Namugongo shrines return to normal after celebrations

The arena at the catholic shrine at Namugongo in Wakiso District yesterday. Photos | Micheal Kakumirizi & Isaac Kasamani

What you need to know:

  • In the past, some pilgrims have been stuck at the shrine with no transport fare to return home.

The situation at the Namugongo Catholic Shrine is returning to normal following the end of the Martyrs’ Day celebrations on Saturday.

The shrine hosted hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from within and outside the country who have since returned to their respective homes.

Pilgrims leave the catholic shrine at Namugongo.

Yesterday, traffic outside the shrine flowed smoothly while traders and vendors, who were selling merchandise during the celebrations, were hardly noticeable.

The Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ms Justice Kasule Lumumba, who was the patron of the central organising committee for this year’s celebrations, told journalists yesterday that as much as the function had ended, “it was still part of their responsibility to ensure the Catholic Shrine’s surroundings were left tidy.”

Fr Vincent Lubega blesses a pilgrim at the catholic shrine.

This publication found Ms Lumumba yesterday overseeing the cleaning of the shrine’s compound.

And unlike in the past where many pilgrims got stranded at the shrine after the celebrations, there was a noticeable smaller number of people in the compound.

The Minister for General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, Ms Justice Kasule Lumumba (left), supervises the cleaning at the catholic shrine. 

Some of them told the Monitor that they had already arranged for transport and were only waiting for coasters and buses to transport them back to their respective homes.

Ms Lumumba later said they had helped organise means of transport for some of the pilgrims, including the choir members from Jinja Diocese, who animated this year’s celebrations.

The Katuukiro (premier) of Busoga Kingdom, Dr Joseph Muvawala, added that they are trying to return the place to what it was [before the celebrations] by “mopping up” and this will take them two days [which end today].

People pick rubbish at the catholic shrine yesterday. 

But some pilgrims told this publication that they are stranded.

A case in point was Mr Julius Ngirangu from Kenya who said he had already spent his “transport” money on treatment after falling ill before the main celebrations on Saturday.

“I have been left with no choice but to contact my family and once they send me money, I will then get a bus back home,” Mr Ngirangu said.

At the Anglican shrine that also hosted pilgrims, this publication found cleaners tidying up the grounds with a few pilgrims hanging around. The environment was calm. By 8am, most of the pilgrims had left.

Only Christians who came to attend Sunday services and a few pilgrims fetching holy water were present by press time.

The in-charge of the Anglican Shrine, Rev Esau Bbosa, said only three people contacted them, saying they lacked transport, which their management provided.

Before rendering financial support, Rev Bbosa said they double-checked their credentials so as to avoid giving support to wrong people.

Addressing journalists on Saturday, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Mr Patrick Onyango, said 140 arrests were made during the celebrations following a joint security operation.

Of these, 107 were cases of theft, malicious damage to property, possession of narcotic drugs and impersonation.

By Esther Oluka, Jane Nafula & Peter Sserugo