As both Christianity andIslam gained a larger foothold they began to congregate into the fourchieftaincies led by Muslims and Christians respectively.
The Muslims lived inKapalaga and Katege and the Christians were concentrated in Nyonyintono andKagwa (Twaddle 58). This clustering allowed Mwanga to effectively play thesegroups off one another. According to Twaddle the groupings of Muslims andChristian within these four chieftaincies led to an increase in insecuritywithin the Buganda kingdom which in turn introduced an “unpredictable element”into the Bugandan political scene under the reign of Mwanga (Twaddle 58).Within Buganda, there arose four favored chieftaincies: those of Ekisalosalo, Eggwanika,Ekiwuliriza, and Ekijasi (Twaddle 57). These chieftaincies were given variousrights and privileges by Mwanga seemingly without end.
Other Bugandans beganmoving into these three chieftaincies and brought their guns with them, acommodity that was quickly become more and more accessible. These threekingdoms became more and more powerful and gained substantial amounts of firepower.These chieftaincies, now powerful well-armed and given preferential treatment, becamequite a powerful force. Furthermore, many of the people living in them and inmany parts of Buganda had memories of severe persecution in the not so distantpast. Amongthem were many Christians whose loyalty to the state had not always been of thefirst priority. Fearing a potential challenge to his reign, Mwanga demandedthat Christians within Buganda apostatize or face the consequences.
Manyrefused to do so. As a result, Mwanga did just what his father had done whenhis authority was challenged by Muslims, he launched a wave of persecution. In1886 Mwanga gathered together around fifty Christians who were taken toNamugongo and executed, including many members of his own court. This wouldlater prove to be a grave political mistake which would have far-reachingconsequences for both Mwanga and the future of the Buganda Kingdom. Thefirst coup to shake the Buganda state occurred in 1888 after concerns byleading chiefs that they would be lead to their death should they embark on aplanned raiding expedition. The instigators of this plot were the Muslimleaders Muguluma and Kapalaga, who did their best to rally Christian chiefs andclans to their banner. This task was not always easy as Catholic and Protestantmissionaries were encouraging their converts not to participate in therevolution but instead to flee from Buganda. At the time of the revolution,there were many Christians within Buganda who favored this option.
Withoutpressure from Muslim leaders it is doubtful whether Christian chiefs would havetaken part in the coup at all (Twaddle 61). However, in the end, Christiansagreed to take up arms and Mwanga was overthrown in a lighting-likecoup that would usher in an era of quick royal succession and religious tensionnot previously seen in Buganda. Nexton the Buganda throne would be Kiwewa, something of a Luke-warm Muslim. He likeother Kabakas before him refused to be circumcised which did not exactly endearhim to many Muslim members of his court, already upset that their victory hadnot given them a greater hold over the government. It did not take long forthis alliance between Christians and Muslims to deteriorate.
Many Christiansamong the Buganda court and elsewhere who had been practicing in secret amidstfears of renewed persecution now declared themselves openly. Muslims in Bugandabegan to worry that their own position may be threatened by this substantialincrease in Christians. Muslim control over the Kabaka was not unassailable dueto luke-warm Kiwewa, combined with a growing number of Christians the Muslimpower dynamic, so short-lived, was now under threat. In the October of 1888,this growing rift between Muslims and Christians would explode once again intobloody civil strife and see Kiwewa wrenched from his still warming throne.