Uganda, a country of Sub-Saharan Africa, received Orthodox Christianity only during the early decades of the twentieth century as an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery. The leaders of this movement were Rebuen Mukasa who is better known as Christopher Reuben Spartas, Obadiah Basadjikitalo, Irenaeus Majimbi, and Theodoros Nankyamas.
The introduction of Orthodox Christianity into Uganda and East Africa occurred during the early twentieth century when the Anglicans Reuben Mukasa and Obadiah Basadjikitalo found anomalies among the writing of the Western Christians and delved further into the Bible for answers. After finding reference to the word "Orthodoxy" they extended their search for more information. In 1919, Reuben Mukasa and his friends sent letters of inquiry throughout the world. Receiving one of the letter, George Alexander McGuire, a U.S. citizen of African ancestry, sent them literature on his non-canonical "African Orthodox Church". Now, convinced, Reuben and his friends set to the task of establishing Orthodoxy in Africa.
Through these early contacts, Reuben, who is better known by the name Spartas that he acquired, and his friends came into contact with an Orthodox archimandrite, Nicodemos Sarikas, during the 1930s. Through him they eventually reached the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria and were received into the Orthodox Church. Following years of study under the patriarchate, Reuben Spartas, Obadiah Basadjikitalo, Irenaeus Majimbi, and Theodoros Nankyamas were ordained and returned to their home land to evangelize further their countrymen.
In 1946, the Orthodox communities in Uganda and Kenya were accepted by the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The missionary effort in East Africa suffered a set back during the 1950s from the suppression of the anti-colonial movements by the colonial British government in Kenya and to which the British included the Orthodox missionaries. In 1959, the patriarchate established the metropolis of Irinoupolis (Dar es Salaam) covering Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, with Metropolitan Nicholas assigned to the see that he established in Kampala.
The decades of the 1970s and 80s were years of struggle as schismatic groups brought disorder among the missionaries while the indigenous peoples of Uganda and Kenya continued to be attracted to Orthodoxy on their own. At the same time frequent changes came to the Orthodox hierarchy. Metr. Nicholas was elected Patriarch of Alexandria on 1968 and was succeeded by Metr. Nicodemus. In 1972, he was succeeded by Metr. Frumentius who led East Africa through a period of schismatic intrusions before his death in March 1981.
The metropolitan's seat stayed vacant for months before Bishop Anastasios Yannoulatos was appointed acting metropolitan in 1982. He reopened the seminary in Nairobi and ordained sixty two indigenous priests and deacons and forty-two readers and catechists during the following ten years, leaving a legacy witnessed by his efforts to assimilate the indigenous Christians and empower them to embrace Orthodoxy as their own.
The Church in Uganda and East Africa grew as the people of countries continue to seek Orthodoxy largely by themselves rather than wait for Orthodox missionaries from elsewhere to seek them out.
The continued growth of Orthodoxy has borne witness to the founding of the first monastery in Uganda on March 13, 2011 with the dedication of the women's monastery to St. Mary of Egypt.
|Orthodoxy in Africa|