Bukaleba Palace and Fort Thurston (Bishop Hannington’s Death Place)

Bukaleba Palace and Fort Thurston is the place were (Bishop Hannington’s was murdered by King Mwanga II of Buganda, It was built by the colonialists who later abandoned it 1898 due to an outbreak of sleeping sickness.

Fort Thurston is surrounded by a natural forest overlooking Lake Victoria, with a vast variety of aquatic and wildlife.

James Hannington (3 September 1847 – 29 October 1885) was an English Anglican missionary, saint and martyr. He was the first Anglican bishop of East Africa.

In the nineteenth century missionaries pushed through African jungles and deserts, learned local languages, and braved pestilential climates to create schools, hospitals, and churches. Some were killed, others contracted debilitating diseases, but by the century’s end a global missionary presence was in place. Disease and martyrdom claimed great numbers.

After arriving at Freretown, near Mombasa, Kenya James Hannington determined to pioneer a shorter and healthier highland road to Buganda, using Christian porters and undercutting the Arab slave route to the south. He was oblivious to the political consequences of traversing Busoga, a strategically sensitive area for the Buganda state. The sudden intrusion of German imperialism at the coast made the Buganda ruler, Kabaka Mwanga, even more suspicious of Hannington’s motives. An oracle (emmandwa) had said that Buganda’s conqueror would come from the East. King Mwanga forbade Hannington from continuing through Busoga and sent him boats to take him to Sukumaland, but Hannington refused. Together with his team, he safely reached a spot near Victoria Nyanza on 21 October, but his arrival had not gone unnoticed, and under the orders of King Mwanga II of Buganda, the missionaries were imprisoned in Busoga by Basoga chiefs.

After eight days of captivity, by order from King Mwanga II, Hannington’s porters were killed, and on 29 October 1885, Hannington himself was speared in both sides. As he died, his alleged last words to the soldiers who killed him were: “Go, tell Mwanga I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

Widespread persecution of Christians followed many being killed or sold to Arab slavers. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, a Roman Catholic and an official at Mwanga’s court, rebuked the king for the deed, and was beheaded for it. Hannington and his companions were among the first Martyrs of Uganda. Hannington’s feast day in the Church of England is October 29. A dedication stone, erected in his memory along with the Bishop Hannington Memorial Church, Hove, England in 1938, bears the inscription “Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy”.

Bishop Hannington built a Nabalindirila water well before his was executed, the well never runs dry.

Every year a group of Anglicans make pilgrimage to this place to commemorate the death of Bishop Hannington.

Bishop Hannington’s death place is located 20 kilometers north of the Mayuge district, Eastern Uganda on Kiando Hill an ancient home of Chief Luba of Busoga.

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