What you need to know:
- The pilgrimage preceding the annual St Janani Luwum Day, celebrated each year on February 16, is aimed at tracing the saint’s final journey from Kampala to his gravesite in Wii Gweng, Mucwini, Kitgum District.
At Layibi Corner, three kilometres from Gulu City Centre, a seemingly frail Mussolini Thomas Tokwiny opens his mouth to indicate that he has lost his teeth.
He is explaining to a group of Christians who ask to serve him a cup of tea. Arguing that hot tea hurts his gums, Tokwiny instead requests for a bottle of water and bananas.
It was 10:40am on Tuesday, and Mr Tokwiny had covered 332km of the about 460km distance from Kampala to Mucwini Sub-county in Kitgum District in five days.
The jailed footballer who carried Archbishop Luwum’s body
Mucwini is the ancestral home of former Church of Uganda Archbishop Janani Luwum, who was murdered during the Idi Amin regime.
In an interview, Tokwiny said he intended to cover the Kampala-Gulu distance in six days.
“The whole journey must take me eight days, I have arrived in Gulu and I will need another three days to make it through Kitgum Municipality to Mucwini,” he said.
On January 23, Mr Tokwiny said he walked to Namirembe Diocese headquarters to inquire whether this year, pilgrims were set to walk from Kampala to Mucwini for the Janani Luwum Day.
However, he was told that there was no such plan.
“At Namirembe, they instead asked me if I wanted a lift and I told them I wanted to foot and that they simply needed to issue me a card for the road, but they did not clear me,” Tokwiny said.
However, one of his eight children advised him to only secure an LC1 introductory letter for the road.
“I went to the LC1 of Naguru Go-down Village on January 26 and he gave me a letter. On January 27 at 7:10am, I started the walk from Naguru Police Post where the officers flagged me off, by 7pm, I had arrived in Luweero Town,” he said.
Feeling exhausted, Tokwiny, a Catholic, says he secured food and ate but when his attempt to secure a space to sleep at the police station in Luwero failed, he resumed the walk until he reached Kakooge and slept at a school by the roadside.
“Day two, I left Kakooge and slept at Migeera and on day three, I slept at Kigumba around 7:30pm. But in between Migeera and Kafu, the sun became too hot that I sat and soaked my shoes in water at about 2pm for 30 minutes,” he says.
On the fourth day (Monday), Mr Towkiny intended to walk from Kigumba to Kamdini in Oyam District and close the 65km distance to Gulu on the fifth day. But he abandoned the idea and walked throughout the night and arrived in Gulu on Tuesday morning.
He explained that walking that distance alone was an act of thanking God for the gift of life and peace in the country.
“My decision to walk stemmed from the fact that God has offered us peace and also to pray to him to save us from the bondage of poverty. I have nothing to give back to God for my life and embarking on this walk of faith is doing enough to thank him,” he said.
Mr Towkiny also said he fed on fruits and water during the journey. “I kept eating bread, biscuits, water, soda and bananas along the way, I tended to avoid full meals because they inconvenience a lot.”
Meanwhile, the hot sun and risk of accidents were his major challenge.
“It was better to walk in the night when it is cool but during the day, it was tough, meanwhile frequent sights of accidents happening in my face devastated me a lot,” he said.
The 64-year-old is a father of 8 children and a resident of Pacwa Vllage, Mucwini West, Kitgum.
Ordinand Charles Ojino of Christ Church Parish, Northern Uganda Diocese, who welcomed Tokwiny into Gulu, on Tuesday afternoon, described his action as a true definition of faith.
“For an old man of a different faith (Catholic) to decide to walk this distance, it is indeed a blessing to us as Acholi, his action should influence everybody to be part and listen to the voice of God,” Ojino said.
February 16 is a public holiday in memory of late Archbishop Janani Luwum.