Mary Luwum laid to rest amidst calls for tolerance

L-R: Ms Betty Aol Ochan, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament; Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda; Deputy Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo; the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Mr Hillary Onek; and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (International Affairs), Mr Okello Oryem, during the burial of Mary Luwum. Photo by Tobbia Jolly Owiny

KITGUM- Ululations Saturday punctuated a gun salute by police officers as a casket containing the body of

Mary Luwum, was lowered into the grave.

Mary, the wife of the late Bishop Janani Luwum was laid to rest at St Paul Church of Uganda, Wigweng village, Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum District.

Ms Luwum, 90, died on August 9 in Kampala.

Her husband, Archbishop Luwum, was killed at Nakasero, Kampala by government soldiers during the reign of former President Idi Amin Dada, on February 16, 1977.

Several dignitaries and clergy at the burial ceremony called for forgiveness among the Acholi, Lango and Kakwa tribes over atrocities that were committed during the regime of President Amin.

Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, said that communities in northern Uganda should forgive and let go, the haunting memories of crimes that were committed against them, during President Amin’s reign.

The atrocities are attributed to President Amin’s soldiers who were mainly from the Kakwa tribe of West Nile.

“Because our children should not inherit the anger, hatred, shame, misery and frustration we have from such tragedies committed against us, we should forgive them and embrace them as our own,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said.

According to him, President Amin never killed Janani Luwum alone, but “every homestead” in Acholi region mourned the death of their dear ones under the tragic government.

Bishop Dr Mark Olwa, the main celebrant at the burial service, said that unless communities in northern Uganda forgive their offenders over the past anarchy and wars, the wounds of the insurgency cannot heal.

“The demise of Ms Luwum should remind us of the goodness and life God put in each of us and the need to forgive our offenders. She [Mary Luwum] forgave the Kakwa people who approached her in January to ask for forgiveness and we should do the same,” Bishop Olwa said.

The prelate said that the demise of Mary Luwum has closed the dark chapter of hatred and misery that existed in the lives of the Acholi and Langi, during President Amin’s government.

In January this year, a team from the Kakwa tribe visited Mary Luwum and asked her to forgive the Kakwa people and President Amin, over the atrocities that were committed during his era.

Meanwhile, President Yoweri Museveni, in a message that was delivered by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, asked Ugandans to emulate the life of Mary Luwum because she was brave to support and encourage her husband not to flee Uganda even when it was clear that President  Amin wanted him dead.

“She has been a role model to many Ugandans with a legacy that all of us have to emulate. As we grieve her demise, let us also celebrate her life that was filled with a lot of meaning and purpose,” Mr Museveni said.

 The burial was attended by bishops; Alfred Acur Okodi of West Lango Diocese, Egesa Bogere of Bukeedi Diocese, Johnson Gakumba of Northern Uganda Diocese and Wilson Kitara of Kitgum Diocese among other members of the clergy.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Betty Aol Ochan, UPDF generals Paul Lokech, Otema Awany, Andrew Gutti, Fred Toolit and Bob Ogik, attended the burial.

Mary Luwum is survived by seven children.