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Rev. Canon Christine Shimanya: The priest of parliament

Kampala, Uganda | AGNES NANTABA | For the last 15 years, Rev. Canon Christine Shimanya, has been one of the top female clergy in the history of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Aside from being the chaplain of the Parliament of Uganda, Shimanya is the coordinator for prayer and intercession in the Province of the Church of Uganda.

“The Lord has also sent me with Prophetic messages to other nations,” she says, “So I can serve anywhere because of the prayer ministry.

“Even in other dioceses, I regulate prayers; so I have a very busy schedule but God has been graceful and I am generally a multitasking person who wants to do so many things at the same time.”

Her turning point was when she was selected as one of the 20 women from Africa to be volunteers with the UN in the refugee settlements of Kenya.

At the end, they were required to do a project on reproductive health in their home countries and Shimanya is the only one who wrote a project. Her two works; titled the ‘Wash the body campaign’ and an ‘English literacy project’ among Somali women, were so good they were televised on BBC. The project was copied in Zambia and Egypt.

In Uganda, the programme went on for 15 years and transformed into many other projects including the campaign on girl child education and supporting HIV/AIDS people in homes. It also expanded from Adjumani, to Yumbe, Gulu, Lira and Pader.

Meanwhile, she had also done several theology courses at Kyambogo. Even while working among the refugees, she directed every activity towards church and became a lay reader.

Rev. Shimanya worked as a lay leader for 15 years in Arua-Madi West Nile diocese from where she was ordained a priest in recognition of her efforts, such as fundraising to build a church. She was ever on the move, including in refugee camps and settlement areas until she asked and was transferred to Kampala to balance family life with her teenage children. Her first posting in Kampala diocese was at St. Peter’s Church Wandegeya, then Church of the Resurrection Bugolobi, and recently Parliament.

Shimanya says she was born a priest since her childhood revolved around the church.

“I was a news reporter in the church who could report children who missed Sunday services, those conversing in church, plus those who told lies,” she says.

Her parents, Lay Canon Margaret Mary Atia and Elijah Atia a former head teacher, were leaders in the church. She says they were tough love parents and disciplinarians to the extent that her father never sat or walked without a stick. He was always on the lookout for anyone misbehaving or idle.

She was born in Teso-Kapirinkumi village in a large family of 11 children. She is the third born. Her father was the head teacher at her first school and mother was a support staff; tailoring and crafting items for the girls. She transferred to Pioneer; an Indian School, in P.4, and joined St Catherine’s Boroboro School. Incidentally, that is where she met her husband. But she insists: “We were only in the same choir and just friends since he was ahead of me by one class.”

She took a teacher training course, upgraded at ITEC Kyambogo and was posted to Shimoni Teachers College in Kampala. She later joined Kampala City Council, in the Inspectorate department between 1990 and 1995.

She has been married to Lt. Col. Michael Shimanya for over 30 years. “I do not see a military man but a husband and a friend,” she says. They have two children.

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