Festo Kivengere (1919–1988) was a Ugandan Anglican leader sometimes referred to as “the Billy Graham of Africa”. He played a huge role in a Christian Revival in Southwestern Uganda, but had to flee in 1973 to neighbouring Kenya in fear for his life after speaking out against Idi Amin‘s tyrannical behaviour.
Kivengere had been made Bishop of Kigezi and was among several bishops summoned to Amin’s quarters. Angry mobs called for their deaths. Eventually, all were permitted to leave but one, the Archbishop, Janani Luwum. The others waited for Luwum to join them but he never came out. The next day the government announced that Luwum had died in an automobile accident.
Urged to flee by friends who said, “One dead bishop is enough,” he and his wife that night drove as far as their vehicle could take them and with the help of local church people in the hills they walked until the next morning brought them to safety across the border in Rwanda.
He later authored the book I Love Idi Amin to emphasize the qualities of forgiveness for those who wronged you and love of those who persecute you. Kivengere stated, “On the cross, Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do.’ As evil as Idi Amin is, how can I do less toward him?”
Bishop Festo was invited by Michael Cassidy to join African Enterprise in 1969 and to build up a team of AE evangelists in East Africa. He returned to Uganda after Amin’s downfall to continue an active ministry until his death by leukemia in 1988.
Kivengere was known as a great storyteller and often thrilled his own and other’s children with his storytelling skills. A favourite story of his: “One day a little girl sat watching her mother working in the kitchen. She asked her mummy, ‘What does God do all day long?’ For a while the mother was stumped, but then she said, “Darling, I’ll tell you what God does all day long. He spends his whole day mending broken things.”