- On June 19, 2018
- In safari
The Uganda martyrs are Uganda’s exclusive faith based tourism product that takes you through different places where the first Christian missionaries passed and evangelized, and where the Uganda martyrs were killed.
The death of these martyrs has always been an undying memory in the hearts and souls of many people especially Christians who celebrate the lives of the martyrs on 3rd June every year- a day the republic of Uganda considers as the Uganda martyrs’ day and a public holiday.
Many pilgrims especially Christians worldwide descend to the Pearl of Africa to join Ugandans to commemorate the martyrs day. This celebration is in memory of the young men Catholics, Anglicans and Muslims who were executed on orders of Kabaka Mwanga, the then king of Buganda kingdom for refusing to denounce their faith in Jesus Christ. The execution occurred between November 1885 and June 1886. On November 15th 1885, Joseph Mukasa Balikudembe became the first Uganda martyr when he was executed on orders of Kabaka Mwanga. The climax occurred on 3rd June 1886 at Namugongo where 12 martyrs were matched and burnt alive on a blazing fire. What is surprising is that these martyrs died singing in the hot fires and among the group was Kizito the youngest who was only 15 years old. He would not for sake the Gospel even when the King’s executioner pleaded with him to say just a few words so that his life might be spared.
To have a full experience of the trail of the Uganda martyrs, one should not miss out on places such as these;
Mapeera site in Ssese
This is where father Simeon Lourdel, who was later named “Mapeera” and brother Amans first touched on Ugandan soil when they landed at the site to spend a night of 15th February 1879. They were on their way to Lubaga to meet Kabaka Muteesa1, seeking permission to set up evangelism camp in Buganda.
Kigungu church, Entebbe
This was the second spot where father Simeon Lourdel and brother Amans landed on 17th February 1879 after spending a night at Bugala Island in Ssese enroute Muyonyo to meet Kabaka Mutesa1.
Mapeera site, Kisubi
While on their way to Muyonyo palace, the missionaries also stayed at Kisubi, on shores of Lake Victoria a long Entebbe road. The Catholic Church later revamped this site and established a seminary called Kisubi.
Uganda martyrs shrine, Muyonyo
This was where Kabaka Mutesa1’s palace was situated and it is from here that he had earlier on written a letter to Queen Victoria of UK in 1876 inviting Christian missionaries to come to Buganda. The journey of the martyrs started in this place before their execution at Namugongo under orders of Kabaka Mwanga who assumed power when his father (Kabaka Mutesa1) died in 1884.
Uganda martyrs shrine, Namugongo
It was in this site that the execution of the martyrs reached a climax on 3rd June 1886 when the martyrs were burnt alive on fire. This place was earmarked by construction of a church. The Uganda martyrs shrine is a Catholic church dedicated to the martyrs who shed their blood because of their Christian faith. The shrine is well known for its beautiful and unique interior and exterior. What makes it attractive is its shape and architectural plan: the 22 copper pillars over 100 feet long that support the shrine built inform of an African traditional hut and its wooden doors that depict the history of the martyrs.
Following the killing of the martyrs which climaxed on 3rd June1886, Namugongo has outstandingly taken the image of attraction as a place of pilgrimage. Martyrs Lake at this site continues to draw many to the place because it is believed that the water of this lake has healing effects. The pavilion in the martyrs’ lake is another unique feature at Namugongo. It is grass thatched, circular in shape and supported by pillars. It is in this pavilion that the main celebrant sits together with priests on 3rd June every year while celebrating the lives of Uganda martyrs. In the center of the church preserved in glass are remains of one of the Roman Catholic martyrs, Kaloli Lwanga.
When to visit
One can visit at any time of the year but the most favorable time is between May and July every year, during which you can also join the annual celebrations of 3rd June every year.
Connect with Kjong Safaris Uganda to book a place at next years Uganda Martyrs celebrations. kindly contact our office by email: [email protected] or phone call at: +256 776 660 918/ +256 751 646 578