20, 000 pilgrims expected at Anglican Martyrs Shrine

Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the senior presidential adviser on public relations, who is also the chairperson of publicity of the Organising Dioceses [Greater Ankole] (left), Mr Enock Rukundo, the Uganda Martyrs Museum administrator (second left) and Rev Esau Bbosa, the in-charge of Namugongo Martyrs Anglican Site (second right) on May 22, 2022. PHOTO/ESTHER OLUKA  

What you need to know:

  • The organisers say they expect numbers or pilgrims to increase because many have missed the occasion for two years.

The Anglican Martyrs Shrine will host at least 20,000 pilgrims during the Martyrs Day celebrations this year, government has said.

President Museveni is expected to be the chief guest while retired Kenyan Anglican Bishop Samson Mwaluda will be the main celebrant.

Ms Mary Karooro Okurut, the senior presidential adviser on public relations, who is also the chairperson of publicity for the organising dioceses [Greater Ankole],  and Rev Esau Bbosa, the in-charge of Namugongo Martyrs Anglican Site, made the remarks yesterday.

“We are expecting about 20,000 visitors and pilgrims to come and attend. [However], we may receive more because many people are eager [to attend this year] after the celebrations were halted for a while,” Ms Okurut said.

The celebrations have been held scientifically for the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged economies and brought business to a standstill globally.

“We know [that for] about two years it [celebration] was disrupted by Covid-19 and the lockdown. So, after this period, we are [re-opening] the celebrations under the theme ‘hope beyond affliction’. We were afflicted in one way or another by the Covid-19 monster and so [intention of the theme] is to praise God [for pulling the country through],” Ms Okurut added.

She said standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be enforced during the celebrations.  
“Everybody will have to wear a mask and there will be various water designated handwashing points,” she said, adding: “There will also be emergency services, including ambulances to cater for anyone having ill-health.’’

Rev Bbosa said temperatures of guests will be checked and recorded at the gates.
“Guests will not be sent away, rather, they will be thoroughly checked by the medical experts who will then advise on a way forward,” Rev Bbosa said.

He could not by press time ascertain the exact number of guests, including pilgrims that they registered in 2019, the last time they held the fete.


  Last Wednesday, during a fundraising dinner for the celebrations at the Anglican Martyrs Shrine at Kampala Serena Hotel, the Rt Rev Sheldon Mwesigwa, the bishop of Ankole Diocese, told Daily Monitor that they had amended the budget for the function from Shs600 million to Shs800 million due to the rising cost of living. They now have a deficit of about Shs300 million.

This year’s fete

June 3 is annually celebrated to commemorate the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic Christians who refused to denounce their faith. They were killed on orders of the Kabaka Mwanga II between November 1885 and January 1887.  

Greater Ankole will lead the events at Namugongo Martyrs Anglican Site under the theme, hope beyond affliction. Fort Portal Diocese is leading celebrations at Namugongo Martyrs Catholic Shrine under the theme, ‘baptised and sent to witness Christ with love and hope’.


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