Texts of Resistance: 1934 letter to Bishop from Mothers Union opposing appointment of man charged with domestic abuse

This letter from the members of the Mothers Union was written to the Right Reverend Jaimeson J. Willis, the Bishop of the Native Anglican Church (N.A.C) of Uganda, in 1934.

N.A.C. Mengo
August 29, 1934
Your Lordship,

We members of the Mothers Union of Buganda are writing this letter to you with humility to put before you these matters of painful and serious concern to us. We have received with serious note the news that His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda has chosen his man, Mr. N. Senkonyo, the Mumyuka of Singo County, and promoted him to head the bigger and more important subcounty of Sabalwali in Kyagwe County. This gentleman, however, does not deserve any promotion; rather, he should be gradually phased out for the reasons given below.

That gentleman was sued by his wife in the High Court at Kampala on grounds of adultery, mistreatment, and cruelty when he took to his home two other women, Naomi and Wanyana, with whom he ganged up to subject his wife to extreme abuse. The judge upheld the wife’s complaints and granted a divorce and maintenance of twenty shillings per month, on these grounds. Truly, Your Lordship, we know these things well because we sent twelve of our members to closely observe the proceedings in this case. So, Your Lordship, what reason is there for the promotion of an administrator who was publicly found at fault in a case of that nature? How can an administrator of that kind fairly judge people who indulge in actions like those? If that man is not promoted, is there any great loss to the Buganda government?

But if he has been selected just like any other person, we, as the mothers of the nation, demand, Your Lordship, that you convey to the government there complaints of ours. For, Your Lordship, if such matters are not given serious consideration, it will be a matter of great disgrace. The nation will simply perish and all the hopes of Buganda will be dashed, never realised.

We, as the mothers of the nation, who are deeply concerned about our nation, humbly beg you, if you are unable to handle this matter, Your Lordship, to introduce us to the Provincial Commissioner, [of the] Baganda, or the Governor himself, before this gentleman is confirmed, so that, through our chosen representatives, we can further explain our feelings of pain and shame as a nation and as Christians. We are, Your Lordship, your respectful members of the Mothers Union, Buganda.

Lusi Kafero                                        Secretary of the Union at Natete

Everini Segoba                                  Secretary of the Union at Kibuye

Tabisa Sonko                                    Secretary of the Union at Kungu

Naomi M. Binaisa                              Secretary of the Union at Namirembe

 

The letter was written in Luganda. This translation- by Hilda Ntege Mukisa and Austin Bukenya (2007)- appears in Women Writing Africa: The Eastern Region (Feminist Press, New York, 2007).

*The king, who was still in charge of appointments of subcounty and county chiefs according to 1900 Buganda Agreement, rejected the petition and appointed Mr. Senkonyo despite the opposition.

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