Mwanga is one of the Kings (Kabaka) of the Buganda Kingdom. Also known as Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa, he came to the throne at the age of 16. This was after the death of his father Muteesa I of Buganda.
As a young King, Mwanga saw the coming of Christian Missionaries a threat to his Kingdom unlike father who had played-off the three religions, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, against each other and thus balanced the influence of the European colonial powers. He did aggressively approached the situation.
Although Mwanga had shown some love for the missionaries as a young prince, his attitude changed when he became king. He became a persecutor of all religions and all foreigners. At this point, Mwanga insisted that all Christian converts abandon their faith or face death. This was after expelling the missionaries.
He felt that all the loyalty and authority had diverted to the new influence in the region. Yet according to tradition, the Kabaka (King) was the centre of all power and authority. All these frustrations turned into more chaos over time.
Uganda Martyrs killings by Mwanga
A year after becoming king, execution of Yusufu Rugarama, Makko Kakumba, and Nuuwa Sserwanga, who had converted to Christianity took place. On 29th October 1885, he also ordered the killing of Archbishop James Hannington, an Anglican.
People killed because of the faith were then referred to as the Uganda Christian Martyrs. The above four were the first Anglican martyrs and later Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe became the first Catholic martyr. This was on 15th November 1885.
The killings by Mwanga were by beheading, castrating, spearing and burning. Some of these include; Musa Mukasa, Anderea Kaggwa, Ponsiano Ngondwe, Denis Ssebuggwawo, Antanansio Bazzekuketta, Gonzaga Gonza, Eriya Mbwa, Muddu-aguma, Matiya Mulumba, Daudi Muwanga, Kibuuka Kayizzi, Nowa Mawaggali, Kitoogo Mayanja, Muwanga, Karoli Lwanga, Lukka Baanabakintu, Yakobo Buuzabalyawo, Gyaviira, Ambrosio Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Mukasa Kiriwawanvu, Achileo Kiwanuka, Kizito, Mukasa Adolofu Ludigo, Mugagga, Bruno Sserunkuuma, Mbaga Tuzinde, Alexanda Kadoko, Kifamunnyanja, Giyaza Kiwanuka, Frederick Kizza, Kwabafu, Mukasa Lwakisiga, Lwanga, Mubi-azaalwa, Robert Munyagabyangu, Njigija Muwanga, Danieri Nakabandwa, Nuwa Walukagga, Wasswa and Jean-Marie Muzeeyi.
It is believed that a group of 23 Anglicans and 22 Catholics converts were executed between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887. Thus the Uganda Martyrs.