By Harriet Asingura
Every June 03, the World remembers Uganda’s Martyrs who were executed between January 31, 1885 and January 27, 1887. Unlike in the normal times when people from all corners of the world gather to commemorate the fore-fathers of Christianity, this year, only few crucial people were allowed access to Namugongo shrine where the climax is usually held.
This year’s celebrations marked 100 years since the first pilgrim was made at Namugongo in 1920. A total of 45 martyrs are generally recognised as having been killed during the Kabaka Mwanga I era. Many were burnt at Namugongo while others met their fate in other places within and out of Kyadondo.
All these were males but history records that some women too were killed and among them, was princess Clara Nalumansi who got burnt in 1889. Nalumansi is said to have been a daughter to king Muteesa and Nagadya (one of the 85 official wives of Muteesa) and the elder sister of king Mwanga who was the son of Bagalayazze- another wife to Kabaka Muteesa.
Princess Nalumansi got attracted to the new religion of the Anglican Missionaries in 1877 and is reported to have got baptized on March 18, 1882 together with Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, Jacob Buuzabalyawo, Mathia Mulumba and Noa Mawaggali. The four later after the arrival of Simeon Ludwell and his companions, embraced the Catholic faith.
At the time of the martyrs’ execution, though Nalumansi was a follower of Christianity, she wasn’t killed because the king then, believed women were just forced by their husbands into Christianity and others survived because of pregnancy while many survived just because they were women.
However, after Sekabaka Mwanga’s regime Nalumansi never survived the martyrdom in 1889 when her own Muslim brother Kabaka Kimera got her burnt to death during that time when Christians were killed for their faith.
Rev. Fr Joseph Nkeera in charge of the information department at Lubaga Cathedral says the Roman Catholic church will soon launch Nalumansi’s journey to sainthood that will eventually make her become the first female martyr in Uganda. He however, noted that, such information is susceptible to research and miracles that should even be scientifically proven. Another school of thought, suggests that, Nalumansi’s name belongs to Fumbe clan- according to Baganda culture “hence she can not be princess.”