Traditional, religious and political leaders in Uganda, Kenya and York in Britain have paid homage to the late Bishop of the Equatorial Africa James Hannington at the Hannington Shrine in Budimo village, Busia District.
Religious leaders led by Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Bishop of Bukedi Diocese Simon Bogere Egesa and Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tororo Emmanuel Obbo among others, attended the function on Wednesday.
For the first time in more than a century, the great grandsons of the chiefs of the two kingdoms where Bishop Hannington was loved and where he was killed, met.
Chief Luba Munulo Juma, the great grandson of chief Luba in whose dominion (Busoga) and on whose orders Hannington was killed, met with chief Peter Mumia II, the great grandson to Paramount chief of the Wanga Kingdom Nabongo Mumia, who had given Hannington porters and guides to Kabaka Mwanga’s palace.
The paramount chief later allowed Bishop Hannington’s remains to be buried in his territory at the cost of his people.
During his visit to the shrine, Archbishop Sentamu commissioned the construction of the administration block of Bishop of York Bible College, Canterbury Square, Hannington Tabernacle Chapel and the York Gardens in Budimo.
Sentamu’s visit was crowned by the ecumenical service conducted by bishops Bogere Egesa and Obbo.
The head of the organising committee, Justice James Ogoola, said Archbishop Sentamu’s visit was not only a religious symbol, but a reconciliation ceremony between the people of Luba in Uganda and their counterparts from Mumias in western Kenya.
“I wanted to reconcile the descendants of the two dramatists in Hannington’s last days. One gave him escorts and guides, the other killed him. The two families met for the first time and I made sure I gave each of them a Lusamia Bible and asked them to shake hands as a sign of reconciliation,” Justice Ogoola, also the chairperson of the Uganda Judicial Commission, said.
The place was first dedicated by then Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey in 1998, as a Hannington shrine.
Chief Luba Munulo Juma in his remarks said: “I don’t feel guilty for what my great grandfather did, the bishop died because of his stubbornness before the cultural leader.”
Chief Peter Mumia II said Bishop Hannington was a Christian not an explorer, killed by those who did not understand him.
According to Justice Ogoola, plans are also underway to make the shrine a national pilgrimage for Christians to remember Bishop Hannington for his sacrifice for Christianity.