UGANDA: PILGRIMS TO TRACE THE LAST FOOTMARKS OF SAINT JANANI LUWUM, 41 YEARS AFTER HIS MURDER

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Online image of St. Janani Luwum in his hey days

Ugandans, with effect from January 2020, will begin to track on foot and trace the last footmarks of the late St. Janani Luwum from Kampala, where he was murdered by Uganda Dictator, Idi Amin Dada on February 16, 1977 to where he was finally laid to rest. The journey will start at former Nile Mansion (now renamed Serena Conference Center) in Kampala up to Mucwini Wii Gweng in Kitgum district in a pilgrimage that will cover over 500 kilometers and lasting over one month for the annual of his martyrdom, February 16, 2020.

GULU-UGNADA:  Former Uganda’s Ambassador to the United Nation (UN), Dr. Olara Otunnu, has unveiled plans by Christians in central Uganda to trace the last footmarks of the late Saint Janani Luwum, the third Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire who was murdered by Ugandan tyrant at that time,  President Idi Amin on February 16, 1977.

On Sunday October 20, 2019, Dr. Olara Otunnu addressed the congregation at Christ Church in Gulu, northern Uganda, and says the program to celebrate the martyrdom of St. Janani Luwum has already been taken over by the Church of Uganda from The Diocese of Kitgum which has been the lead Diocese organizing it.

“I would like to announce to you the program for the start of the pilgrimage for celebration of the life of St. Janani Luwum by Christians from Kampala. It will begin in January 2020 and will follow the last footmarks of Luwum, from the time he was summoned to appear at Nile Mansion by President Idi Amin up to the time he was murdered. The program will begin from former Nile Mansion in Kampala, up to Nakasero State Research Bureau where he was allegedly shot dead in the mouth by Idi Amin himself”, Dr. Olara Otunnu told congregation at Christ Church.

The journey to trace last footmarks of the fallen national hero, St Janani Luwum, will begin at his former residence at Namirembe, the official residence of Archbishops of the Church of Uganda, then move to Nile Mansion up to Nakasero former State Research Bureau, where is he was taken in the night of Feb 16, 1977 before he was slain From Nakasero, pilgrims will move from Kampala to Bombo road, through which his body was moved by soldiers to Madi Opei barracks where it spent the night before bringing it to Wii Gweng in  Mucwini sub-county in Kitgum district where he was interned at the local church cemetery three days later.

Dr. Otunnu asked the Christians in Northern Uganda who are interested to join in the foot pilgrims from Kampala to register with Christ Church and the Diocese of Kitgum.

“I am pleased to inform you that Mr. Alex Bwangamio Okello, the Permanent Secretary from President Office, who is one of the organizers from Kampala is here with us. He will assist the movement of the pilgrimage.” Dr. Olara Otunnu reiterates.

Dr. Olara Otunnu argued pilgrims from Kampala to register with Namirembe Arch-Diocese, since St Janani Luwum foot tracking will begin from Kampala. Those who are interested will join the team of pilgrims from Kampala at Namirembe and thereafter, the pilgrims will move as one body, on foot, through Bombo, Luwero, Nakasongola, Kiryadongo, Karuma, Kamdini, up to Gulu City, where they will make a stopover. The pilgrims are expected to reach Wii Gweng, where his remains lay on February 15, 2020 through Kitgum town, ready for the main celebrations the following day.

The body of St. Janani Luwum was placed in a sealed coffin and the soldiers, who took the body to Mucwini, did not want his relatives to open the coffin to see the body and examine it. However, the villagers opened the coffin the following day when the soldiers had left and discovered the body had bullet holes.

St. Janani Luwum’s Memorial has always been conducted across the world every February 16. When his murder was announced that he died in a motor accident, about 4500 Faithful gathered for a memorial service beside the grave that had been prepared for him next to that of the martyred bishop Hannington. In Nairobi, the capital of nearby country Kenya, about 10,000 gathered for another memorial service.

Saint Janani Loum was murdered at the time in history when persecutions of Christians nearly ended in Africa, but was renewed by the Military Dictator President Idi Amin Dada during his eight year brutal rule characterized by killings, disappearances and kidnaps. International observers estimate that between 100000 to 500000 people perished under his rule.

The first victim of prosecutions against Christians was Bishop James Hannington, the first Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Province. He was among the early martyrs in Uganda who was killed on orders by King Mwanga of Buganda Kingdom on 29th June 1886.

Bishop Hannington approached Buganda Kingdom from east, but unfortunately unknown to him, there was a belief in Buganda that their enemies would approach the Kingdom from the east.

On June 3, 1886, King Mwanga ordered the killing of 26 Christians at Namugongo. The site is where Uganda Marty’s shrines has been built and is attracting hundreds of thousands of pilgrims yearly.

Their persecutions were at open and they would walk to meet their deaths as they continued singing Christian hymns which inspired bystanders who later became converts.

The Martyrdom had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly entirely African but not a Whiteman’s religion.

Uganda has set every June, 3 June, as an annual event in celebrations of the life of the early martyrs of Namugongo.

In 2005, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had declared every February 16 a public Holiday in commemoration of the life of Saint Janani Loum.

Another historic event in the calendar of Christianity in the sub region, are the martyrdom of the two catholic catechists, Daudi Okello and Jildo Irwa, which is celebrated annually on October 20, at Wii polo in Agago District.

 

 

  

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