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Annual Namugongo ”Martyrthon” After A Two Year Covid 19 Hiatus

Thousands of Pilgrims descended at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine on 3rd June after a two-year hiatus following the covid 19 pandemic when the government announced a two-year lock down to stem the spread of the disease in March of 2020. 

All religious activities including church services, mosques and other forms of worship in public were suspended in an unprecedented measure.   

In 2021, celebrations were celebrated virtually with only 200 pilgrims allowed to attend the celebrations at 23-acre shrines

Fort Portal diocese animated the catholic liturgy while at the Anglican site in Namugongo, Bishop  Stephen Kazimba led over 20 bishops and dignitaries in prayer.

 Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was represented by his Vice President, honorable Jessica Alupo at the Anglican Shrine, and the Rt honorable Prime Minister  Robinah Nabbanja at the Roman Catholic shrines respectively. The President implored Ugandans to uphold justice and live by the principles of their religions He condemned all forms of injustices in reference to the killing of the Uganda Martyrs by Kabaka   Mwanga.

” These young people and some aged Ugandans resisted the ignorance and corruption of Kabaka Mwanga, who was fighting new ideas about God. Once heads are cut, they don’t grow again”. 

He tweeted ” I also want to congratulate all the Balamazi (Pilgrims) who have trekked long and short distances for #MartyrsDay2022. I want to welcome the visitors to Uganda, among the pilgrims, who have come to enjoy the blessings of this day with us. I wish you a memorable stay in Uganda”.

Several Pilgrims from around the African region were in awe of  Namuongo. Monica Kampamba from Zambia has captured the sites along the trail and is soon to publish a book on the Uganda Martyrs to educate her fellow Zambians. Tanzanians keenly follow the date which falls after Julius Nyerere Day Tanzania’s first post-independence leader on June 2nd  who is on course to sainthood. 

In the weeks leading up to the annual celebrations, several Pilgrims took to the trail after walking over 300 km including hundred-year-old Bernaldo Tibyangye. One  Jackeline Alinaitwe, 49, was not so lucky as she collapsed and died on arrival at Namlguonlgo underlining the test of faith in modern-day martyrs in the footsteps of the 45 Christian converts who were sentenced to death between 1885 and 1887  on the orders of the reigning king of  Buganda kingdom for refusing to denounce their faith in preference for Christianity.    

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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