The Anglican Church has completed the construction of an amphitheatre at the Martyrs site in Namugongo, Wakiso District.
The development will relieve Christians who have for several years endured from the scorching sunshine or rains and congestion under trees during the annual prayers held every June 3 to celebrate the Uganda Martyrs.
Mr Enock Rukundo, the Administrator of the Anglican Martyrs site, said the Shs13b magnificent Amphitheatre funded by the government of Uganda has a capacity of 20,000 seats.
When this publication visited the shrine yesterday, the construction team was busy giving the theatre final touches, as pilgrims continued to arrive.
By yesterday, only six pilgrims had walked to the shrine from different parts of Uganda with the first one arriving on May 22.
“This is where we are going to sit and have the celebrations for the first time. It is already set up. We are into sound system checkup, but most of the landscaping details have been done and we are ready to have it for the first time. We are waiting for the increasing number of pilgrims who are coming this year and so far so good,” Mr Rukundo said.
“We implore Ugandans to be part of the celebrations as we unveil our great facility that God has brought us through the support from government and President Museveni,”he added.
President Museveni is expected to grace this year’s celebrations.
Mr Rukundo said the theatre consists of a Podium for the Archbishop, space for Bishops, VIP seats, general seats and walkways and is surrounded by open terraces and a special site for Holy water.
Mr Rukundo said a collection point for Holy water has been created and that people should come and take the Holy water on the D-Day, an opportunity that they missed last year due to incomplete construction works.
As we moved towards the source of Holy water, sandwiched by the two sides of the theatre, we were struck by the artistic impression of the statue of Mukajanga, the Chief Executioner of the Uganda Martyrs.
His statue is surrounded by several other men clad in backcloths and armed with spears, machetes and pieces of wood.
This area is believed to be the water stream where Mukajanga used to draw water for home use, in addition to cleaning the blood stained spears used for execution.
Mukajanga was Buganda Kingdom’s chief executioner who on June 3, 1886, ended the lives of 45 young Christians at Namugongo under the order of Kabaka Mwanga II.
The green scenery and a cool breeze from thousands of different tree species in the compound offer natural comfort to whoever steps foot into the premises of the shrine.
Ms Harriet Kiiza, a principal tourism officer in the Ministry Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, said her ministry had been coordinating preparations to ensure successful celebration.
“We have had a site visit to assess the level of preparedness and we are very ready to go. The Anglican Site has put in a lot of energy this time. The Amphitheater has made the whole place look different. With the new construction, new sitting arrangement, the place is going to be full,” she anticipated.
Mr Christopher Tusubira, the Coordinator of Eastern Region Cluster of Fathers Union attached to Busoga Diocese, said since June is normally hot and dry, the heat has greatly been affecting the believers.
Mr Tusubira encouraged believers, especially men, to turn up in big numbers on the D-day and pray for the souls of Uganda Martyrs who sacrificed their lives.
He wondered why fewer men attend church services and social gatherings yet they constitute the highest percentage of prisoners in the country.
A group of 45 Anglican and Roman Catholic martyrs were executed on the orders of Kabaka. They were killed between 1885 to 1887.
They were executed by Mukajanga in Munyonyo, Kampala and Namugongo, among others. The 22 African Roman Catholic martyrs were collectively beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 and canonized on October 18, 1964.