This clustering allowed Mwanga to effectively play these groups off one another. According to Twaddle the groupings of Muslims and Christian within these four chieftaincies led to an increase in insecurity within 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 various rights and privileges by Mwanga seemingly without end. Other Bugandans began moving into these three chieftaincies and brought their guns with them, a commodity that was quickly become more and more accessible. These three kingdoms became more and more powerful and gained substantial amounts of firepower. These chieftaincies, now powerful well-armed and given preferential treatment, became quite a powerful force. Furthermore, many of the people living in them and in many parts of Buganda had memories of severe persecution in the not so distant past. 

Among them were many Christians whose loyalty to the state had not always been of the first priority. Fearing a potential challenge to his reign, Mwanga demanded that Christians within Buganda apostatize or face the consequences. Many refused to do so. As a result, Mwanga did just what his father had done when his authority was challenged by Muslims, he launched a wave of persecution. In 1886 Mwanga gathered together around fifty Christians who were taken to Namugongo and executed, including many members of his own court. This would later prove to be a grave political mistake which would have far-reaching consequences for both Mwanga and the future of the Buganda Kingdom.

The first coup to shake the Buganda state occurred in 1888 after concerns by leading chiefs that they would be lead to their death should they embark on a planned raiding expedition. The instigators of this plot were the Muslim leaders Muguluma and Kapalaga, who did their best to rally Christian chiefs and clans to their banner. This task was not always easy as Catholic and Protestant missionaries were encouraging their converts not to participate in the revolution but instead to flee from Buganda. At the time of the revolution, there were many Christians within Buganda who favored this option. Without pressure from Muslim leaders it is doubtful whether Christian chiefs would have taken part in the coup at all (Twaddle 61). However, in the end, Christians agreed to take up arms and Mwanga was overthrown in a lighting-like coup that would usher in an era of quick royal succession and religious tension not previously seen in Buganda.

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Next on the Buganda throne would be Kiwewa, something of a Luke-warm Muslim. He like other Kabakas before him refused to be circumcised which did not exactly endear him to many Muslim members of his court, already upset that their victory had not given them a greater hold over the government. It did not take long for this alliance between Christians and Muslims to deteriorate. Many Christians among the Buganda court and elsewhere who had been practicing in secret amidst fears of renewed persecution now declared themselves openly. Muslims in Buganda began to worry that their own position may be threatened by this substantial increase in Christians. Muslim control over the Kabaka was not unassailable due to luke-warm Kiwewa, combined with a growing number of Christians the Muslim power dynamic, so short-lived, was now under threat. In the October of 1888, this growing rift between Muslims and Christians would explode once again into bloody civil strife and see Kiwewa wrenched from his still warming throne.

Various schools of thought, most of which are conjecture, attempt to explain what happened on that fateful day. Christian sources, mainly from missionaries in Buganda at the time, claim that Arabs began whispering in the ears of Muslims in the Kabaka encouraging them to attack Christians and remove them from positions of power. Wanting to reserve rule of Buganda to Muslims alone. Another explanation states that Muslims had requested that the position of palace cook be awarded to a Muslim so that he could properly prepare the food so as to be fit for Muslims consumption. This was originally agreed to, however, “a Christian chief Antoni Dungu, insisted on having the post of kauta (cook) and threatened to fight for it. While both sides were discussing his ultimatum, one of Dungu’s pages stabbed the Muslim chief Sirimani Lubanga to death” (Oded 16). However it began it was not a battle that the Christians were destined to win. In his Muslim Revolution in Buganda Twaddle explains what most probably happened according to an eyewitness. A Christian chief Nyonyintono overheard that he was to be replaced as the first minister by Muguluma. Rumors of Muslim soldiers forming around the capital also began to reach him just as two Muslim subordinates pointed their guns at him laughing, followed by a mock salute (Twaddle 65). Throughout the course of the day a fight broke out in court, which then turned into a Muslim Christian brawl. Several Christian chiefs not wanting a bloodbath fled the country. Christian missionaries on the advice of Arab traders in the country were put in prison and were later released and forced to leave along with other Buganda Christians who had initially stayed behind. 

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