Uganda Martyrs' Shrine, Namugongo
NOE MAWAGGALI
Uganda Martyrs' Shrine, Namugongo

Mawaggali’s parentage and conversion to Catholicism
Mawaggali evangelizes in difficulty
Noe’s last moments
Noe’s tells his sister 'Never to abandon Christ'
Noe Mawaggali’s sister follows her brother determination

Mawaggali’s parentage and conversion to Catholicism
Noe Mawaggali was a son of Musaazi and a member of the Bush-Buck (Ngabi) Clan. He was a native of Ssingo County, having been born at Nkazibaku about 1850. Mawaggali was an expert potter, turning out all manner of articles such as earthenware dishes, water-pots, cooking-pots, jugs, bowls and pipes. He became by appointment potter to the county chief, who greatly admired his work, and lived for a time in the chief’s household. Later, he built a simple house for himself on the land of Matthias Kalemba Mulumba, a move that seems to have been prompted partly by friendship for the Mulumba and largely by the desire to remove himself from the pagan atmosphere of the chiefs court, because it was about the same time that the zeal and example of Matthias won him over to the Catholic Faith. He was not, however, baptized until the Feast of All Saints, 1885.
As well as making pots, Mawaggali used to tan hides and, unlike his fellows, who spent most of their time visiting and taking part in the interminable beer-parties, was known as a steady and industrious worker, quiet and unassuming in manner. He was tall and slender, with a head that narrowed towards the crown. He never married and was scrupulously correct in his moral behaviour.
After the death of his father, Mawaggali took his ageing mother and his young sister to live with him and provided for them. His mother Meeme was later baptized, taking the name Valeria. His sister Munaku, about eighteen years his junior, suffered cruelly and heroically in the persecution and was later, after her freedom had been purchased by the missionaries, baptized Maria Mathilda. She lived to the age of seventy-six, devoted to prayer and good works, and is the source of much of the information about her brother.

Mawaggali evangelizes in difficulty
The Mityana Christian group, Luke Banabakintu and Noa Mawaggali in particular, used to walk from Mityana to Nalukolongo every week, a distance of 42 miles or 64 kilometers, for Sunday masses and Sunday sermons. Either Baanabakintu or Mawaggali had to set off on this tedious and difficult journey on Friday and spend the night at Nswanjere. He would arrive at Kampala (Mmengo) on Saturday evening, spending the night at Mulumba's official residence near the palace. He had to attend the Sunday Mass and endeavour to commit the sermon to memory and then after Mass he would start off for Mityana spending the night at the Nswanjere Christian station where he had spent the night on his way to Mmengo.
The journey was not easy, the traveler had to go through thick and extensive forests and jungles to cross River Mayanja twice, wade through deep, and strong and wide currents in some places. That was not all, he would on a number of occasions encounter wild animals, highway robbers, dangerous snakes etc.

