Have chosen to write this article, while still struggling to understand the core problem & its source bedeviling our beloved church Ruwe Holyghost church of East Africa.From where i sit, my analysis tends to arrive at the conclusion that in this age & era, 82 years after the Musanda fire, which please allow me to refer to it in our church’s calendar as ‘Martyrs Day'(20th January), we are comprised of two fundamental groups of CONSERVATIVE & LIBERAL adherents, who at any given opportunity view each other with unnecessary suspicion in almost every issue. Be it meetings to be convened, decisions to be made, resolutions to be passed, initiatives to be introduced etc, whatever you can think of.
We all agree that apart from the word of God, here on earth, nothing endures forever except change, and I’ve chosen to dwell on the latter.
“The world is changing & in this 21st century, Ruwe Holyghost Church must protect & defend its doctrine to the maximum”. I hear the conservatives talk whenever they speak.”We must stick to the 1930s principles even today! “Ma, ROHO ne ok obirogo omiyo ok wanyal timo, ka watimo, to wabiro ketho/loko ROHO. I hear opinions such as “Namba (ST) ma bedo pinned e nanga kar mondo otwang’, e lony ma tinde ji pando-go kit-gi, kit lewni manyien mitwang’o mag dolo-gi ema oketho wach e din ka, Kombe mathoth mag telo-gi ema medo pogo jolemo zaidi, Roho ok nyal loko ji gi injili, Roho nobiro gi lamo. Omiyo Ruwe Holyghost church owere gi gik manyien ma gidwaro introduce seche te in the name of development ‘kaka piny sudo’.Chike, kitwa gi timbewa kaka jo-Kodongo mango nyaka warit kaka Barnaba, Musa, jaote, Isaya to gi ogandawa mamoko norito nono to pod wabiro mana medo ketho ROHO. To me I think the conservatives raise very, very valid concerns.
But the liberals,when they speak you will have to keenly listen and to some extent even agree with them.That the world is very dynamic more so with technology.The world,they say is fast changing & so must Ruwe Holyghost Church, in the way we do our things, lest we find we cant even spread our doctrine/
From my desk, I know there are many Ruwe Holyghost Church members, starting with you the reader, the clergy, administration offices, the youth fraternity not forgetting women who are open minded and knowledgeable & can dissect these issues than I’ve done.The views I’ve expressed here are solely mine as an individual, don’t be mistaken.
To conclude, I strongly believe with a clear conscience, alert mind and a receptive heart that ROHO mar jo-Kodongo Mango is very unique and we can’t do a mistake of copy-pasting practices from other churches/
Born in Birmingham, England on 7th June 1878. The son of a British army warrant officer, the family soon settled in Belfast & Owen was educated in Ulster. In 1930 he joined Church Mission Society and went to their training in Islington, London. Ordained deacon in 1904, he sailed for Uganda where he was ordained priest in 1905. In 1907 Owen married Isabel Barnes, who died in England in 1910. In 1911 he married Lucy Olive Walton, a missionary colleague. Between 1904 and 1918 Owen worked in several parts of the British East African protectorate. In 1918 Owen was appointed Anglican archdeacon of Kavirondo (western Kenya) which was part of Uganda diocese with responsibility of organizing the new rapidly expanding church among the luo, luhya and the kalenjin peoples.
Kenya having been declared a British colony in 1920 , the boundary of Uganda diocese was redrawn in 1921, Kavirondo then become part of Mombasa diocese. It is at this point that Owen started becoming involved in politics of western Kenya in particular and Kenya as a whole.
When the colonial government in 1923 banned the native associations such as Y.K.A ( Young Kavirondo Association) the first independent political body established in luo land – Owen unsuccessfully prevailed on the Provincial commissioner not to do so but later organized, changed it’s name and registered K.T.A (Kavirondo Taxpayers Association) to teach Africans how to run their own affairs. Teaching how economic development actually takes place, he introduced ploughs, watermills, new crops and bookkeeping as the secret of planned development. Over the years he educated many luo and luhya civic and political leaders. From 1920s onwards he was outspoken in opposition to colonial legislation discriminating against Africans such as forced labour & hut tax.
