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Jonathon L. Earle and J. J. Carney

Contesting Catholics: Benedicto Kiwanuka and the Birth of Postcolonial Uganda

Assassinated by Idi Amin and a democratic ally of J.F. Kennedy during the Cold War, Benedicto Kiwanuka was Uganda’s most controversial and disruptive politician, and his legacy is still divisive. On the eve of independence, he led the Democratic Party (DP), a national movement of predominantly Catholic activists, to end political inequalities and religious discrimination. Along the way, he became Uganda’s first prime minister and first Ugandan chief justice. Earle and Carney show how Kiwanuka and Catholic activists struggled to create an inclusive vision of the state, a vision that resulted in relentless intimidation and extra-judicial killings. Focusing closely on the competing Catholic projects that circulated throughout Uganda, Contesting Catholics: Benedicto Kiwanuka and the Birth of Postcolonial Uganda (Boydell & Brewer, 2021) offers new ways of thinking about the history of democratic thought, while pushing the study of Catholicism in Africa outside of the church and beyond the gaze of missionaries. Drawing on never before seen sources from Kiwanuka’s personal papers, the authors upend many of the assumptions that have framed Uganda’s political and religious history for over sixty years, as well as repositioning Uganda’s politics within the global arena.

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