Noe’s last moments
After King Mwanga had condemned Christians to death, and many of them had been arrested at Munyonyo, various raiding groups were sent all other Christian centres to seize all followers of Christ they find there. Mawaggali was at Mityana Christian centre where Mathias Mulumba had left him with their catechumens.
It was still early in the morning and Noe Mawaggali was inside Baanabakintu's house, giving final instruction to the two catechumens who were going to the capital and discussing with them the news of the arrest of Matthias and Luke. Suddenly, the raiding party under Mbugano closed in on the house, shouting as they did so that they were looking for Christians. Noe, walking-stick in hand, came out from the house to meet the raiders, saying, 'Here we are!' and, incidentally, giving his companions an opportunity, of which they availed themselves, to escape through the back of the house.
'Is that you, Mawaggali?' called out one of the raiders.
'Yes, it is I,’ replied the potter, at the same time drawing over his head the bark-cloth he was wearing, so that he might not see the death-stroke that he was expecting. It came from the spear of Kamanyi, the chief’s drummer, acting as legate, who well knew Mawaggali to be one of the leading Christians. Levelling his spear, Kamanyi plunged it into the martyr's back, and Noe fell to the ground grievously wounded. At this, one of Mbugano's followers, attempting to outvie his companions in cruelty, proposed: 'Now that this Christian can no longer defend himself, let us feed him to the dogs.'
This horrible suggestion was adopted. The wounded martyr was lashed to a tree, and the dogs of the village set upon him, further wounds being first inflicted upon his defenceless body so that the animals might become maddened by the scent of blood.
Archbishop Streicher mentions reports to the effect that Mawa¬ggali's agony lasted until evening. Throughout the day, until con¬sciousness mercifully left him, he could feel the savage dogs leaping at him and tearing at his flesh, which they devoured before his eyes. At nightfall, his mangled remains were untied from the tree and thrown on to the main road, to serve as a warning to other Christians, and to those with leanings towards that religion.
The brutal treatment of Noe Mawaggali seems to have shocked one at least of his executioners, men hardened to cruelty.
Noe's sister Munaku, from her place of concealment, overheard one of them addressing his companions: 'What men these Christians are!' he exclaimed. 'How obstinate in their religion and how hardened to pain! This Mawaggali now, we gave him what he deserved, but, all the same, it was cruel to feed him to the dogs.'
Then Munaku, with her mother a captive and her brother dead, decided to give herself up. She emerged hastily from her place of concealment and ran after the murderers of her brother, crying out, 'I am Mawaggali's sister. You have killed my brother:
Kill me too!' The men, taken aback, looked at her in astonish¬ment. 'My brother has died for his religion,' insisted the girl, 'I wish to die also. Plunge your spears into me!' 'You are mad!' answered the men, ignoring the girl's plea and continuing on their way.
Munaku refused to be put off. She followed the men to the square before the county headquarters, where she found some thirty Christ¬ians in bonds, including her own mother, Meeme, the widow and daughter of Matthias Kalemba, the boy, Arsenius or Anselm and a boy who lodged with this family. Mbugano, the legate, seeing in this comely young girl of eighteen an unexpected windfall, decided to take her as part of his share of the spoils and had her tied up with the others.
During the evening, the boy who had been captured in the Mulumba's house, and also Meeme, the mother of Noe and Munaku, managed to free themselves from their bonds and escape. When Mbugano and his captives finally left Mityana, their route led them past the spot where Noe Mawaggali's body had been thrown, but hyenas had completed the work begun by the dogs, and very few traces of the body remained on the road.

Noe’s tells his sister 'Never to abandon Christ'
On Sunday 30 May, when rumours of the outbreak of persecution were circulating in Mityana, Noe took me aside after the instruction. When we were alone, he said, 'Munaku, I see that you are a good girl; you keep the commandments of God; you are industrious and neat at your work and you pray well; but you have yet to learn what the priests made very clear to us on the eve of our baptism. To be a Christian implies a readiness to follow Our Lord to Calvary and even, if need be, to a painful death. As for myself, I am convinced that there is a life after death, and I am not afraid of losing this one; but what about you? Are you determined to remain loyal to the Faith?' 'Certainly, I am,' I replied. 'Very well then,' he continued, 'when we have been killed, never cease to be a good Christian and to love the Christians who will come after us.' He said this to strengthen me in the faith, because I was not yet baptized.
When Noe left me, he said that he was going to Kiwanga, Luke Baanabakintu's place, to appoint a man to go to the capital. The Christians of Ssingo were accustomed to send one of their members every week to the mission at the capital to attend the priest's explanation of the catechism, so that he could repeat what he had learnt to his fellow-Christians at home. On this occasion, the man was also to bring back tidings of Matthias and Luke.
Next morning, Monday 31 May, after saying our morning prayers, my mother and I went to cultivate our plot, and Noe went across the swamp to Kiwanga, about a mile away, to see the man who was to leave that morning for the capital.
We were working in the bananary when we heard the approach of the raiders who had come from the capital to arrest us and loot our property. They entered the house of Matthias not far from that of Noe, and seized his wife, Kikuvwa, his two children, Arsenius aged ten and Julia aged two or three, and a boy who only slept there. When my mother and I heard them coming, we ran into the elephant-grass that surrounded the bananary and tried to hide. However, they overtook my mother and arrested her. Then they went on to the house of Luke Baanabakintu.
I did not see with my own eyes the manner of my brother's death, but, from my place of concealment in the elephant-grass, I overheard some of the villagers, who had accompanied the raiders, discussing the details as they walked along the nearby path.
Munaku indeed kept the promise as she fought had to keep her virtue of chastity up to the age of 76 when she breathed her last.

