Sserunkuuma abandons his desires for Christ
Sserunkuuma was the son of Pookino (the county chief of Buddu) named Namujulirwa of the Ndiga (sheep) clan. As a son of an important chief, Sserunkuuma was brought up in a loose way and grew up without a proper check to his manners. Thus as he grew up, Sserunkuuma was prone to copy bad behaviour that were abound in Pookino’s enclosure. He was cruel, stubborn, violent, over-beating, proud, loose living, imprudent and drunkard.
When he became a catholic, Sserunkuuma strove bravely to master his temper and to control his passions. As a result, he was found worthy of receiving the sacrament of Baptism.
On one occasion King Mwanga gave him two beautiful girls in appreciation for his good service at the palace. Sserunkuuma’s passions rose high, took the two girls home as his wives and one of them was soon expecting.
When his fellow catholics, Lwanga and Andrew Kaggwa in particular, learnt of it, they moved fast to help their friend out of that sinful situation of illegal marriage. Good enough, Sserunkuuma adhered to his friends’ good advice and went to Fr. Lourdel for confession. He made a sincere and determinant confession, so determined that Sserunkuuma left the two wives and all his property and went to live in seclusion at the other end of the palace with just minimum necessities of life. This is where he devoted himself to prayer, penance, and the teaching of religion and doing works of mercy. It was in this situation that the Christian persecution found him as one of the gatekeepers. This is where the Christian persecution found him and he bravely offered himself to die for Christ.
Bruno’s tortures and death
After reaching a consensus with his Chancellor and other chiefs to put to death all Christians, Mwanga gave orders for all the pages to be assembled and brought before him; com¬manded the attendance of Mukaajanga and his assistant execu¬tioners; and appointed Mbugano as royal legate, with powers to seize and plunder Christians in the villages away from Munyonyo.
When the pages entered the Kabaka’s own courtyard, they found him seated just inside his house, which had a wide open doorway, and with him the Princess Nassiwa, his eldest sister, and two young pages of the Cane-Rat clan.
When the last of the pages had greeted him, Mwanga asked, ‘Are they all here?’ Being assured that none was missing, he ordered the gates to be closed and then, pointing towards the reed fence to his left, said, ‘Now, let everyone who follows the religion of the white men go over there. Bruno had not been summoned to the Kabaka’s presence, but was probably on duty at one of the gates to the courtyard, when he decided to join his fellow Christians in their public profession of faith, thus re-enacting a scene, so common in the days of the early Roman persecutions, when guards or jailors would publicly proclaim themselves Christ¬ians and range themselves alongside their prisoners, to share their fate.
Lutaaya, the Muslim Chamberlain, who had been present, asked for the favour he had come to obtain, namely, for Bruno Serunkuuma to be handed over to him so that he could satisfy an old grudge. His request was granted, and he had Bruno taken to his own quarters and flogged.
The old score which Lutaaya attempted to settle in this way seems to have been in connection with Bruno’s sister. Bruno, while yet a pagan, had given his sister in marriage to Lutaaya.
The woman had since left her husband. This may have been the sole reason for Lutaaya’s resentment or, possibly, Bruno had also refused to return the dowry.
If the Muslim hoped to make his victim cry out for mercy, he obtained little satisfaction. The soldier bore his flogging stoically and, poking fun at the Kiganda belief in Walumbe, the god of death, said to his tormenter, ‘Why not take us away and kill us? Why the delay? We are going to die as proxy for you. Who knows? Perchance, when we have paid for you your tribute to Walumbe, you might escape death altogether.’
After his flogging, Bruno Serunkuuma was returned into the custody of the chief executioner, Mukaajanga, where he was soon joined by the soldier-bandsman, James Buuzabalyawo.
The Protestant, Nakabandwa, asked, ‘Why kill us here?’ and Bruno Serunkuuma at once interjected, ‘Why not? Let them kill us here! These ropes are very painful!’ Mukaajanga’s reply to this was to order his men to roll the prisoners in the muddy pools left by the morning’s rain, thus contracting the ropes and adding to their sufferings.
Already, on the march from Munyonyo to Mmengo, Bruno Serunkuuma had given proof that he was of the material of which martyrs are made. He had been cruelly beaten, had spent the heat of the afternoon shut up in the hut of one of the executioners, had witnessed the butchering of Pontian Ngondwe and, in considerable agony from the tightness of the cords that bound him, had walked for two hours on the road from Munyonyo to Mmengo.
When the party of which he formed part came abreast of the house of a relative of his, named Bbosa, Bruno paused and called out loudly, ‘Bbosa, Bbosa Bring me some plantain-wine,’ Bbosa poured some wine into a bowl and brought it to the spot where Bruno was waiting, guarded by an executioner. Bruno then said to him, ‘You see, Bbosa, that they are taking us off to execution; but we are going (to Heaven) to keep places for you.
A well which has many sources never runs dry. When we are gone, others will come after us.’ Bbosa said, ‘Here is the plantain-wine for which you asked’. Then Bruno looked his relative in the face, fixed his eyes on him for a moment, and then refused the wine. Turning to the executioner, he said, ‘Let us go on.
Bruno moved with fellow Christians up to Namugongo where they were tied in reeds and burnt alive until God separated their souls from their tortured bodies.
Bruno died on 3rd June 1886.
Before martyrs were burnt, Bruno Serunkuuma, addressing three other Christians who were pardoned, said, “Children, I am very sorry for you. I am very much afraid that the Kabaka and his creatures will try again to make you renounce Jesus. It would have been better for us all to die, and so reach Heaven together.’