Distinguished Churchmen and Phases of Church Work/Alfred Robert Tucker

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The Right Rev. Alfred Robert Tucker, D.D.


“A motley group were gathered round,
    Men, women, young and old;
Wandering they heard Salvation's sound,
    And watched that preacher bold:
A Gospel pioneer was he,
    Who taught the truth that makes men free.”

Rev. Samuel Barber

Message to the British People—History of East African Exploration—Painter relinquishes Art to adorn the Church—At Oxford with Sir Arthur Hardinge and Lord Curzon of Kedleston—Mr Fox of C.M.S. infuses Missionary Zeal—Mr Tucker becomes Third Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa—His Appeal saves Uganda to England—In Bishop Hannington's Train—Recovers Hannington's Bones and accords them Christian Burial—Story of Hannington's Murder—Sub-division of the Diocese—Goes to Uganda—Combating Slave-Trade—Growth of the Church—Missionary Spirit of the Bagandas.

Have you a message for the British people, my lord?”

A few moments of serious reflection, and the Bishop answered, “Well, what one would say is needed most for the redemption of Africa is that 152 DISTINGUISHED CHURCHMEN

there should be more thorough sympathy on the part of the British public with those who give their lives to the evangelisation of that continent, and with their efforts to raise the native people in the scale of humanity. Not only sympathy, but actual support, is required that men should not be so niggardly in their gifts, that they should not be so sparing in their efforts, and that, although we may make mistakes from time to time in our methods, we should be given credit for having but one desire and one hope that Africa, which has so long suffered from what someone has called the * open sore that is, slavery should be rescued, and the whole country won over to Christ." A message such as that cannot fail to carry weight.

By way of introducing the reader to the remark able work of evangelisation which has gone on in East Africa, one cannot do better than quote its history in summary from the last annual report of the C.M.S. respecting Africa and the East : " The first impetus to the exploration of Africa from the East Coast was given by the C.M.S. missionaries, Kraffand Rebmann. In November 1875, m con- sequence of information sent home by the traveller Stanley of the readiness of Mtesa, King of Uganda, to receive Christian teachers, and of two anonymous donations of .5000 each being offered in order that a missionary expedition might be sent to his dominions, the Society resolved, in depend ence upon God, to organise a mission in Uganda,


and a well-equipped party proceeded accordingly to East Africa in the spring of 1876. The first leader, Lieutenant G. Shergold Smith, R.N., and Mr T. O Neill were killed ; and later several others, including Bishop Parker in 1888, died before reach ing the country. The mission, however, maintained its position in Uganda from July 1877, an( ^ this notwithstanding tremendous difficulties. A French Roman Catholic Mission arrived in 1879. King Mtesa, who died in 1884, was succeeded by Mwanga, and the new King was led, in 1885, to regard the missionaries with suspicion. He caused Bishop Hannington, while in Busoga, en route for Uganda from the coast, to be murdered on October 3 1 of that year. The storm reached its climax in the arrest of many native Christians, several of whom were tortured and burned to death. In August 1888, King Mwanga was driven from the throne. In October, through the hostility of the Mohammedan Arabs, the English and French missionaries were expelled from the country, and a period of revolution and bloodshed ensued. In October 1889, exactly a year from the missionaries expulsion, Mwanga re-entered Uganda and regained his throne through the help of his Christian subjects, and the missionaries returned with him. In the same year King Mwanga accepted a British flag from the representatives of the Imperial British East Africa Company. Sir Gerald Portal reached Uganda, as Queen s Commissioner, in March 1893,


and in April 1894 the British Government declared Uganda a British protectorate. In the summer of 1897 Mwanga fled from the capital, and his infant son Chwa, baptised by the name of David, was pro claimed King. In September of the same year a serious mutiny of the Soudanese troops broke out. Several European officers were seized and mur dered, and one of the missionaries, Mr G. L. Pilkington, who, in response to the appeal of the authorities, was accompanying the Government forces as interpreter, lost his life. The country of Busoga first had a resident missionary in 1891 ; Toro was occupied in 1896, and Bunyoro in 1899. In 1897 tne Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa was sub-divided, the Uganda protectorate being formed into the Diocese of Uganda, which Bishop Tucker elected to retain, relinquishing the remainder to form the Diocese of Mombasa."

