President Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kitwete yesterday expressed their support for the ongoing campaign in the Catholic Church to have former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere recognised as a saint.
Speaking during special prayers at the Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine at Namugongo, for the beatification of the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Mr Museveni said the various African liberation struggles, which Nyerere supported, proves that his principles positively affected Tanzania and the African continent.
Mr Museveni praised Nyerere for uniting the different religious groups in Tanzania and advancing Swahili as a common language to unite the ethnically diverse country. Quoting the Bible, Mr Museveni said: “We shall know them by their works, not by their words.” “Tanzania has been the most peaceful country in East Africa because the people have been able to harvest from Mwalimu’s principles. We should continue praying that he reaches a stage where he could be declared a blessing of God.”
The campaign to canonise Nyerere began on January 26, 2006 when the Vatican accepted a request from the Bishop of Musoma in northern Tanzania to canonise the late president. The Vatican then granted him the title of ‘Servant of God.’ Yesterday’s Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Bishop Emeritus Edward Baharagate. Nyerere’s widow Maria Gabriel was in attendance.
Mr Kikwete, who revealed that as a Muslim and a politician he is always challenged to speak at Christian gatherings, promised to support the process. He argued that Nyerere’s legacy, both as a politician and a Catholic, has had a far-reaching positive consequence in Africa.
“Anything that elevates the name of Tanzania in the Catholic Church is something that I will always support as a President,” Mr Kikwete said. “He left his job to lead the struggle for the independence of Tanzania and later led the process of building our country.” He said Nyerere succeeded in building a united, peaceful and stable country. “These are the two attributes of this great man that Tanzania will always be proud of,” Mr Kikwete said.
Meanwhile, the police announced yesterday that it has banned vending of alcohol and food items at Namugongo Shrine during tomorrow’s Martyrs Day celebrations. Police deputy spokesperson Henry Kalulu said the Force would also set up traffic routes that will be followed by all motorists and pedestrians. “Only saloon cars from Jinja Road will access the Catholic Shrine from Kireka-Kyaliwajjala Road and this road will be strictly one-way,” Mr Kalulu said yesterday.