Friday, 26 June 2015
Knights of St Mulumba: Patron Saint’s Day (1)
Knights of St Mulumba: Patron Saint’s Day (1)
On Sunday, June 7, 2015, members of the Order of the Knights of St Mulumba, of theCatholic Church, celebrated their Patron Saint’s Day – St Mulumba. The occasion provides one with an opportunity for some discourse on this page, albeit briefly, on the knighthood in the Catholic Church, which is an esteemed apostolate of service. But before that, a little about the person of St Mulumba will suffice here.
The story of Matthias Kelemba Mulumba, born in 1836, is by and large the story of the martyrs of Uganda; twenty two of them. Bob French, in an article in the August, 2008, edition of The Word Among Us (a Catholic Devotional Magazine) recounts the arrival of the White Fathers – a missionary group of catholic priests presently known as the Missionaries of Africa – to the Kingdom of Buganda in 1879 during the reign of King Mutessa. The king welcomed them as he did the protestant missionaries and muslims before them. As time went on, Mutessa, an astute king, would favour one group now and the other another time depending on political expediency. Many Bugandans came to accept Christianity but because of the erratic nature of the king, they often found themselves in grave danger. Yet the missionaries took advantage of the favourable periods to catechize their converts so well that a hunger was soon ignited for the living word of God, and not just the historical facts of salvation, as Lwanga Mpoza, a Ugandan historian, put it. Thus, when King Mutessa became hostile to, and expelled the White Fathers from his kingdom, the converts continued to win more converts into the faith.
King Mutessa died in 1884 and was succeeded by his son, Mwanga who proved to be even more unstable. Mwanga perceived the Christian coverts to be more loyal to another king, “the God of the Christians”, than to him. The evidence of this, for him, was the effrontery of Joseph Mukassa, his personal attendant and head page, himself a Christian. First, Mukassa “dared” to dissuade the king from putting to death the newly arrived Anglican Bishop, and then he taught the younger pages – boys – not to let themselves be sodomized by the king. This enraged the king and he went after them first by ordering them renounce their faiths and stop further proselytization.
These Christians would not renounce their faith. King Mwanga began to put them to death, first Joseph Mukassa, then Charles Lwanga and then others followed, among them Kizito who was only fourteen years of age and Mulumba, the more advanced. Some of them were chopped to death while others were burnt alive. They valiantly accepted death for their faith. They were canonized saints of the church in 1964.
Knighthood in the Catholic Church dates back to the middle ages when the faithful had to form themselves into small armies to protect pilgrims enroute the Holy Land from persecution and molestation in the hands of Muslim Arabs and Saracens. Ultimately, the knights would fight fierce battles to repel incursions by jihadists into Europe. They fought in defense of the faith.
Today, knights in the church have assumed a different type of “fight”: that against evil by promoting good wherever they find themselves. They are at the service not just of people of the catholic faith but also of the larger society wherever they find themselves. They are called to uphold in a very special way the light of the gospel of Christ: justice, fairness mercy and compassion. The documents of the Knights of St Mulumba specifically note that knights “set themselves the necessary task of uprooting the systemic and structural evil in the society.”
The Order of the Knights of St Mulumba was founded in June, 1953, by the late Anselm Isidahomeh Ojefua, a Nigerian priest and monk. It was a response to the prevalence of groups and fraternities outside of the Church whose activities the Church could not vouch for, and were at best clandestine. The move was to arrest any attraction such groups offered by providing an alternative, since life abhors vacuum. It is open to all practicing catholic men and their wives. In a reflection on the occasion of the thirty-fifth anniversary of his initiation into the Order this year, the Deputy Supreme Knight, Brother Mike Mary-Nwosu noted that “a member of KSM Nigeria is expected to turn from a life of selfishness and sin - a 'Me First' life - to a life of Spirit-filled generosity and love. He becomes a man full of discipline and obedience, a man ready and willing to serve the Church, the Order and others, a man whose integrity and conduct are beyond dispute, a man of peace, and a man always ready to forgive, a man full of zeal and the Holy Spirit.”
Another core dimension of the Christian knighthood is what Lou Whitsworth, in a 1997 essay, refers to as True Manliness, a biblical model of Christian manhood lived in Christ as examples of godly men. Whitworth’s essay identified Roberts Lewis’ three ideals of a modern day knight. The first is A Vision for Manhood, which is that real men reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously, and expect the greater reward.
BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur. June 11, 2015; p2