At the neighboring Anglican Shrine, under the stewardship of Retired Arch Bishop Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo (RIP) is a dedicated a Martyrs Museum at the spot of their execution in 1886 with impressive live size sculptures depicting the martyrdom of the 23 Anglican martyrs who were bound and set on a pyre of fire by the kabakas chief executioner, Mukajanga and his men.
Ironically the martyrdom sowed the seeds of Christianity in Uganda as both Kabaka Mwanga, whose father Musesa I had invited missionaries back in 1875, and his chief executioner converted to Christianity before their deaths.
The site now remains silent in contrast to previous years. Residents who had taken for granted cashing in on pilgrims through accommodation, transportation, souvenirs, food and drink now look back to the glory days with a sense of nostalgia , others with hope for a return to better days.
Presiding over the catholic celebrations animated by Masaka Diocese, Bishop Silverus Jjumba in this year’s sermon perhaps summed up the mood saying: “This year, we assemble under exceptional circumstances. A slim number of the faithful are here physically. The multitudes are at home in virtual attendance. Not that they wished to stay away and watch television or listen to radios or indeed switch on social media platforms. No, it is because the COVID-19 pandemic has dictated and forced us into this terrible situation. We look like the dismembered body of Christ. We are scattered, but it would not be right to say we are in disarray.”
His Excellency Most Rev. Luigi Bianco, the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, representing the ‘Holy See’, preached the Papal message “frateri tutti “(All Brothers) subtitled “on fraternity and social friendship” that calls for a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance in a plea to reject wars in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Anglican Shrine, Archbishop of Uganda Kazimba Mugerwa condemned the spate of murders and asked government to come up with laws to fight moral decadence in society .
President Yoweri Museveni promised to set up a shrine to honor the 12 Muslims who were killed together with their catholic and Anglican counterparts. He was represented by John Mitala Head of Public Service and Secretary to the cabinet the Anglican shrine. Also Present were The Speaker of Parliament Hon. Jacob Oulanya and his deputy Anita Among, UN Resident Representative to Uganda, Rosa Malongo and the Katikiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda who represented the reigning Kabaka Mwenda Mutebi, great grandson to Kabaka Mwanga.
In spite of COVID-19, the Shrine remains peculiar in the sense that both Christian and Muslims were martyred for their faith, what’s more is that the Uganda Tourism Board has identified faith-based tourism as its Unique Sales Proposition worldwide. According to Ikechi Uko, renown Nigerian Travel Business Expert, it is not uncommon to find a Nigerian by the names of Lwanga after the Uganda martyr – a testimony to the impact of the venerated Uganda Martyrs.