The Uganda Martyrs are a group of 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda, who were executed between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887.
They were killed on orders of Mwanga II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda.
In 1886 Mwanga ordered the executions of a number of his pages.
Encouraged by his prime minister, on 29 October 1885 he had the incoming Anglican bishop James Hannington assassinated on the eastern border of his kingdom.
This is often taken to be the thoughtless action of a 19-year-old king, but, according to Ward, can also be interpreted as justifiable action intended to ward off any invasion.
The German annexation of what is now Tanzania sparked further alarm.
A year after becoming king he ordered the execution of Yusufu Rugarama, Makko Kakumba, and Nuwa/Noah Serwanga, who had converted to Christianity.
This effectively led to a three-way religious struggle for political influence at the Buganda royal court.By the mid-1880s, many had been converted by each of the three groups, and some of the converts held important posts at the king's court. He was concerned at the growing influence of Christianity and the rise of a new class of officials, distinct from the traditional territorial chiefs, who were educated, had a religious orientation, and wished to reform Ganda society.A group of French Catholic White Fathers appeared two years later.This was followed by a Zanzibar-based Arab attempt to introduce Islam.
The deaths took place at a time when there was a three-way religious struggle for political influence at the Buganda royal court.
The episode also occurred against the backdrop of the "Scramble for Africa" - the invasion, occupation, division, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers.