The Celebration started with the Holy Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church and was well attended by worthy Brothers and Sisters.
Matthias Kalemba , the “Mulumba” was born about the year 1836 in Bunya county of Uganda in East Africa. He was a Bagandan from the kingdom of Buganda and was also from a poor family. As a child, he lived with his peasant family in the Bunya county, Bugasa where they belonged. He was captured along with his family during a slave raid in Bugasa and sent to Buganda where they became slaves and where later sold to Magatto, an uncle of Mukasa, the then Kabaka of Buganda. His name was then changed from Musoga, the name given to him at birth to Kalemba because of his devotion to duty in his new family where he was treated as a member rather than a slave. At the death of his adopted father, Magatto, he gained the title ‘Mulumba’ as the headman in the service of chief Saingo of Buganda and at baptism, he took the name Matthias.
When the leadership of Buganda fell on the Kabaka’s, he became the absolute monarch. It was during the reign of Kabaka Nwanga who took over at 18 years after the death of his father Kabaka Mutesa in 1884 that trouble started.
Before his father’s death, Islamic religion had gotten into Uganda through the Arabs in 1846 followed by the protestants with the Catholics following closely behind. Kalemba became baptized in 1880 becoming a Catechumen and due to his belief and practice of the Catholic faith, retained only one wife though he initially had three.
Nwanga being afraid that the coming of Christianity might bring about the annexation of his kingdom and also being encouraged by the Arabs, initiated the killing of the protestant Bishop who had then just arrived in Buganda. Fearing again that the Christians in his court might reveal his involvement in the act, he started the execution of Christians which was worsened by the open criticism by one Joseph Mukasa. His cabinet leaders further encouraged him to kill all Christians in his service as they also dissuaded the pages (boys) in his service from yielding to his homosexuality.
On Sunday November 15, 1815, the killing of Christians started in Buganda and Kabaka saw to it that all who practiced Christianity were eliminated and among them was Matthias Kalemba, our patron saint but rather than extinguish it, the Catholic faith grew from strength to strength. The ‘Mulumba’, who led the Christians at Mityana in county Saingo was to die a horrible death and was arrested with his friend and helper, Luke Banabakintu at Kidanada. They spent the night of 26th May,1886 in prison with their arms and feet tied in stockers which left their friends that brought food to them with no option than to roll food into their mouths with them (Matthias and his friend) saying “You see, we have no arms”.
One day, Katikiro, one of Nwanga’s headmen asked Kalemba, “Have you become a Christian at your age?” and Kalemba answered “Yes I have”. He also asked, “And who cooks your food now that you have sent away your wives?” to which Kalemba asked “Is it because I am thin or because of my religion that you have sent for me?” this enraged the Katikiro who shouted, “Take him and kill him with the rest. Cut off his hands and feet, tear strips of flesh from his back and roast them before his eyes and let God deliver him!” On their way, Kalemba refused to continue their journey to Namugongo (the place of death) and sat down saying “I am not going any further, kill me here”.
The guards pounced on him, cutting off his hands at the wrists, then at the elbows and hacked his legs off at the knees. As they sawed through the bones, Kalemba’s only words where “My God, My God”. Then they tore off flesh from his chest and shoulders and roasted with him watching. To prolong the agony, they tied the veins and arteries to prevent him from bleeding to death quickly. It took Kalemba three days to die (from Friday 27th to Sunday 30th May, 1886).
It was this exemplary life of this African that inspired Rev. Fr. Ojefua of blessed memory, with the approval of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria to inaugurate the Order of Blessed Mulumba in 1952. And on 14th June 1953, the Order was formally inaugurated at the Chapel of Holy Ghost College, Owerri by His Lordship, Bishop Joseph B. Whelam. He was canonized a saint with the other Ugandan Martyrs in 1964 by Pope Paul VI at Rome and the name of the Order was consequently changed to the ORDER OF THE KNIGHTS OF ST. MULUMBA, NIGERIA.
St. Mulumba … pray for us!!!
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