Every year , Christians all over the world gather at Namugongo Shrine to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs who were persecuted, burnt live and killed for thier faith.
However, this year there was limited access to the shrines because the government put restrictions on gatherings and the main celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic that hit the whole world.
Despite the country’s ongoing lockdown , Ugandans have celebrated the Uganda martyrs day in a unique way with each at the comfort of their homes. A few people were invited to attend the celebrations at the shrines. And today’s theme was; “Like the Uganda Martyrs with faith, hope and love we shall overcome”
At least 60 and 40 persons including officials from the government, religious and business entities were invited to represent the whole (Ugandan and International pilgrims) at this year’s Martyrs day celebrations at the Namugongo Catholic and Anglican Shrines respectively.
Rt.Rv. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga , the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese while preaching at Namugongo Catholic Shrine urged Christians to emulate the Uganda Martyrs who did not give up on their faith no matter the persecutions faced. He further asked Christians to pray and exhault to the Lord to end the pandemic.
On the other hand, the cancellations of Uganda Martyrs2020 celebrations both at the Catholic and Angelica shrines has left traders and vendors in tears, counting losses since they hoped to generate much money from the pilgrims whom they always supported with services such as restaurants, accommodations, religious tools and oortraits of the martyrs, soft drinks and bites like Pork.
Nalule Mary Vianney, a trade who has since 2010 been selling cold porriedge and other soft drinks to pilgrims at Namugongo said that they were turned down by the cancellations. She is however quick to accept that the move was a right one since the world is facing a health crisis,
Like Nalule, others claim they had invested in preparations for this day hence have counted loses.
It should be noted that at the beginning of last Month (May) thevUganda Episcopal Conference announced the postponement of this years pilgrimage due to the failure of the organizers to meet the preparations in time.
In a letter directed to all Episcopal Bishops, the UEC Chairman Bishop Anthony Zziwa, who doubles as the Bishop of Kiyinda Mityana Diocese stated that Bishop Servetus Jjumba of Masaka Diocese which was supposed to lead Eucharistic celebrations of the Uganda Martyrs this year was unable to prepare because of the government restrictions imposed on gatherings, movements caused by the impacts of COVID-19.
Bishop Jjumba further noted that another date would be scheduled within this year for martyrs day celebrations.
The Uganda Martyrs were persecuted between 31st January,1885 and 27thJan,1887 under the orders of Kabaka MwangaII, the King of Buganda.
These included 22 Catholics and 23 Anglican. There’s a belief that there were also Moslems but their particulars have up to now not been established. Ugandan martyrs were killed because of their Christianity conversion and faith which traditionally was against the Ganda culture.
Charles Karooli Lwanga, Andrea Kahwa (Kagwa) and Kizito~ the youngest of all, were the notable martyrs.
Uganda Martyrs were beatified in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and were canonized on 18th October,1964 by Pope Paul VI. Their feast day is 3rdJune.