a pastoral letter to Museveni in 2012 asking him not to consider aspiring for the 2016 Presidential elections. His request was ignored and turned down; Museveni again contested in 2016 and won and immediately embarked on amending the Constitution to get rid of the age limit so as to contest again in 2021. Now that Lwanga is gone, Museveni must be planning for the 2026 Presidential elections with him as a candidate.
This reminds me of the Luganda saying that once a man that you used to rob with spends a night at your house, it is better to remain awake lest you find him gone with your belongings. I think this could explain why Museveni fears any clergy-opposition-relationship; he knows what these men in collars are capable of doing having worked with them to throw out Uganda’s former President Milton Obote. With such a guy like Lwanga in the same house with you, there is no room for slumber and if you must, there has to be a trusted third eye spying on him.
Obviously, Lwanga’s sudden death has raised answerless questions. I personally don’t know why Doctors always take our illnesses for granted even when they have the basic skills to avert these health complications from taking life. Before you talk about heart attacks, tell us something about clots, what causes these clots, do they emerge from nowhere, are we supposed to blame clots on life style? I personally thought blood clots are associated with accidents and other injuries on the body. We are not told whether Lwanga suffered any accident or injuries to justify a blood clot.
I think somebody should have said Lwanga had the Ischemic heart disease which was accelerated by a blood clot and which clot blocked the flow of oxygen. Is there a link between a blood clot and the so called Ischemic heart disease, is one caused by the other? That is the language some of us would understand. You leave us with no option but to conclude that there must be some conspiracy theories surrounding these sudden deaths of mainly religious and political leaders who have died in a similar way.
Lwanga would never let Easter pass without throwing a hurt attack at Government. During the Easter season of 2018 while taking part in the way of the cross, Lwanga revealed at the end of the walk of a plot to kill him because he was suspected of planning to overthrow the government. The government attempted to deny the claim in vain until a meeting was called between the president and Cyprian Lwanga to silence the heat.
Again in the same month and year 2018 during prayers at Rubaga Cathedral, Lwanga said something that others would have feared to say in public. He told the congregation that state spies had been recruited and trained to take up leadership positions in church but with a different motive. He cited a case of a Priest who had died under unclear circumstances and later security personnel went to his residence demanding for a gun that the priest had been using to do their work. Imagine a gun for a Priest! Who gave it to him and what work was he doing when he was supposed to be shepherding the Christian flock?
One would have expected the government to deny the claim but alas, Lwanga’s fearswere confirmed by Security minister Gen.Tumwine when he said the state spies on all those doing “wrong things” and that if Lwanga was not doing anything sinister, he had no reason to worry.But how does the state know that somebody is doing something wrong, it begins like Tumwine confirmed by planting spies on that person to gather evidence.
It appears this was not a joke. Several legislators later added their voices that some of the believers especially in the Catholic Church were scared of seeking penitence and holy Eucharist owing to suspicion that the presiding Priests could be recording their confessions for onward delivery to the state or giving them poison-laced Eucharist. This fear is what I call a hurt attack against the church. Many of their followers could lose trust in their priests for fear of being spied upon by agents of the state hiding under the church gown.
It is such fear of spies in places of worship that has seen divisions as believers have to go about looking for religious leaders that they can trust. The best example is the split that created two Muslim factions one based at Kibuli and another at old Kampala. A spy is trained to be secretive and discreet and whoever-spy defies this unwritten law usually dies mysteriously, some time in an alleged foiled robbery, accident or a heart attack.
I recall these MPs who included Sewungu, Betty Nambooze, Kasibante and Sempala Kigozi demanding for an independent commission of inquiry into Lwanga’s fears but their demands were ignored and no such commission was ever constituted and these MPs did not even form their independent commission of inquiry as threatened. These MPs had one major fear and it arose out of our history, the killing of Janan Luwum on wrong information provided by ill trained spies who had to be seen working. That’s what I call a hurt attack that could have been avoided by the alleged commission of inquiry.
But why do Ugandans refuse to trust postmortem reports especially when there are sudden deaths usually associated with hypertension, diabetes, heart failures? We seem to be giving covid 19 a lot of attention when our real enemy is heart failure or heart attack.
Among notable leaders that died mysteriously under a disguised heart attack include former Minister of Internal affairs Aronda Nyakairima, Sheikh Kaliisa, Kirunda Kivenjinja, Meddy Kaggwa, Charles Muhangi, Kasirye Gwanga, former Minister Stephen Mallinga, Ambassador Najuna, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata, Shaban Bantariza and now Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. Irrespective of the conspiracy reported, now is the time to consider sensitizing the masses to be aware of heart attacks lest the country continues experiencing shocking hurt attacks.
As we continue giving thanks to mother-nature for the life and mourning Cyprian’s death, it is fitting to reflect on the values Cyprian lived for during his time as a prelate and pray a road will be named after you and you will in future be considered a Saint. RIP Dr.Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
The author, Wadada Rogers is a lawyer and human rights activist.