Hundreds of Christians from Uganda and beyond yesterday gathered at Mucwini village in Kitgum district to mark the 40th commemoration of the brutal murder of the late Archbishop Janani Luwum, as both the government and the Church of Uganda announced plans to build or name significant monuments in his memory.
Addressing the congregation, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, described the late Luwum as “a man who is truly a patriot, a shepherd who loved and defended the sheep [that] the Lord had given him to shepherd.”
“He served God up to the point of death,” he said, after adding that Luwum had stood for peace and justice of all people.
Ntagali, who thanked government for setting aside the day of Luwum’s murder as a public holiday to allow Ugandans honour his sacrifice, revealed that in August last year, the 23rd provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda resolved to name the multi-storied Church House on Kampala road as Janani Luwum Church House.
President Museveni, in a speech read for him by Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, also pledged to construct a monument in Mucwini in recognition of the archbishop. He reminded the congregation that a street in the central business district of Kampala is already named after Luwum.
“The government of Uganda appreciates the action of the Anglican Church towards canonising Archbishop Janani Luwum and of recognising his spiritual values and sacrifice to humanity,” Museveni said.
“A monument will be constructed in Mucwini in recognition [of his sacrifice].”
The former United Nations undersecretary general for children and armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, co-chair of the national organising committee for the commemorations, guided two women to reveal a master plan for the proposed memorial site that pilgrims can utilise when visiting Mucwini.
The Kitgum LC V chairperson, Jackson Omona, who said Archbishop Luwum personally drove his (Ouma’s) pregnant mother to hospital as she prepared to give birth to him 40 years ago, asked Christians to emulate the late archbishop and requested the government to further honour Luwum by establishing a university in his name.
“I want, on behalf of the people of Kitgum, and on behalf of Christians, to request… the government of Uganda to establish an institution of higher learning, a public university, in memory of Saint Janani Luwum,” he said.
The event, which began with a prayer led by the retired bishop of Rochester diocese in England, Michael Nazir-Ali, was attended by several senior government officials led by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda. They included deputy speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah and Disaster Preparedness minister Hilary Onek, as well as a number of MPs from northern Uganda.
Also in attendance was the bishop of Bristol diocese in UK, Rt Rev Mike Hill, who represented the archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Ntagali said the Church had declared 2017 the year of family because it is concerned that families in the country are under attack. He said the theme for this year’s family-themed is from Joshua 21: 15, which says, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
“Our children are growing up under very tough conditions and their rights are violated,” he said. “We all need focus on the value of the families, which are a strong foundation for a stable nation and Church.”
The event was concluded with Vice President Ssekandi leading other dignitaries to plant a “unity tree” in front of the church constructed beside Luwum’s grave.