Drama ensued on Christmas day as a section of Anglican Christians in Itojo Sub-county, Ntungamo District, protested against the leadership of Ankole Diocese for reportedly blocking them from joining South Ankole Diocese where they can “conveniently” get services.
Demonstrating Christians from different churches in the sub-county carried blurred posters of Ankole Diocese Bishop, Rt. Rev. Sheldon Mwesigwa and placards containing a plethora of messages, expressing their anger.
One of the posters carried a message that read: “Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa, stop dividing Itojo Archdeaconry, you are a shepherd not a ruler of the flock. Avoid temptation, Jesus overcame it.”
Another one was written in Runyankore – “Turuhire obwebembezi bubi”, which translates to we are tired of bad leadership.
One of such posters was pinned on a church lectern.
The protestors demanded that Bishop Mwesigwa grants them a chance to “secede and enjoin themselves” to South-Ankole Diocese, under the Shepherdship of Rt. Rev. Nathan Ahimbisibwe.
They vowed to resort to forceful measures if their peaceful pleas aren’t listened to, alluding to both Biblical and European History to justify their cause.
Bishop Mwesigwa is accused of mismanaging church funds and also ignoring his duties in stretching his shepherd-ship to that part of the area.
Further still, the protestors denounced their allegiance to Ankole Diocese as far as remitting financial contributions to the diocese is concerned.
The Christians say they have desired for long to join South Ankole Diocese since it was in created in 2012.
Leaders speak out
Denis Muhumuza Savimbi, the Itojo sub-county district Councilor, says that Itojo Archdeaconry has been remitting its financial quota effectively and “giving lots of prizes and money to the bishop.”
And because of those privileges, Savimbi claims, Mwesigwa has “become selfish and doesn’t want us to move on.”
To fight the Bishop, according to Savimbi, they are working out means to mobilize people and chase way all the Reverends by reporting them to Ruharo, the headquarters of Ankole Diocese.
“If he fails, we shall attack his reverends and drive them to Ruharo. By the beginning of 2018, we do not want any reverend appointed by Ankole Diocese in our churches and we shall do it,” said Savimbi.
David Ndyabahika, the leader of the Laity at Ruhanga Church of Uganda said Kyamate — the seat of South Ankole Diocese is only 10 kilometers from their local church yet Ruharo-Mbarara, the headquarters of Ankole Diocese which currents serves them; under Ankole Diocese, is 68 kilometers away.
Ruhanga Church is under Itojo Archdeaconry, which has 20 churches with over 25,000 Christians.
Myres Tumusiime Katahwa, the head of laity in Itojo Archdeaconry said much as they have on several occasions petitioned Ankole Diocese and the Provincial Assembly as well as Archbishop Stanley Ntagali over the matter, Bishop Mwesigwa has failed to care.
“This is why we have resolved not to remit any money to the diocese and if the reverends go against this [decision], we shall lock the churches and stop any activity related to Ankole Diocese,” said Tumusiime.
He says that Bishop Mwesigwa has been “threatening them and calling them rebels”.
On December 14, 2017 during a meeting archdeacon headquarters, Tumusiime told this website, the bishop sent police that dispersed their meeting.
Commenting on the development, South Ankole Diocese Bishop, Rt. Rev. Nathan Ahimbisibwe said the concerns of Christians in Itojo are genuine but called for patience.
“Everyone knows the issues of Itojo,” Bishop Ahimbisibwe said.
When contacted Bishop Mwesigwa said that the Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali had actually earlier advised the grieved over the uproar, saying that the move is a political plot by self-seeking individuals being behind the protests.