KITGUM- President Museveni yesterday declared February 16 a public holiday in honour of former Church of Uganda Archbishop who was killed during Amin’s reign on February 16, 1977.
The President also directed ministries of Education and Gender, Labour and Social development to erect a statue in Kampala in honour of Luwum. A museum will also be built in Mucwin, Kitgum in remembrance of 30 people killed by LRA rebels in 2002.
“Since we have Uganda Martyrs Day public holiday; February 16, the day Archbishop Janani Luwum was murdered, is going to be a public holiday so that people can get time to celebrate his life,” the President declared.
President Museveni said the killing of Luwum was a tragedy and shame to Uganda. Emotions ran high as close friends of Luwum narrated the ordeal the Archbishop endured before he was killed and how they were harassed before and after the clergy resolved to confront Amin to end killings.
A total of 15 bishops wrote to president Amin condemning the extra judicial killings blamed on his regime, asking him to abide by God’s call for respect of human life.
Mr Apollo Lawoko, a former principal information officer at Uganda Television in 1977, said he was arrested and tortured at the notorious State Research Bureau in Nakasero together with Luwum.
Mr Lawoko, said he was in cell number one and the late Archbishop was in the cell opposite and he heard Luwum pleading with his torturers before hearing two gunshots that could have finished his life.“He kept telling them he was innocent as they tortured him...,” Lawoko said.
Mr Lawoko, who authored the book, The Dungeons of Nakasero, broke down in the middle of his speech as told thousands of Christians how he was beaten and became unconscious.
Ms Mary Luwum, the widow, narrated how she met Luwum in a church in Mucwini. “After meeting him, he asked me where I came from and I told him. But he followed me after church and told me he had fallen in love with me,” she said, causing laughter.
The main sermon was delivered by the Archbishop of York, England, John Sentamu, who said he ran to exile in 1970s following increased persecution of members of the Church of Uganda.
Memories of Archbishop Janan Luwum
“Today reminds me [of] the time he was enthroned. We were [in a] celebratory mood. It has been [a] difficult life but God has kept me going,” Mary Luwum, 92, Janani Luwum’s widow
“The death of Archbishop Luwum was a tragedy and a shame to Uganda...I was in Mozambique training young people...we didn’t give up...until we defeated Amin,” President Museveni
“There are 10 modern martyrs and among them is Janani Luwum. Seventeen years ago, I stood in front of his statue in London and inscriptions; Mercy, Truth, justice and peace were written on his statue. He never compromised on issues of justice and peace...,” John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, UK
“We owe gratitude to Janani Luwum for his unwavering fight for justice which marked a turning point in the fight for justice in Uganda,”
Tumusiime Mutebile, BOU governor and Chairman of Saint Janani Luwum Memorial Centre
“Days before Luwum was killed, we went to Namirembe Cathedral to seek refugee because of the letter the bishops had written. But Amin followed us there,”
Retired Bishop Ben Ogwal Abwang, Luwum’s successor as northern Uganda Bishop
“I was detained in cell number one at Nakasero Research Bureau. Farouk Minawa was heading the Research Bureau. I was arrested in 1977, beaten and got unconscious. Archbishop was in cell number two. He kept telling them he was innocent as they tortured him...we heard him saying ‘you have broken my jaw’. He told them: you can continue doing what you are doing but I’m innocent...Amin had two pistols. He said: You want to kill me and overthrow my government. But I will kill you before you kill me. We were taken back to our cells and a few minutes later, we heard two gunshots and there was total silence in the cell where the Archbishop was,”
Apollo Lawoko, former Principal Information Officer of Uganda Television