Most scholars have argued that archdeacon Owen was somebody who was not afraid to stand up for Africans’ rights and justice specifically for his converts in western Kenya. Owen often went against colonialists, administrators and even against his fellow missionaries in the defense of the luo. Owen’s interactions with his superiors in the Kenyan colonial system therefore deemed hostile and offensive.
Infact, archdeacon Owen’s defense of the local people against the colonial system earned him the unpopular sobriquet “Archdeamon” among his contemporaries.
Critics, on the other hand have declared that Archdeacon Owen was “a colonial lap dog” who worked together with the colonial administration and an agent whose goal was not to defend local people, but to ensure the success of the colonial system. Critics also believe that Owen used “his position as a missionary and propagandist to force the administration back to its proper path of ensuring the success of its colonial venture”. He was a conceited green snake in a green grass who was not to be trusted and was only concerned with the success of colonial and capitalistic system in Africa. That Owen and other Europeans in Kisumu were expected to act as if they were in favour of the Africans. They were told to “listen to what Africans said” and help get rid of abuses in colonialism in order to convince Africans that the Europeans were on their side.
Nevertheless, while it is extremely hard to get an accurate image of Archdeacon Owen I think that there has to have been a reason for the local African people and the administration in Nyanza to build a monument on the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu in his homage. Archdeacon Owen could have been on the colonial side, the Africans side or both but his monument suggests that he was an important man in the history of the region.
But focusing my lenses on Owen in the context of RHG church’s history who actually was this man popularly known as’ achidikon Owen’?
While in Uganda where he worked for 14 years (1904-1918) until he was sent to Kavirondo in 1918 by Reverend Bishop John Jamieson Willis (popularly known as Rev. J.J Willis) of Uganda diocese, Owen had become fluent in Luganda ( Baganda language), after being transferred to Kavirondo, he had little trouble picking up the Luhanga ( the Wanga language). In a short period of time, Owen was able to speak directly with the Wanga people about their problems. Among the nilotic luo, however, Owen had to work through interpretors for at least several years.
How did Owen get to meet, engage, know and understand or misunderstand the man Alfayo Odongo Mango? We must then briefly pick from Rev. J.J Willis. J.J Willis was the first Anglican missionary sent by Church Missionary Society (C.M.S) to work among the Luos. In 1906 he founded the mission in Maseno where he was called back to Kampala as a Bishop in 1912. Its at this point that Archdeacon Walter Chadwick was sent to Kavirondo (1912) and he is in fact the one who from Entebbe arrived in Wanga country to open a mission among the Bantu Kavirondo ( abaluhya). According to Bethwell A. Ogot , Chadwick met Odongo Mango and was impressed by him but was troubled that the young Christian leader was not baptized and lacked formal schooling. He thus arranged for Mango together with 3 other luo converts from the area to attend CMS normal school at Maseno in 1913. But Ibrahim Owuor Mango (Mango’s son) maintained that his father first trained as a catechist (Japuonj Kanisa) at Butere in 1913 or 1914 before going to Maseno.
In 1918 Archdeacon Walter Chadwick was called to Uganda and came Archdeacon Walter Edwin Owen.
Alfayo Odongo Mango was well known to archdeacon Owen and in Mango’s capacity as an evangelist, he later openly challenged some of Owen’s decisions, such as the archdeacon’s attempt to make luhanga (the Wanga language) the official language of worship in butere pastorate. Despite their differences, in 1927 Owen appointed Mango to serve as a deacon over a number predominantly luo churches within Butere Pastorate; Musanda, Ruwe,and Mahondo in South Wanga: Madungu, Got Osimbo, Konjra and Ulwan in Buholo: Yiro Mudhiero in Maroma: Sidindi in South Ugenya & Murumba in Gem. In 1928 Mango was elected by Owen to study theology at St. Emmanuel’s Divinity school in Kisauni Frere Town ( currently Mombasa) where Mango moved to with his family for the duration of two years course.