Noe’s last message to his sister
On Sunday 30 May, when rumours of the outbreak of persecution were circulating in Mityana, Noe took me aside after the instruction. When we were alone, he said, 'Munaku, I see that you are a good girl; you keep the commandments of God; you are industrious and neat at your work and you pray well; but you have yet to learn what the priests made very clear to us on the eve of our baptism. To be a Christian implies a readiness to follow Our Lord to Calvary and even, if need be, to a painful death. As for myself, I am convinced that there is a life after death, and I am not afraid of losing this one; but what about you? Are you determined to remain loyal to the Faith?' 'Certainly, I am,' I replied. 'Very well then,' he continued, 'when we have been killed, never cease to be a good Christian and to love the Christians who will come after us.' He said this to strengthen me in the faith, because I was not yet baptized.
Munaku indeed kept the promise as she fought had to keep her virtue of chastity up to the age of 76 when she breathed her last.

Noe Mawaggali’s sister follows her brother determination
When Mbugano and his captives finally left Mityana, their route led them past the spot where Noe Mawaggali's body had been thrown, but hyenas had completed the work begun by the dogs, and very few traces of the body remained on the road.
Munaku had confided to the Mulumba's widow Kikuvwa, her intention of forcing the soldiers to kill her when they reached this spot, by refusing to go any further. The older woman managed to dissuade her young companion from this course of action and offered her some wise and timely advice. She explained that although martyrdom was a noble and glorious death, God did not desire his followers to seek it for themselves. She also warned the girl that the greatest danger to which her captors were likely to expose her was not to her life, but to her chastity and to her soul. Munaku pondered over this warning. She had already promised her brother that she would not, after his death, endanger her new-found faith by going to live with their pagan relatives. She therefore decided that she would renounce these entirely and begged the older woman not to reveal to anyone who they were.
What Kikuvwa had foretold soon came to pass. Mbugano de¬clared his intention of taking Munaku as one of his wives and began to question her about her male relatives, so that he might learn which was entitled to receive the bride-price. The girl asserted that, since her father was dead and he had killed her brother, she had no male relatives. She also refused to reveal the name of her clan, de¬claring that her status was now that of a slave. As for becoming his wife, she would rather die. Greatly offended by this rejection, Mbugano determined to break the spirit of this courageous girl.
On reaching the capital, Mbugano went to report to the Chan¬cellor the success of his mission.
The boy Arsenius escaped and took refuge at the Catholic mission, and Mawaggali's sister, Munaku, was taken by Mbugano to his home in Kyaggwe County, where heavy stocks were fastened to both her feet. For a full month he tried every means to bend her to his will. After a few days in the stocks, all the skin had gone from the girl's ankles and raw wounds encircled her legs. Mbugano's other women, moved with pity, wished to pack the apertures of the stocks with soft fibres to lessen the friction, but their master would not allow it. 'Her feet will be cared for,' he said, 'and even freed entirely, when she has come to her senses.' He resorted also to daily beatings and threats to sell her to the Arab slave-traders but nothing he could do was able to break down her resistance.
Finally, baffled by Munaku's constancy, Mbugano decided to cut his losses. Professing pity and admiration for his victim, he offered Pere Lourdel the chance to redeem her. The priest was de¬lighted and a bargain was struck. That same night, July 1886, in exchange for a gun and some ammunition, Mbugano handed the girl over to the care of the mission.
Pere Lourdel decided that the heroic profession of faith made by this young catechumen merited her exemption from the customary four years' period of probation before baptism. She was therefore given an intensive course of instruction and some weeks later, on 22 August, baptized and given the name Maria-Mathilda. She became a religious (Sister)

If you have any comments about this site, please contact us Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Namugongo, Kampala Archdiocese, Uganda