Thursday, February 9, 2012
TWO DECADES AGO, THE THEN ARCHBISHOP OF UGANDA, CARDINAL WAMALA SURVIVED DEATH AFTER THE KIDNAP!
Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala
As an Old Boy of St. Mary’s College Kisubi, I find it of absolute importance to celebrate 2 decades gone since the then Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Uganda, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala survived the deadly kidnap of Monday, February 3, 1992. Archbishop Wamala’s kidnap ordeal is of great significance to St. Mary’s College Kisubi as the Archdiocese of Kampala owns the school and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was then Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala. Reflecting on the school’s history, one of the salient developments is the “Archbishop Wamala kidnap ordeal.” It is important because the owner of the school was the victim, and that the ordeal took place in the Archbishop’s office which is one of the two existing blocks at Rubaga that are part of St. Mary’s School Rubaga Campus, prior to the transfer to Kisubi in 1924.
It can be recalled that on Monday, February 3, 1992 a man who identified himself as Bingo was among the visitors of the day. After introducing himself to the Archbishop at 11.00am, the 21hour saga began.
The Office where the ArchBishop was kidnapped is a former St. Mary's School Building
Bingo ordered the Archbishop to ring President Museveni and to act fast so as to save his life. The phones were not working, the Archbishop instead wrote a note to the President, which was taken to Entebbe State House by Father Joseph Kakooza (now Auxiliary Bishop), with the instructions that he be fast such that by 2.30pm, if his demands were not met then, Bingo would take action on Wamala. This happened after the Archbishop had seen the two bombs, which Bingo pulled out of his bag and hence announced that he was holding the Arch Bishop hostage.
According to Father Nkeera, the conditions, which Bingo set for releasing, the Archbishop were: Production of the Manager of Florian Bar 1989; Nakivubo Place, the Cashier there and a man who allegedly had been with the Cashier the previous night. Bingo also wanted the President to get rid of corrupt Permanent Secretaries as one of the conditions to save the prelate. Bingo further explained that he wanted the three Florian Bar Staff in connection with spreading the AIDS virus to his wife. Bingo consistently spoke against people who commit adultery but are left to go free. He wanted to take action against such people.
Bingo lost the deal when he went to the toilet to ease himself and the Archbishop got opportunity to run out of the office. It all ended with a huge bomb blast at around 10.30am on Tuesday when he killed himself in the bath/toilet room.
While the Archbishop was under predicament, he wrote the following: “I have gone over the files upon which I have been working. If I spent two more days here, my work will be finished. I pity you my friends, I know you are very anxious about me but are powerless to do anything. Sister Mugagga has been greatly frightened. I have sent her away lest she gets a heart attack. I want you to be as firm as I am. We used to hear about such events in Italy, Germany, South America and elsewhere; now we also have become as cruel as they are. They killed such men as Hon Moro, Archbishop Romero, and many others, and for some after keeping them in captivity for days or weeks. Their people had a hard time to find their bodies.”
“I myself will sing like Holy Martyr Karoli Lwanga saying, “I stop here (though I have not been walking) let them kill me here.” You may fail to see my body. I think that these explosives can completely turn it into ashes, which you will collect and bury after one day where you may wish. Should my body still remain, also bury it after one day. There is no reason why you would wait any longer.”
The above words of the Archbishop are similar to the final will. They show the determination of a person who has faith in God and they are also similar to his apostolic motto: In you I have placed my hope.