As the direct successor of Bishop Parker, the subject of this chapter has bravely carried forward the noble work inaugurated in Eastern Equatorial Africa by his other predecessor, the martyred Bishop Hannington, and because of this and his recent achievements at Uganda, as first Bishop of that Diocese, he has been much before the public eye often with anxious concern during the past twelve years. He was born in 1849, the son of Edward Tucker of Myln Close, Windermere, and although his birth actually took place at Woolwich, much of his early time was spent in the Lake


District. Of his subsequent life his lordship has said, " I was an artist for nearly fifteen years, being en gaged a good part of the time in Christian work. My first picture was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1874. I got to see gradually that I must either do one thing or the other give myself entirely to my painting, and cut myself off from other interests, or else give myself absolutely to Christian work. And so I made the choice of the latter, and went to Oxford (Christ Church)." It was there young Tucker took his B.A. degree in 1882, proceeding to his M.A. three years afterwards, and he was fortunate in that he numbered among his contemporaries at the University, Arthur Hardinge, whom he was destined to meet later in life as Sir Arthur Hardinge, Commissioner of East Africa, and a young fellow named Curzon, whom the world has since known as Mr George Nathaniel Curzon, Lord Salisbury s Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and as Lord Curzon of Kedleston, Viceroy and Governor-General of India.

Ordained in 1882, Mr Tucker s first curacy was with the Rev. E. P. Hathaway, at St Andrews-the- Less, Clifton, and it was about this time that he married Hannah Josephine, daughter of Mr W. F. Sim, of Southport. From Clifton in 1885 on Mr Hathaway s resignation of the living he migrated to Durham, to be Curate of St Nicholas , under the Rev. Henry Elliott Fox, M.A., now the Hon. Secretary of the C.M.S. Of Mr Fox, the

�� � Bishop of Uganda has stated, " I cannot sufficiently tax my memory to say how the missionary idea took root in my mind. I know it gradually grew ; and I think the close association with Mr Fox, whose connections were all missionary, brought things to a point." After five years with Mr Fox, Mr Tucker was raised to the Episcopal bench with special authority to supervise Christian work in Eastern Equatorial Africa or Mombasa, and he made his first journey to the interior with Douglas Hooper s party, reaching Uganda late in 1890.

After a twelve months sojourn there, the Bishop returned to England to report on the prospects of his new Diocese. The eloquent story he then told and the earnest appeal he put forward bore remarkable fruit. At the C.M.S. Gleaners Union anniversary, in Exeter Hall, ^8000 were subscribed on the spot to help the British East Africa Company to hold Uganda for twelve months, and a further

8ooo were contributed within a fortnight. The

C.M.S. readily acknowledge that that collection undoubtedly saved Uganda to England, and the acknowledgment, by-the-bye, is no slight testimony to the service rendered by Bishop Tucker to his country. One of the first facts which Bishop Tucker drove home after his visit to his Diocese was that Eastern Equatorial Africa was beyond the proper supervision of one Bishop. This likewise bore fruit in time. The Diocese was sub-divided, and the Bishop, who in the meantime had received


the degree of D.D. from the University of Durham, was thenceforward to be identified with the new Diocese of Uganda. Here his lordship s efforts to bring about the entire suppression of the slave-trade have been the admiration of all who intelligently follow the story of the Church abroad.

��Bishop Tucker happened to be home on furlough during last autumn, and accorded an interview.

"On reaching Eastern Equatorial Africa, you must have found many interesting traces of your predecessors ? " the author asked, in opening the interview.

" Yes ; one learnt a great deal that was most interesting," was the reply ; and then, after a pause, the Bishop proceeded : " Indeed, nearly everything one heard about the two previous Bishops was interesting, about Bishop Hannington especially. 1 felt, in 1892, when I travelled up from the coast to Uganda by the same route as Bishop Hannington it is now very much the line of the railway what a brave undertaking it was to venture through that altogether unknown country. It also showed Hannington s foresight and gave one an idea how he was able to grasp the situation and see so clearly what really was the route to Uganda."

