By Aloysious Kasoma
Why Stanley Ntagali was picked as Orombi’s successor
On January 7, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, the Anglican Church head in Uganda, told the House of Bishops that he wanted the election of his successor to take place in June 2012 – more than a year before his term officially ends in December 2014.
No sooner was the announcement made than speculation began over who would succeed him. There is an unwritten tradition in the Church of Uganda that the position must rotate among the various regions of the country. Over the last 40 years, the Church has seen archbishops from all the regions. Silvanus Wani (1977 – 1983) was from northern region, Yona Okoth (1983 – 1995) was from eastern, Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo (1995 – 2004) was from the central region, while Henry Luke Orombi (2004 – 2012) was from West Nile.
It was therefore unsurprising that Orombi’s successor would come from western Uganda. In the elections at Namirembe on June 22, two Banyoro – Stanley Ntagali of Masindi Kitara Diocese and Nathan Kyamanywa of Bunyoro Kitara – were the strongest contenders. Ntagali emerged as winner, because he was seen to be ‘more western’. Unlike Kyamanywa, who is a pure Munyoro, Ntagali is a Mukiga, who was born in Kabale but grew up and has lived almost all his adult life in Bunyoro. At the announcement of his successor, Orombi described Ntagali as “unique” – being the first bishop he consecrated. Ntagali also had the edge because he was formerly a provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda. As Bishop of Masindi Kitara, which Orombi described as the “United Nations of Uganda” due to its diverse tribal mix, Ntagali is said to speak several local languages.
“The first phase of our prayer is answered,” Orombi said a visibly relieved Orombi, adding that the 8th Archbishop would mark “a new chapter.”
Orombi re-assured his successor-to be that “the temperature in the Province is good and nice. The conflicts have been pushed aside, we are united and together.”
“Because of these good signs what else do you expect but better days and better times for God to be honoured in this country,” he said. Taking over from a strong and charismatic leader whose tenure has been marked by diverse achievements, Ntagali has his work cut out and large boots to fill. The Church is in the middle of several multi-million dollar infrastructure projects, several missions, administrative reforms and social campaigns. Luckily for him, he will build on the firm foundation his predecessors have laid over the years. Unlike Orombi – whom he refers to humbly as “His Grace” – Ntagali is a man of few words, but reportedly much action. At his announcement as Archbishop-elect, he said he was “humbled” but described himself merely as “a leader of a team in which everyone is a member.Bishop Patrick Gidudu of Mbale Diocese described Ntagali as a “seasoned leader” who would bring all Christians together. “He will continue where Orombi has stopped, he has special gifts such as team spirit, good leadership skills and developmental ideas,” he said.
Having served as provincial secretary for two years, Ntagali is very conversant with the goings-on in the corridors and high offices of the Church of Uganda and beyond. He has served as Chair of the Church House board, one of the church’s biggest development projects. He led the committee that designed guidelines for retiring Bishops. Also, he won’t be unfamiliar with the international scene as he has on several occasions represented the Archbishop at international meetings and forums. Between now and Ntagali’s inauguration on December 16, Orombi will continue as the Archbishop and Bishop of Kampala Diocese, as he bids farewell to each of the church’s 34 Dioceses. Ntagali will also tour Masindi Kitara to bid farewell prepare the ground for the election of his own successor, before he takes on the mantle of Bishop of Kampala Diocese.
Ntagali takes the helm at a challenging time for religious leaders in Uganda. Poverty is biting their flock hard and mushrooming Pentecostal churches are enticing parishioners with promises of earthly fortunes. President Yoweri Museveni and his government will be watching to see if he joins hands with the Catholic Bishop Cyprian Lwanga, and Zac Niringiye, the Assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese, who have been at the forefront of calling for political reforms, especially a reintroduction of presidential term limits and a peaceful hand-over of power in 2016, when they argue that President Museveni must exit. Also, it remains to be seen if he will take on Orombi’s fiery armor in the fight against homosexuality, whose growing acceptance in the church in Europe and America has caused a rift with the African churches.
Ntagali at a glance:
Born in Ndorwa County in Kabale District in 1955, Ntagali’s family moved to Hoima when he was 16. In 1974, aged 19, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. He worked as a teacher in Wambabya Primary School, and later spent two years as a missionary in Karamoja Diocese. Later, he studied Theology at Bishop Tucker Theological College, Mukono; St. Paul’s Theological College, Limuru, Kenya; and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies in the UK. He served in various capacities in Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese until 2002, when he was appointed Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda. He was the first bishop Orombi consecrated, on December 19, 2004, just a year after his own consecration.
The previous Archbishops:
- Leslie Brown (1961-1966)
- Erica Sabiti (1966 – 1974)
- Janani Luwum (1974 – 1977)
- Silvanus Wani (1977 – 1983)
- Yona Okoth (1983 – 1995)
- Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo (1995 – 2004)
- Henry Luke Orombi (2004 – 2012)
- Stanley Ntagali – Archbishop Elect