However when Mango refused to desist from leading the Kager in their agitation over their lost lands , Owen’s dealings with his appointee became increasingly strained. Owen and his colleagues, Rev. AJ Leech at Butere and Canon Playdell (Bwana Orengo) at Ng’iya believed that Sylvano Nyamogo and Lawi Obonyo of Musanda were the initiators of of Roho movement and the ones responsible for introducing in Alego and other parts of central Kavirondo. Owen had noticed that Mango ignored his summons as he become involved in Lawi’s group and Mango even began baptizing people on his own. By 1933 Owen seems to have established a fixed dichotomy in his mind between those Christians ” loyal to us” and Mango’s Roho group, despite the fact that Mango and Lawi’s followers continued to consider themselves part of the Church Missionary Society ( CMS) for several more years. On 17/January/
Throughout his tenure in Nyanza, Owen had struggled to plant a church that could take deep indigenous root as the CMS had succeeded in Uganda. Thus Owen could not understand a movement in which poor Africans appeared to want emancipation from him. Infact, he explained the Roho movement as a cult and a collection of ignorant, uneducated folks who had fallen under the sway of two frauds (referring to Odongo Mango & Lawi Obonyo). On one hand he described Mango and Lawi as mad people who believe themselves as divinely inspired. On another hand he depicts them as shrewd, calculating individuals hiding their political agenda behind the veil of religion.
From about 1930 on, most archival sources and documents refer to Odongo Mango as Reverend or Pastor. Yet in a letter written in 1934, a month after Mango’s death, archdeacon Owen asserted that Mango was technically never more than a deacon, unable to preside at a communion.
I can’t write everything Archdeacon Owen did or noted in his various reports pertaining very many things that happened in the Roho movement later Ruwe Holyghost Church. But I will be picking those of much interest here, his role and perspective on the happenings of Musanda fire/ Musanda massacre.
Keep it here.
Logical wisdom has it that, the more you learn the more you realize that you don’t know much. In my resolve to dig & get as much accurate information as possible pertaining our esteemed RHG church of EA. I would like to set the record straight pertaining the mis-presented & misunderstood long narrative ” Ni Barnaba Walwoho wuod Atieno ne odagi kit pesa ma-a oko” ni ikelo e Roho ka kaka kony mar gero din. This narrative for as long as I can remember has been retold & to some extent has got a bearing in the poor state of funds drive for development of our church as an institution, talk of putting in place sustainable programs, development projects, building churches etc….To some extent “wan jochan” is the poor man’s mentality killing us from within.
But then what’s the straight record Omondi Kotieno & how reliable is your source, to consider your record to be straight in the first place? Must be your eager question. Here comes my reply now & in future articles.
After several unsuccessful attempts to identity the particular Wanga warriors responsible for the deaths of Alfayo Odongo Mango & his associates, officials concluded that collective punishment was the only viable option. Captain FD Hislop was the District Officer (D.O) of the North Kavirondo who conducted the investigation into the 1934 ” disturbances at Musanda” and compiled an extensive report. Acting on Hislop’s recommendations
DC Anderson held four Wanga mlangos (clans) responsible for the Musanda disturbances. Under the Collective Punishment Ordinance, the clans lead by headmen Ngamia, Natshisakha, Musakulu,& Shuundu were charged with making ” common cause against the members of six Kager individuals.
Wanga elders had an opportunity to answer these charges in a baraza held by D.O captain Hislop on 26/Feb/ 1934. The D.O nevertheless found the Wanga guilty & ruled that Ngamia’s mlango ( deemed primarily responsible) should assume 50% of the liability & members of other 3 clans should together assume the remaining 50%. D.C Anderson determined that the Kager victims kins should receive compensation of Kshs. 6,400/= ( 3,000/= for property loss and 3,400/= for loss loss of life). He recommended that the PC levy a fine of Kshs. 10/= on every adult male in Ngamia’s mlango & a fine of kshs. 5/= on household heads in the remaining 3 clans in order to meet the stipulated amount.
Colonial Governor Byrne ultimately imposed a fine of Kshs. 8,125/= of which 6,000/= was for the relatives of the Roho victims, 2,125/= to the North Kavirondo Local Native Council. Colonial documents record that relatives of the Roho victims refused to accept any blood money. DC Anderson opined that the Kager considered the kshs. 8,125/= fine ridiculous & insufficient punishment for the Wanga ( Anderson’s letter to the PC dated 16/April/