By Spy Uganda
Uganda has today held 2021 Martyrs’ Day celebrations in Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine, North East of Kampala amidst heightened security aimed at enforcing the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Not even deadly COVID-19 could stop determined pilgrims from engulfing both catholic and protestants shrines while observing Covid guidelines.
Contrary to previous years and celebrations that attracted millions of pilgrims globally, authorities this time announced that 2021’s celebrations will be restricted to only 200 individuals and banned pilgrims from travelling towards the Namugongo neighbourhood on foot due to COVID-19 concerns.
Checkpoints and road closures have since been cited around Namugongo restricting a couple of private vehicles from travelling away from Kampala city center in the direction of Namugongo.
The millions of pilgrims from all over the world who gather every 3rd June at Namugongo, about 3,5km from Kampala, Uganda’s capital, do so to commemorate the lives of the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic young men who were murdered between 1885 and 1887, reportedly for their faith, by Kabaka (King) Mwanga, a traditional leader of the Buganda Kingdom.
When Pope Francis visited Uganda in November 2015, he urged Ugandans to use the martyrs’ example of faith to be missionaries at home by taking care of the elderly, the poor, the widowed and the abandoned.
“This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel,” he said, “Rather we honour them and all the saints when we carry on their witness to Christ in our homes and neighbourhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest corner of the world.”