The Wizard
of the Great Lake

Alexander MacKay (1849-1890) was a pioneer missionary to Uganda. He was the son of a Free Church of Scotland minister who had been encouraged to follow his father into the ministry. Instead MacKay was educataed as an engineer in Edinburg and Berlin.

It was in 1876 that he along with others, responded to the call of the Church Missionary Society to go to the Kingdom of Buganda where its King (Mutesa) had expressed interest in receiving Christian Missionaries.

After a few years, he was the only one to survive. The situation was difficult and there was a convergence of Protestant, Catholic, Arab, and Western thought. MacKay was able to build good relations. MacKay stood in opposition to Catholic missions, and sought British intervention.

He translated the Gospel according to Matthew into the Luganda language. He used his engineering skills to help build roads, boats, and houses.

After the death of King Mutesa in 1884 and the martyrdom of Christians (both Protestant and Catholic) in 1886, he moved to the south of Lake Victoria where he remained the rest of his life. He was a man of great spiritual understanding and practical skills.

Mackay is pronounced MacKie.


  • Alexander MacKay, The Christian Hero Who Changed The Face of Uganda, by J. J. Ellis, Pikcering & Inglis, Lodon, (no date)
  • The Wizard of the Great Lake, by D. McFarlan, Christian Literature Crusade.
  • Uganda's White Man of Work, A Story of Alexander M. MacKay, by Sophia Lyon Fahs, Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, New York, 1907.

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