With two days to Uganda Martyrs’ Day, marked every June 3 to celebrated the lives of 22 Ugandan Christians whose commitment to their Christian faith led to their deaths by the orders of Buganda king Mwanga, a special service has been held today Thursday inside the Uganda Martyrs’ basilica to pray for the beatification of former Tanzanian leader Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, who died 18 years ago.
His wife, 87-year-old Mama Maria Nyerere, attended the special service, as did President Yoweri Museveni, who was delighted to meet Tanzania’s first First Lady.
During the prayers, President Yoweri Museveni said that Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and the Uganda Martyrs are uniting East Africa.
Mr. Museveni says many pilgrims who trek from different East African countries to Namugongo Shrine to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs Day and Julius Nyerere Day represent a true meeting of the regions ordinary citizen.
“I am happy with this union of East Africa. I welcome all Tanzanian pilgrims. This is your home. We respect Mwalimu here. I wish you well”, the president said.
He thanked the Nyerere family and the Catholic church in Tanzania for associating his name with Namugongo.
President Museveni went on to say that he never misses these prayers because it has become an East African summit for ordinary people.
“I am pleased he was declared a servant of God, an important step towards canonization. I have 2 examples that show First was his fearlessness when fighting for justice, just like the Uganda martyrs. Mwalimu was very courageous” Museveni said.
“Secondly, Mwalimu helped Tanzania get out of tribalism and religious sectarianism. That was a good vision”, he said.
Kampala Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga led the prayers attended by several high-profile people, pilgrims from Tanzania and other faithful.