President Museveni yesterday thanked former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere for his “role” in the overthrow of the Idi Amin’s regime in 1979.
Mr Museveni, who was commanding one of the two Ugandan fighting groups that overthrew Amin 35 years ago, told worshippers attending prayers for beatification of Nyerere in Namugongo that Uganda is grateful to Tanzania.
“Tanzania liberated us and we were able to help our brothers in Rwanda, DR Congo, South Sudan and Somalia,” Mr Museveni said.
“The late Mwalimu was a Pan-Africanist who loved God and mankind. He united the people of Tanzania of different religious backgrounds and helped liberate most African countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Uganda,” he said.
The Nyerere family led by the widow, Maria Nyerere and hundreds of Tanzanian pilgrims, attended the church service that precedes tomorrow’s Martyrs’ Day in Namugongo in commemoration of the 23 Christian coverts killed by Kabaka Mwanga, more than 130 years ago.
Mr Museveni also commended Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga for his time to pray for Mwalimu Nyerere.
The President pledged to boost capacity of Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine through provision of accommodation facilities and improving sanitation systems.
He also advised the church to invite other leaders among them Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and former presidents Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Joachim Chissano of Mozambique who worked with Nyerere for a better Africa.
Archbishop Lwanga told worshippers that some pilgrims from Nigeria had been involved in an accident on Entebbe Road from the airport on Saturday but none was hurt.
About one million pilgrims from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, DR Congo and South Sudan attended last year’s Martyrs Day celebrations, Archbishop Lwanga said.
He said the big numbers of pilgrims are beginning to overwhelm the Church, which does not have enough facilities.
He described the late Nyerere as a father, freedom fighter, pan-Africanist and a friend of Uganda. The process to make the late Nyerere a saint started in 2007 with beatification.
holy, respected mwalimu
In a letter to pilgrims by the chairman of the Nyerere beatification process, Emmanuel Katumba Ssalongo, said the former Tanzanian leader was holy, not corrupt, respected and loved mankind.