" You speak, parenthetically, of the railway How did you traverse that route ? "

" I traversed it on foot entirely. Yes, on that


same journey I discovered the bones of Bishop Hannington in the village of Kavirondo. When death overtook him, Bishop Hannington was, of course, on his way to Uganda, and had arrived at Lubas, where he was detained. Word was sent by the Chief, Lubas, of the Basoga tribe, to Mwanga, the King of Uganda, that a European was in his hands, and inquiring what he was to do with him. The order went back, Kill him/ and straightway Bishop Hannington and forty of his men were speared to death. It is a noteworthy fact that we have now a mission station almost upon the very spot where Hannington was murdered, and it is still more interesting to record that that same Chief, Lubas, is at the present time under Christian in struction there. Well, to proceed with the story. After a great deal of trouble we got the spot pointed out where poor Hannington s remains were interred, and then we only heard in secret. There was much fear on the part of the Chief as to what we were likely to do. He thought he might be accused of some complicity in the murder, and for some time denied that the bones were anywhere near in fact, that he knew anything about them. It eventually transpired that the bones were deposited almost a hundred miles away from the spot where Bishop Hannington was murdered. On their exhumation, our party carried the remains on to Uganda, where, on New Year s day in 1893, I accorded them Christian burial outside our Cathedral Church."


About Bishop Parker, the second Prelate of Eastern Equatorial Africa, there was less to record, for he, unfortunately, died after a few months work at the south end of the Victoria Nyanza, only a fortnight after he had buried one of his fellow- workers, named Blackburn. He, however, proved himself to be a wise administrator of his Diocese and a gentle-hearted man ; but, physically, he could not have been strong. Alexander Mackay, an enthusiastic lay-worker, followed Bishop Parker to the grave a couple of years later. Bishop Tucker speaks in high praise of Mackay. "He was one of the founders of the mission in Uganda the man to whom the mission owes a vast deal. Mackay was one of the most remarkable mission aries of the last century."

" Did you find the natives very ready to receive Christianity ? "

"In Mombasa, which was my headquarters when I first went to East Africa, we experienced a great deal of opposition from the Mohammedans. One of the most effectual means of reaching them was through the medical mission, which was planted down in Mombasa, and has done good work. The whole population has been more or less leavened with Christian thought ; but very few baptisms among the Mohammedans have yet taken place. On the mainland, however, considerable results have been attained."

" Now, as to the Diocese of Eastern Equatorial


Africa, your early experiences led you to make a representation for a sub-division of the Diocese to whom was that representation made ? "

" Yes ; the work grew so enormously, in Uganda especially, that it became utterly im possible for any one man to supervise it. In the first instance, I made the representation to the C.M.S., which agreed to provide a stipend for a new Bishop. With the consent of the Foreign Office, and on the nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Mr Peel, the Secretary of the C.M.S. at Bombay, was in 1899 consecrated first Bishop of Mombasa."

"And that represents the date of your trans lation to Uganda ? "

" Yes ; when the Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa was divided, my work lay in the new Diocese of Uganda, to which I was translated. It it well to remember that it was the enormous extension of the work on the northern shores of the Victoria Nyanza which compelled this division of the former Diocese."

" Are you confronted with the liquor traffic at Uganda ? "

"No; most happily. Since Great Britain and the Great Powers put their signatures to the Brussels Act, we can never have in Uganda that same terrible state of things which exists now along the West Coast. All spirituous liquors are for ever forbidden in those regions under that Act


a most unmitigated mercy," the Bishop added, with emphasis.

" Your lordship is an abstainer of long stand ing ? Presumably you find it expedient to put temperance in the forefront of your programme of work ? "

The Bishop smiled in acknowledgment of his adherence to the temperance cause. " Most of our missionaries are total abstainers, and we do make it a permanent feature of our teaching among the natives. Of course, the natives have their own drinks. There is a kind of beer made from the juice of bananas, which is intoxicating. That, let me add, is not touched by the Brussels Act. It is a great temptation to the natives, and one about which we warn them, both by our example and our teaching."

"It occurs to one that, what the public would most like to hear about is your lordship s efforts to combat the slave-trade."

