Faith of Unity
Faith of Unity
Itambiro ly’Omukama Ruhanga Owamahe Goona Ery’Obumu (Runyoro for "Association for the Healing Place of God of All Armies"), abaikiriza, obumu, "Holy Quaternity Movement"
Desteo Bisaka (a.k.a. "Omukama Ruhanga Owobusobozi Bisaka"—Owobusobozi is Runyoro for “Almighty one”) (1930-2021); his names and title are rendered in various ways, such as "Dosteo," "Bishaka," and "Owobushobozi"; also informally as "O.R.O.B." for short
Omukwenda Alinaitwe (per Sunday Vision newspaper, January 31, 2021)
Western Uganda (February 1980)
Kapyemi, Muhorro Town Council, Kagadi District, Uganda
Owobusobozi Bisaka Itambiro Modern Secondary School
The Book of God of the Age of Oneness—We Are One in the Lord God of Hosts—Disunity Has Ended (English version—1987)
Bisaka claimed to be almighty God in the flesh, and his "Book of God" teaches that he is, in effect the third person in a kind of non-Christian Trinity. Although Bisaka was once an influential lay Catholic leader, FoU is harsh in its condemnation of Christianity. Bisaka has been inconsistent in his comments about Jesus, making statements like “Jesus was a white man and a liar as well,” and “Jesus never existed.” The movement’s guiding principle is unity, whereas the Bible is said to be a "myth" and “a source of disunity.” Bisaka’s "Book of God" claims that “the evil spirits…caused their words to be written in [the Bible], which words cause [the Bible] to bring conflicts among people.” Hence, “In order to unite people into one flock under one shepherd, the Lord God of Hosts will first do away with the Bible, and then give them His new words which they will use in the Third Age” (p20). On at least one occasion Bisaka encouraged his followers to collect and burn Bibles. FoU rejects a variety of practices that it condemns as harmful foreign influences. Monogamy is rejected as reflecting western values rooted in Christianity, while polygamy is both accepted and encouraged; in fact, Bisaka has taught that men may have as many wives as they can support. The FoU actively combats witchcraft and cannibalism, with Bisaka portrayed as having extraordinary power to disarm evil spirits and heal the afflictions they bring.
A February 1, 2021 news report in the online Kampala Post states that "Following his death, the current leadership of the Unity faith says their founder Owobusobozi Bisaka will not be buried. Instead, his body will be treated and then kept in a special house in the compound in Kagadi, for future viewing. The revelation came during a special prayer session to pay tribute to the late Bisaka." According to the February 2, 2021 issue of Bukedde (in Luganda), "There has arisen a serious disagreement in the family of the late Bisaka, arising from the sharing of his property. Bisaka left behind property worth billions and billions of [shillings], including a school and land titles." The cult was banned by the Ugandan government from 1988 to 1995, after which it developed unusually close relations with President Museveni. In September of 2019, Bisaka’s son Biijabyonka Bisaka died, reportedly causing at least 780 FoU members to defect. (In November of 2009, 821 FoU followers publicly rejected the cult in favor of Anglicanism.) In November of 2020, a group of Bisaka’s followers "stormed [the] Semwema cultural site [belonging to the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom] and destroyed cultural artifacts that have been preserved for years."
At least one report has claimed that there are 3,000 congregations in Uganda alone.
According to a July 2014 claim in the Daily Monitor newspaper (Uganda), "Faith of Unity has a 5 million strong following with over 1000 places of worship in Uganda, Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda." A June 2014 report in the same newspaper states that “It has 1,239 branches spread across Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania, according to Owobusobozi.” One religion scholar estimates FoU followers at between 5 and 7 million.
Burundi, Canada, Congo (Democratic Republic), Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda
Runyoro, English, Luganda
Fulgencio Kayiso. The Origin and Impact of the Faith of Unity on People in Kibaale District (Centre for African Christian Studies - 2007)
Heike Behrend. Resurrecting Cannibals: The Catholic Church - Witch-hunts - and the Production of Pagans in Western Uganda (Boydell and Brewer Ltd - 2011)
Asonzeh Ukah. “Healing Humankind and Ritual Entrepreneurialism: The Faith of Unity Religion in Uganda" in Law
Religion and Human Flourishing in Africa. M. Christian Green - ed. (AFRICAN SUN MeDIA - 2019)