According to Twaddle thegroupings of Muslims and Christian within these four chieftaincies led to anincrease in insecurity within the Buganda kingdom which in turn introduced an”unpredictable element” into the Bugandan political scene under the reign ofMwanga (Twaddle 58). Within Buganda, there arose four favored chieftaincies: thoseof Ekisalosalo, Eggwanika, Ekiwuliriza, and Ekijasi (Twaddle 57). Thesechieftaincies were given various rights and privileges by Mwanga seeminglywithout end. Other Bugandans began moving into these three chieftaincies andbrought their guns with them, a commodity that was quickly become more and moreaccessible. These three kingdoms became more and more powerful and gainedsubstantial amounts of firepower. These chieftaincies, now powerful well-armed andgiven preferential treatment, became quite a powerful force.
Furthermore, manyof the people living in them and in many parts of Buganda had memories ofsevere persecution in the not so distant past. Amongthem were many Christians whose loyalty to the state had not always been of thefirst priority. Fearing a potential challenge to his reign, Mwanga demandedthat Christians within Buganda apostatize or face the consequences. Manyrefused to do so.
As a result, Mwanga did just what his father had done whenhis authority was challenged by Muslims, he launched a wave of persecution. In1886 Mwanga gathered together around fifty Christians who were taken toNamugongo and executed, including many members of his own court. This wouldlater prove to be a grave political mistake which would have far-reachingconsequences for both Mwanga and the future of the Buganda Kingdom. Thefirst coup to shake the Buganda state occurred in 1888 after concerns byleading chiefs that they would be lead to their death should they embark on aplanned raiding expedition. The instigators of this plot were the Muslimleaders Muguluma and Kapalaga, who did their best to rally Christian chiefs andclans to their banner. This task was not always easy as Catholic and Protestantmissionaries were encouraging their converts not to participate in therevolution but instead to flee from Buganda. At the time of the revolution,there were many Christians within Buganda who favored this option.
Withoutpressure from Muslim leaders it is doubtful whether Christian chiefs would havetaken part in the coup at all (Twaddle 61). However, in the end, Christiansagreed to take up arms and Mwanga was overthrown in a lighting-likecoup that would usher in an era of quick royal succession and religious tensionnot previously seen in Buganda. Nexton the Buganda throne would be Kiwewa, something of a Luke-warm Muslim. He likeother Kabakas before him refused to be circumcised which did not exactly endearhim to many Muslim members of his court, already upset that their victory hadnot given them a greater hold over the government.
It did not take long forthis alliance between Christians and Muslims to deteriorate. Many Christiansamong the Buganda court and elsewhere who had been practicing in secret amidstfears of renewed persecution now declared themselves openly. Muslims in Bugandabegan to worry that their own position may be threatened by this substantialincrease in Christians. Muslim control over the Kabaka was not unassailable dueto luke-warm Kiwewa, combined with a growing number of Christians the Muslimpower dynamic, so short-lived, was now under threat. In the October of 1888,this growing rift between Muslims and Christians would explode once again intobloody civil strife and see Kiwewa wrenched from his still warming throne.
Variousschools of thought, most of which are conjecture, attempt to explain whathappened on that fateful day. Christian sources, mainly from missionaries inBuganda at the time, claim that Arabs began whispering in the ears of Muslimsin the Kabaka encouraging them to attack Christians and remove them frompositions of power. Wanting to reserve rule of Buganda to Muslims alone.
Another explanation states that Muslims had requested that the position ofpalace cook be awarded to a Muslim so that he could properly prepare the foodso as to be fit for Muslims consumption. This was originally agreed to, however,”a Christian chief Antoni Dungu, insisted on having the post of kauta (cook) andthreatened to fight for it. While both sides were discussing his ultimatum, oneof Dungu’s pages stabbed the Muslim chief Sirimani Lubanga to death” (Oded 16).
However it began it was not a battle that the Christians were destined to win.In his Muslim Revolution in BugandaTwaddle explains what most probably happened according to an eyewitness. AChristian chief Nyonyintono overheard that he was to be replaced as the firstminister by Muguluma. Rumors of Muslim soldiers forming around the capital alsobegan to reach him just as two Muslim subordinates pointed their guns at himlaughing, followed by a mock salute (Twaddle 65). Throughout the course of theday afight broke out in court, which then turned into a Muslim Christian brawl.Several Christian chiefs not wanting a bloodbath fled the country.
Christianmissionaries on the advice of Arab traders in the country were put in prisonand were later released and forced to leave along with other Buganda Christianswho had initially stayed behind.