The Bishop thought for a moment. "Well, in the old days, before Christianity became a power in the country, Uganda was one of the great centres of slave-raiding and slave-trading. Mackay, in some of his earliest letters, tells us how Mtesa, the King of Uganda in those days, used to maintain an army of 10,000 men, whose sole work was raiding for slaves. The Arabs would come up from Zanzibar into Uganda, bringing with them guns and ammunition and cloth. Then, in order


to acquire these much-desired articles, Mtesa would set his men to work raiding for slaves, who, when brought in, would be exchanged to the Arabs for guns, powder, gun-caps and calico. A woman, I believe, could usually be purchased for a gun, a child for a 100 gun-caps, and a man, on whom a higher value was set, for sometimes two guns. Of course, the ruin wrought was not simply con fined to the slaves carried to the coast. There were also thousands who died on the road, and who were destroyed in the actual capture of these slaves. Kaberegga, the King of Bunyoro, was also very busily engaged in this traffic. The slaves were drawn largely from the Busoga, Bunyoro, Nkole and Madhi tribes."

"How did the work of resisting the slave-trade commence ? "

"Well, the influence of our mission gradually led to an improvement in this terrible state of things, until at last the Mohammedan element the Arab element having risen in rebellion against the King of Uganda, was driven out and destroyed, and the Christian power became paramount. In those days the British Govern ment had not made its appearance at all, nor any European Power. Mackay wrote probably about 1879. Things slowly became better until, in 1893, the whole question was decided by the great chiefs of Uganda on Christian lines, and on the last day of March 1893 a document was


sent to me signed by forty of the great chiefs of Uganda, declaring their wish and intention to abolish slavery altogether as a domestic institu tion. Slave-trading and slave-raiding had already been made illegal by a treaty entered into between Uganda and the British East Africa Company."

" Then what is the position now with regard to slave-trading?"

" Slave -trading is contraband. It is quite contrary to both British and native law. The status of a slave is not recognised now either in a British or native Court in Uganda. One might add that at the present time the only blot on the good fame of East Africa in this respect is the maintenance of the status of slavery by Great Britain in the coast districts of the East African Protectorate."

" But some slave-trading still seems to be going on. Who are the offenders ? "

"The chief offenders are those living in the out-of-the-way parts of the country, who have not yet been touched by the progressive spirit which has taken possession of other districts and who have not yet come under any sort of authority. The Arab dhows, and some concerned in the trade between Zanzibar and the Persian Gulf, are guilty of a good deal of contraband trade of this kind. Captures are made from time to time, but the slave-trading still goes on. And so it will, more or less, until the status of slavery is absolutely


abolished in the coast districts. I know that important representations and appeals have been made in Parliament by Sir John Kennaway, M.P., the Chairman of the C.M.S."

"What do you understand to have happened to the captured slaves ? Are they put to com mercial uses ? "

"The slave in the coast district who engages himself as a porter, for instance, is bound to hand over to his master his earnings, or a certain large proportion of them. Some masters, I under stand, claim the whole."

" Can you recall any notable examples of the gratitude displayed by recovered slaves?"

"You may have heard that some twenty-five years ago we planted a settlement for freed slaves at a place now called Freretown, near Mombasa, on the coast, and from time to time we used to receive 100, 150 or 200 slaves rescued by H.M. cruisers. These have been sheltered and their children educated. From that settlement the freed slaves and their children have gone forth to self-respecting positions in civil life, such as telegraph operators, interpreters and clerks. Their affection for the old place at Freretown is often manifested in very gratifying ways. They are sometimes away for years, but they generally manage to find their way back as to a place they love."

"Yes; the work in Uganda has been most


encouraging," the Bishop observed, in reply to another interrogation. " It is, I think, one of the most remarkable fields of missionary work in the whole world. When I went out there eleven years ago there were about 200 baptised Christians ; I left them the other day in number over 30,000. Ten years ago we had but one church in Uganda ; now we have about 700. At that same period we had about twenty natives engaged in work as native teachers and evangelists ; we have now got 2000. In addition to that we have a native ministry of some 2000 evangelists and teachers. Twenty-seven natives have been ordained. Perhaps the most remark able feature connected with the operations is that the whole of this work the payment of these native evangelists and these native clergy is maintained entirely by the Native Church ; by the contributions of the people, that is. They build their churches, repair them and maintain their schools, so that the whole work of the Church pastoral, educational and missionary is financed entirely from native sources. We have altogether about sixty British missionaries, three of whom are medical missionaries. There are two or three nurses. There is also at Uganda a French Roman Catholic Mission, which followed us."

