Security at the Namugoongo Martyrs Shrine has been beefed up with both Police and the Military manning the Namugongo environs.
As the martyrs’ day celebrations in Namugongo proceed smoothly , guest preacher at the Anglican shrine Bishop Nathan Gasatura of Butare Diocese, Rwanda has called upon Christians to desist from tribalism.
In his sermon Bishop Gasatura complimented the Baganda for accepting and spreading Christianity in many part of East Africa including Rwanda. He observed that the largest percentage of christian martyrs were Baganda. He therefore asked that the Baganda distance themselves from land wrangles and focus on keeping the legacy of the Uganda martyrs.
The self confessed descendant of the East African revival said it is high time Uganda stands and defend its legacy as a whole because of the blood the Uganda martyrs shed.
He urged Christians to take responsibility rather than blame their leaders . He said, “If our leaders fail they should not be blamed but blame yourself because as a christian you have not carried your legacy forward.”
At Nakiyanja, the Anglican shrine, Namirembe Diocese organised this year”s celebration. Canon Henry Ssegawa, the vicar of Namugongo Martyrs Church, says at least 1,000 pilgrims walked on foot to the site, with 25 dioceses sending pilgrims.
The guest preacher is Bishop Nathan Gasatura of Butare Diocese in Rwanda. Archbishop Stanley Ntangali, Namirembe Diocese Bishop Kityo Luwalira and other church leaders were in attendance.
Some of the bishops in attendance were Henry Katumba of West Buganda, Luweero bishop Elidad Nsubuga, Micheal Lubowa of Central Buganda, Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale and Steven Namanya of North Ankole among others.
Newly consecrated bishop of West Ankole, Johnson Twinomujuni and the bishop-elect of Lango Diocese, Dr Alfred Olwa, also in attended.
Retired bishops Jackson Matovu of central Buganda, Kefa Kamya of West Buganda and Yona Katonene who retired recently as West Ankole bishop, were also in attendance.
The service commemorated the 25 Anglican martyrs. The Anglican shrine sits on the exact spot where most of the martyrs, both Anglican and Catholic, were executed some 131 years ago on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda. A decade earlier in around 1876, it is believed that more than 74 Muslims were also killed at the same spot on the orders of Mwanga’s father, Kabaka Mutesa I.
The Anglican martyrs include Mark Kakumba, Joseph Lugalama, Nuwa Sserwanga, Noha Walukagga, Alexander Kadogo, Moses Mukasa, Frederick Wigram Kizza, Elias Mbwa, Daniel Nakabandwa, and Robert Munyagabyanjo.
Others are Mubiazaalwa, Lwanga, Mukasa Lwakisiga, Kiwanuka Giyaza, Wasswa, David Muwanga, Kwabufu, Kifamunnyanja, Muwanga Njigija, Kayizzi Kibuuka, Omuwanga of Gabunga, Muyanja Katoogo and Muddugguma. The church also added onto the list Bishop James Hannington who was killed in Busoga in October 1885 and Archbishop Janani Luwum killed in February 1977.
Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi represented the government.
At the Catholic Shrine mass kicked off at about 9:30am led by Bishop Vincent Kirabo of Hoima Diocese.
Uganda Orthodox Church head and two Anglican priests joined the clergy in procession.
Key government officials at the shrine include Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and finance minister Matia Kasaija among others.
A number of languages including Kiswahili, English, Runyoro-Rutooro and Luganda are being used in the mass.