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Alexander Murdoch Mackay

1849-1890. Missionary to Uganda. Born in Aberdeenshire, he studied at the Free Church training college for teachers, and in 1873 went to Berlin to acquire qualifications with an engineering firm. In 1875, having read H.M. Stanley's book on David Livingstone,* he changed his original intention about working in Madagascar and applied to the Church Missionary Society for work in Uganda. He arrived in East Africa* and began work on making a road through to Lake Victoria Nyanza, 230 miles inland. It took two years. He arrived on the lake shortly after the murder of two CMS colleagues, and after all others had left because of ill-health. The boat, intended for the lake and brought up in sections, had suffered severe damage, but Mackay's engineering knowledge and resourcefulness resulted in its completion and made an enormous impression. While work was going on, Mackay resolved to visit Lkonge, whose warriors had murdered his colleagues, and he succeeded in reaching an agreement with him. The boat completed, the party set out for Entebbe, headquarters of King Mtesa. Mackay's skill with metal won him acceptance, and on Sundays he was free to read and expound the NT. Arab traders opposed him, and French Catholic priests introduced a divisive element. Mackay protested at appalling cruelties without entirely losing favor.

James Hannington* had been consecrated bishop and approached Uganda from the East. There was an old prophecy that the country would be conquered by invaders who came that way, and though Mackay assured the king no harm was intended, warriors were dispatched to kill the party. There followed a general persecution of Christians; the lives of the missionaries at court were saved by one of the ministers who interceded for them. Mackay finally withdrew to the south of the lake. There he taught and translated, and there he met Stanley. Mackay died from malaria, but not before he saw the first copies of Matthew's gospel printed.

See J.W. Harrison, A.M. Mackay, Pioneer Missionary of the C.M.S. in Uganda (1890).