Scores of the faithful from different walks of life today gathered at Mucwini Sub-county Kitgum District to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Archbishop Janani Luwum.
Prayers were led by the Archbishop of the church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali who among other things, thanked president Museveni and his government for declaring this day a public holiday in honor of the late Archbishop Janani Luwum.
In attendance are; Vice president, Edward Sekandi who is the chief guest, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and the deputy speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah.
In a message delivered by Vice President Edward Sekandi during the national event to mark 40 years since Luwums death, Museveni said there can be no better example of the kind of leader the people of Uganda deserve. He also calls upon Ugandans to emulate Luwums humility and steadfast vision for a better Uganda.
Archbishop Janani Luwum: Martyrdom and biography
Archbishop Janani Luwum was born in 1924 in Mucwini, Chua, to Eliya Okello and Aireni Aciro. He was educated in Gulu High School and trained as a school teacher at Boroboro Teachers College, Lira. He accepted Christ as his personal Saviour in 1948, when he was a school teacher. Luwum’s conversion changed his life that the Leadership of the Chosen Evangelical Revival (CER) Movement encouraged and supported him to train for the ordained ministry of the Native Anglican Church (NAC).
Notably, late Evangelist Yusto and late Mama Josephine Amato Otunnu — parents of Ambassador Olara Otunnu – were the pioneers of CER Movement in northern Uganda. They are the ones who led the young school teacher Janani Luwum to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour in 1948.
Luwum enrolled for ordination training at Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi, in present day North Mbale Diocese (Sironko District). In 1956, he was ordained Priest of then Upper Nile Diocese (which extended up to present day South Sudan) in St Phillips Church, Gulu. Thereafter, Luwum served as Parish Priest and Chaplain in a number of Parishes and Church Schools in Northern Uganda. In 1958/9, he went for the one- year Anglican leadership course at St Augustine’s College, Canterbury. On return, he was appointed tutor and rose to become deputy principal of his alma mater, Bishop Usher Wilson Theological College, Buwalasi, until 1962/3. After a brief stint as deputy principal at Buwalasi, Luwum returned to England for further studies at the London College of Divinity, now St John’s College, Nottingham. He completed the normal three-year diploma in Theology in two years!
On return home in 1965, Luwum was appointed the principal of Buwalasi, his alma mater, where he served until September 1966, when he was appointed provincial secretary to Archbishop Erica Sabiti, the first African Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga- Zaire. On 25th January 1969, he was consecrated and enthroned Bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese.
In May 1974, Bishop Janani Luwum succeeded his mentor Archbishop Erica Sabiti, who had also become the first Bishop of Kampala Diocese, 1972-1973. Thus, Bishop Janani Luwum became the second African Archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire; and the second Bishop of Kampala Diocese.
On the February 16, 1977, Archbishop Janani Luwum was martyred at Nakasero by the regime of President, Gen Idi Amin Dada.
His body was taken to the Church yard at Wii Gweng, Mucwini, on February 19, 1977 where he was later buried. He is survived by his widow, Mama Mary Luwum, seven children, four sisters, two brothers and several grandchildren.
Archbishop Janani Luwum was the first sitting Archbishop in the entire Anglican Communion to be martyred in office, since Archbishops of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer and William Laud were martyred in office in 1556 AD and 1645 AD, respectively. Thus, his martyrdom on February 16, 1977 so motivated the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral that they established a Chapel to commemorate Modern Martyrs because of Luwum’s martyrdom in Uganda. Thus, Canterbury Cathedral/Church of England was the first ecclesiastical authority in the whole of the Anglican Communion to proclaim Archbishop Janani Luwum 20th Century African Martyr. Henceforth, Archbishop-martyr Luwum has been referred to as “Blessed Janani” in the Special Prayers (Collect) of the Church of England. The Modern Martyrs Chapel in Canterbury Cathedral was dedicated in July 1978 during Lambeth ’78.
In May 1982, Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Canterbury Cathedral since the 16th Century. He and Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, knelt in the Chapel for Modern Martyrs — made possible by the martyr’s blood of Blessed Janani Luwum — and prayed for Christian reconciliation.
In July 1998, Blessed Janani Luwum’s statue was unveiled on the West Wall of Westminster Abbey, London, among statues of 10 other 20th Century Martyrs.