The memorial walk for the martyrdom of St Janani Luwum, the former Archbishop of Church of Uganda, kicked off in Kampala on Wednesday.
Hundreds of pilgrims started the 510km trek from Namirembe Diocese to the late cleric’s birthplace in Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum District, where celebrations to mark the Janani Luwum Day will be held on February 16.
Archbishop Luwum was murdered on February 16, 1977, during Idi Amin’s regime. He is remembered for his faith, unwavering stand for truth and justice.
Mr Olara Otunnu, the vice chairperson of the national committee organising the walk, urged Ugandans to emulate the life of the saint.
“I am not afraid. I see the hand of God,” Mr Otunnu quoted Luwum’s last words to his bishops at Nile Hotel now Serena Hotel as he headed for Idi Amin’s Kangaroo court trial on that fateful day.
“His murder jolted the fight for liberation. The international community would never have come to save Uganda. It was his blood that opened the way for liberation and united Ugandans,” Mr Otunnu said, citing Tanzania as a key player in the overthrow of Amin in 1979.
“His martyrdom was for all. He was a great human rights fighter. Ugandans should seriously commit to human rights,” Mr Otunnu said.
Mr Otunnu was accompanied by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Betty Aol Ocan, and Kabweri County MP Francis Gonahasa, who carried the cross from Namirembe Cathedral while singing Acholi hymns with other pilgrims.
“The purpose of the pilgrimage is to retrace the spiritual and historical meaning and milestones of Archbishop Janani’s searing martyrdom,’’ outgoing Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali said.
‘‘It is a thanksgiving for his extraordinary witness and example,” he added.
The Rev Canon William Ongeng, the provincial secretary of Church of Uganda, said Ugandans should walk to remember Luwum’s true character of non-violence.
“He loved everybody. That is why he accepted to die for the good of Uganda, others and the world. He wanted the world to be at peace. His leadership teaches us to advocate good governance, peace and human rights,” the Rev Can Ongeng said.
Ms Ocan urged all able Ugandans to join the walk for solidarity.
Mr Munialo Were Otieno, a pilgrim from Busia District, said: “We want more leaders that want the truth to free ourselves and show the world that we need moral, social, political and economic liberation.”
Ms Virginia Aciro Lugai, a pilgrim from Kitgum, appealed to the church to fight for truth and justice.
The patrons of this year’s pilgrimage are Archbishop Ntagali, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, and the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.