" Do the British Protestant missionaries work harmoniously with the French Roman Catholics ? "


The Bishop smiled enigmatically, as if re collecting something not particularly gratifying. " Well," he said, " I am sorry to say we do not. The fact of the matter is that, shortly after these French Roman Catholic missionaries came into the country, it became quite clear that their objects were political as well as religious ; and they sought to extend French influence. Cer tainly their efforts have been consistently directed against the interests of Great Britain. I have no hesitation in saying that the lamentable conflict in 1892 in the early part of January 1892 was largely due to the influence of these French Roman Catholic missionaries."

" You said that you had to do the journey from the coast to Uganda on foot. Your work must call for a lot of endurance ? "

" Yes ; I reckon that altogether, since I went out to East Africa, I have tramped from 15,000 to 16,000 miles about my Diocese. That, you may be sure, has led me into a variety of coun tries healthy and unhealthy. I have crossed Lake Victoria Nyanza half a dozen times, gener ally in native canoes, which in itself is a difficult matter, the lake being almost 200 miles from one shore to the other. The first time I crossed the Victoria Nyanza, I recollect that it took me thirty-two days. One can do it sometimes, under favourable circumstances, in about a fortnight by canoe. Things, however, are becoming different.


The railway from Mombasa to the south-east shore of the Victoria Nyanza is nearly completed, and will be an immense boon to us. When I first went to Uganda it took me five months to get there from the coast. When I came down this last time, I did the journey in ten days, travelling, of course, by the railway mainly, and having to walk only for five days."

" By way of translation much has been done to place in the hands of the native people the same books as we have ourselves for Christian study ? "

" Very remarkable work has been done in that way. The whole Bible, for instance, has been translated into the language of Uganda, which is called Loganda. That was mainly the achieve ment of George Pilkington, who was shot by the Soudanese mountaineers three years ago. The Prayer-Book has also been translated, likewise the Pilgrims Progress, the Life of Mohammed, and Oxford Helps to the Study of the Bible. We have paid, and are paying, considerable attention to technical and industrial training in Uganda. There are now four printing presses at work, turn ing out works in no fewer than four different lan guages. Blacksmithing, carpentering, brick-making and rope-making are among the trades which are being taught the natives.

Questioned as to the prospect of British lay missionaries being ordained out in his Diocese, the


Bishop observed, "It all depends upon what sort of work the man does, and is able to do. If he earns for himself a good degree by his work in the mission-field, and I have reason to believe he has been called of God to higher office, there is no reason, to my mind, if he passes my examination, which is similar to that of the Bishop of London, why he should not be ordained. In fact, I have ordained several."

" What do you regard as the most encouraging phase of your work out in Uganda ? "

" I think one of the most striking features of the work is the missionary spirit of the Bagandas the people of Uganda. The place itself is being evangelised by them ; and the countries beyond, such, for example, as Bunyoro, Busoga, Bukedi and Toro. These are all being evangelised by native missionaries trained by us. The King of Bunyoro is a Christian ; so also is the King of Toro, and we are even now coming in contact with the tribes of the Upper Nile Valley. What I feel about the work is, that we have a singular opportunity, in the present advanced condition of things in Uganda, for the evangelisation of the whole of Central Africa. It is a position of great strategic importance ; the climate is healthy- Europeans can live there in tolerable comfort ; there is the missionary spirit of the Bagandas, their peculiar aptitude for teaching, and their very enterprising spirit. All these, I think, properly


lead one to conclude that, under wise direction there is no reason why from Uganda Christian teaching may not go forth, reaching even the tribes of the Central and Eastern Soudan, and leading, indeed, to the whole of Central Africa being Christianised and uplifted. That is my hope, and really my expectation."

Before closing the interview, Bishop Tucker spoke cheerfully of his return to Uganda in the spring. That he still uses the brush which he, professionally speaking, laid down to prepare him self for the noble work he is to-day successfully carrying on, was manifested in several clever paintings which graced the walls of his lordship s study, illustrating East African fruit growing, and the partial construction of a Cathedral out there. The Bishop admitted that painting was among his very few recreations, and was rather amused at the suggestion that walking was another, though sometimes of very inordinate length, and under taken perforce of circumstances.

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