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The man I knew

Remembering Rt. Rev. Dr. Livingstone M. Nkoyoyo

Kampala, Uganda | REV SAMUEL MURANGI | It was 1986. I had finished junior high school in Fort Portal, Uganda and moved to the Capital City Kampala, in search of an opportunity to pursue high school education. Mukono Diocese, which was only two years old at the time, under the leadership of the then Bishop Livingstone Nkoyoyo was working with a young man from England (Simeon Wiehler, now a professor at the University of Rwanda) to establish a home for street boys. By God’s grace, Simeon invited me to join him, to work as evening supervisor of the home in exchange for tuition.

Our first home was a guest house, (adjacent to his Grace’s Residence). He had built the house for missionaries. He allowed Simon and a group of us teenagers to live in the house for more than six months, as we built our own round- houses on a piece of land the diocese had donated to be used for orphanage.

Although I had been brought up as an Anglican, confirmed by an Anglican Bishop in Toro, living in close proximity to an Anglican Bishop was quite an experience. It was the first time of sharing meals and jokes with a bishop, riding in a bishop’s vehicle. Otherwise, it used to be the “Who” is “Who” who had access to a bishop!

In 1997, I came to the United States for further studies at Bryn Mawr College. Two years later, I heard his Grace was visiting the East Coast of the United States and decided to invite him to visit the church I had become affiliated with in Rosemont. Quite frankly, I never expected him to come. To my surprise, he did!

I will never forget when he decided to spend Easter holidays with me in Philadelphia. Which prominent person leaves his blood family and comfortable life in Uganda to spend Christmas with an ordinary clergy, bachelor at the time, in a small house in the United States? But His Grace did!

There was one additional concern of his, finding me a bride. That prayer was answered in 2010 when I called and told him and Mama Ruth that I had finally found my missing Rib. He asked, what is her name? I told him that her maiden name is Kasiimo, which means a gift. When he met her, he immediately agreed that indeed I had a found a wonderful a gift from God.

In January 2011, his grace travelled to fort Portal, spent four days with my family and officiated at our wedding ceremony and also played a double role, as my Dad. Call Fort Portal and ask anyone who attended the wedding, they will narrate his sermon, yet it was preached in Luganda; a language not well spoken among the Batoro.

In March of 2017, I flew to London to spend a week with him while he was receiving cancer treatment. In spite of all the pain and side efforts from chemo, seldom was the conversation about his sickness. Every moment, he talked about Namugongo Marty’s Shrine, the orphan project, or a need to build a Cathedral for Mukono Diocese.

 On Tuesday January 2, 2018, I called to wish him a Happy New Year, not knowing he was admitted at the hospital. After praying, the conversation turned to him asking about my wife and two daughters and the Namugongo Marty’s Shrine he has been building. Two days later, I woke to hundreds of WhatsApp messages announcing his death.

For me, my family and many others, he was more than an Archbishop, he was the man I knew who changed my life. I forever cherish the special one on one time I spent with his Grace, especially in Philadelphia, praying with him, reading scripture together and listening to his considerable wise council.

 I still hear his voice echoing, reminding me to be grateful to Jesus Christ for his Grace and Mercy and for his free gift of salvation. Through my interaction with him, I gained a deep understanding as well as appreciation for the true meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ and the heavy price Christ paid for my (our) sins.

 I am grateful to God for having given me an opportunity to interact with such a special man. I will forever remember him as friend, father and mentor.

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(The very Rev Samuel Murangi, MSS, MDiv Rector, Emmanuel Resurrection.)

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