This article examines the shifting interpretations of homosexuality in colonial and post-colonial contexts in east Africa. In 1886, Mwanga II, the king of the Baganda kingdom, executed forty-five male pages of his court. All forty-five were recent converts to Christianity and many accounts of the execution highlight the pages' refusal to submit to the king's sexual demands as the cause of their execution. Over the last one hundred and twenty-five years, the story of the martyrs has been used to support a broad spectrum of political, cultural, and religious claims. By examining the event in both historical and contemporary contexts, this paper identifies broader fault lines within those contexts in relation to Christianity, Islam, colonial power, and post-colonial politics in east Africa.
- Baganda martyrs