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Church of Uganda Will Hold Restricted Martyrs Day Celebrations

Church of Uganda Will Hold Restricted Martyrs Day Celebrations

By Godfrey Olukya
VOL African Correspondent
May 30, 2021

Unlike the past when thousands of Anglicans made a pilgrimage to the Namugogo Shrine where 23 martyrs were killed on 3rd June 1885, this year only 200 people will attend the ceremony.

Namugongo is the village where the then king of Buganda killed 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans who had just been converted from their traditional beliefs to new religions taken there by missionaries from Europe.

The king of Buganda at that time, Kabaka Mwanga accused the mostly youthful Christian converts for diverting their royalty from him to Christianity. He ordered his guards to take them to Namugongo and kill them by cutting them to pieces using machetes and spearing them. They reportedly died while singing hymns

The Anglicans were killed at one spot and the Catholics from another area. In the 1970's both churches started holding annual ceremonies at the spots where the martyrs were killed. Later they constructed shrines at the places where martyrs were slaughtered.

Over the past four years, before COVID-19 hit, over 1 million believers converged on both shrines on June 3 to remember the killing of the martyrs and to pray to almighty God. Some pilgrims, including those from neighboring countries, walked long distances on foot to Namugongo as a symbol of identifying themselves with the martyrs. A few fly in from the USA, UK, Nigeria, Sweden and other counties.

But this time, such pomp will not be seen at Namugongo. Only 200 Anglicans will attend the annual ceremony.

According to the Provincial Secretary of the Church of Uganda, the Rev. Canon William Ongeng, the Church of Uganda will hold a stripped-down service at the Anglican Martyrs site of Namugongo.

"Due to COVID19 guidelines, only 200 guests have been invited. Among those invited are the Archbishop, Bishops, Clergy, the choir, and other guests," Ongeng said.

All those attending have been told that they must wear masks and observe SOPs. A communique from Church of Uganda says that the country's president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been invited as guest of honor.

The main celebrant for the planned two hours service is the Anglican Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba. The service will be streamed on Church founded media houses and some national radios and televisions.


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