KAMPALA- Government will today launch a fundraising drive to rise Shs36 billion for the refurbishing and modernising of the Uganda Martyrs Shrines at Namugongo.
In a meeting with media bosses from selected media houses on Wednesday evening in Kampala, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi said the initiative is intended to prepare the shrines for the Golden Jubilee celebrations earlier scheduled for October 18, but postponed until further notice.
The Catholic Church in Uganda announced they had postponed the celebrations after the Pope, who was expected to preside over the function confirmed he was not able to make the trip to Uganda.
The fundraising drive dubbed “Uganda Martyrs Shrines redevelopment” will be launched today at Serena Hotel by President Museveni.
“We are confident that the methods we have chosen will deliver the Shs36 billion. The Friday sitting will launch the process for us to raise the money,” Mr Mbabazi said in the meeting.
Mr Mbabazi is the chairperson of the committee that is tasked to raise the money in time for the celebrations. The celebrations are expected to attract the attendance of the Pope.
Others on the fundraising committee are; Mr Emmanuel Mutebile, the governor of the central of bank, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, the Centenary Bank CEO Mr Fabian Kasi, and all bank CEOs
October 18 marks 50 years since the canonisation of the 22 martyrs but the Catholic Church was compelled to postpone the celebrations to next year to allow the attendance of the Pope.
The martyrs to be celebrated were canonised by Pope John the VI
The Archbishop of Gulu Diocese, John Baptist Odama, who is also the chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, last year in a communiqué said: “We sent an invitation to His Holiness Pope Francis to visit Uganda and preside over the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs, scheduled for October 18, 2014. The Holy Father did receive our invitation and was very appreciative. However, due to prior commitments, he is unable to visit Uganda this year.”
The premier asked the media houses to be part of the fundraising by, especially giving the drive “utmost coverage.
UGANDA MARTYRS SHRINE
Every year in June, multitudes of believers from around Africa, and beyond descend on Namugongo to commemorate 22 saints who were martyred by King Mwanga, after they refused to denounce Christianity.
The premier estimated that more than 500,000 pilgrims descended on Namugongo in the June celebrations. However, the facilities at the shrines have been the same that were constructed in 1969, by the Milton Obote government when the then Pope John Paul the VI visited the shrines.
“There are only six toilets. It is a miracle that nothing catastrophic has ever happened when millions of people gather in Namugongo,” the Prime Minister said. “We want to modernise the place to make it a place with an altar befitting the pope.”
Some of the changes to be put, the premier said include a new modern pavilion, protecting the spring to make the (holy) water safe for drinking and hotels.