Celebrating Uganda's Martyrs DayBy MONITOR TEAM | Monday, June 4 2012 at 11:56
Uganda's Martyrs Day celebrations in Namugongo were yesterday marked under tight security, with the police helicopter hovering over a area following last week’s reports of a terror suspect having entered into the country.
The occasion came days after the police chief, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, announced that a key terrorist wanted by security in Kenya had crossed into Uganda. At least 4,000 uniformed and several plain-clothed officers were deployed and commanded by Gen. Kayihura to protect thousands of pilgrims.
For the first time in the recent history, the pilgrims at the Catholic shrine were made to queue and subjected to thorough security checks. “We beefed up the security because of the terror threats around us and also the number of the pilgrims that had increased yesterday (Saturday),” said Ibin Ssenkumbi, the Kampala metropolitan spokesperson.
The Martyrs Day is marked to remember the 22 martyrs who were burnt to ashes under the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887 because they rejected calls to denounce their faith.
At the shrines
At the Catholic Shrine, the clerics described the standoff between the Church and President Museveni as ‘misinterpretation’ of information by some of his advisers. “We are not fighting the President but being objective and just to advise him,” said Kampala Catholic Archbishop, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
In the recent past, the media have carried stories of debates on the church involvement in politics with some commentators advising the church leaders to concentrate on spiritual issues.
Archbishop Lwanga said the advice to concentrate on spiritual issues is misleading because they were called to spread the word of God by guiding people in all aspects of life.
“As we preach peace, let us promote unity and nothing else. To achieve great things, we all need each other,” he said.
Kasana-Luweero Catholic Diocese led this year’s celebrations under the theme: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, (Galatians 2:20).
Vice President Edward Ssekandi commended the Catholic Church for starting Centenary Bank that is giving out loans to people to boost their economic power, a move he said supplements government efforts for development.
“Religious leaders should emphasise the preaching of economic empowerment because it is unchristian to remain poor in the presence of abundant resources,” said Mr Ssekandi while delivering President Museveni’s message which also appealed to parents to work hard to provide necessities to their school going children.
At the Anglican shrine, which is about two kilometres from the Catholic shrine, the turnout was relatively low compared to past years. Dr Edward Muhima (retired Bishop of North Kigezi Diocese), called upon Christians to tackle the challenges facing the country instead of resorting to protests.
“Walk to Work will not develop Uganda. It does not mean that people should not stage protests when things are going wrong but do it as civilized people,” he said, adding: “The Police should also learn to quell such people with humility,”
The speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, who represented the President, urged the Anglican Church to start marketing the site vigorously. She said Uganda has an advantage of having a Ugandan Prelate in the Church of England who would help the church attract pilgrims from England.
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