Thousands of Christians from across the country yesterday attended celebrations in memory of Church of Uganda’s first archbishop, the late Janani Luwum.
About 9:30am, bishops walked down from St Paul’s Church of Uganda in a procession to take their seats at the altar prepared on the ceremonial grounds in Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum District.
The colourful function was animated by ululation and songs by Christians. A combination of members from St Janani Luwum Parish, Kitgum Town, Christ Church Gulu, and All Saints Church formed the choir.
February 16, is gazetted nationally to remember Luwum who was brutally murdered by Idi Amin’s regime in 1977.
By 10.31am, while Church of Uganda outgoing Archbishop Stanley Ntagali delivered his sermon, security was deployed at Bishop Luwum’s grave site to control hundreds of Christians who resorted to praying and taking photos. The 10,000 seats that had been prepared for the event had been filled up to capacity but people still poured in.
Whereas the ceremony was punctuated by dances, certificates were awarded by Archbishop Ntagali to pilgrims who walked 510kms from Kampala to Mucwini for the celebrations.
In the middle of his sermon, Ntagali warned Christians against religious prostitution. He said religion had been commercialised and new churches were sprouting up to simply extort money from the poor.
He also pleaded with government to consider designing a component in the teaching syllabus about the dangers of drug abuse that has become a big problem.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Ntagali also cautioned a section of Luwum’s family members against encroaching on church land.
“I want to remind all members of the church that church land belongs to the Registered Trustees of the Church of Uganda. We have cases where the grand children, who become rich, are hijacking that land and I pray that God will forgive them because we (church) are the rightful stewards and church land is God’s land,” he said.
According to him, Mucwini is among the three historical sites that the Church of Uganda is investing resources in tourism attraction.
“This place is very historic, I appeal to the Diocese of Kitgum and its bishop to work with the office of the archbishop in order to expedite the leasing process of the land so that we can continue with the developments,” he added.
In his message read by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, President Museveni advised Ugandans to pray for continued peace as the country struggles to seek prosperity and development.
“We have gone through big problems of diseases such as Ebola and HIV/Aids and we have also had locusts’ invasion. Let us continue to pray for our nation as we consolidate the peace God has given us as we seek prosperity,” President Museveni said.
Mr Museveni described the death of Luwum as pivotal, a turning point in the liberation history of Uganda since it portrayed Idi Amin’s regime as bloody and prompted the mobilisation and invasion by combined Tanzania and UNLA forces that ousted the regime.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem called for reconciliation.
“He is still a symbol of peace and his relevance continues to influence the lives of Ugandans to date, this means we should all begin to live again as brothers and sisters,” he said.
In memory. In 2015, President Museveni declared February 16, a public holiday in honour of Janani Luwum.
The holiday is dedicated to the life and service of Luwum.
Archbishop Luwum, the head of the Anglican Ecclesiastical Province of Uganda, Burundi, Eastern Congo and Rwanda, was killed in 1977, during President Idi Amin’s regime.
The day was celebrated under the theme ‘We shall not get tired of doing what is good’.