15 February 2017

Uganda: Let's Remember Both Luwum and His Cause

Photo: Daily Monitor
Calm before the storm. Archbishop Luwum (left) with president Idi Amin before the murder.

Today the whole country observes the national holiday in commemoration of the martyred Archbishop Janani Luwum who was murdered during the Idi Amin regime on February 16, 1977.

His death teaches us a big lesson; that you can kill the messenger of a just cause but you can never kill the cause.

Luwum stood so firmly in his faith that even when death stared him into the face under brutal torture by state functionaries, he did not yield to evil.

Today's 40th anniversary celebrations in Mucwini, Kitgum District, to commemorate Archbishop Luwum should guide us to remember the cause for which he died and uphold it firmly so that his death is not in vain.

His martyrdom should be a rallying axis to motivate all rivalling religious, political and other adversarial groups in and outside Uganda to reconcile and shun hostility against each other for the good of humanity.

Luwum's martyrdom laid a foundation for harmony among the Christian faithful that led to Pope John Paul II visiting the Canterbury Church.

After Luwum's execution on February 16,1977, the Canterbury Cathedral was so motivated by his martyrdom that it established a Chapel of Modern Martyrs and Canterbury Cathedral became the first in the Anglican Communion to declare Archbishop Luwum the 20th Century African martyr.

In May 1982 when Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit Canterbury Cathedral since the 16th Century, he knelt in the Chapel for Modern Martyrs--- made possible by the martyred blood of Luwum--- and prayed for Christian reconciliation.

That reconciliation now seems to be extending to the political establishment in Uganda. His 38th anniversary commemoration celebrations in February 2015, President Museveni and Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and Opposition leaders like Olara Otunnu came together to organise the ceremony.

The Janani Luwum Charity, jointly overseen by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Church of Uganda and John Baptist Odama of the Catholic Archdiocese, is another big symbol that suggests Luwum's cause for unity among mankind has not been in vain. That's why the declaration by President Museveni in Mucwini village in 2015 that February 16 would henceforth become a national public holiday in memory of Luwum was very significant.

However, now we must look beyond the memorial celebrations. We must reflect deeply on what Luwum stood for; a free human race living harmoniously and forgiving. We must stop evil and unjustified violence against each other. We are all children of God.


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