Munyonyo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Pilgrims have walked or run in a 5km and 10km event from Munyonyo to Kampala, as part of activities leading to this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations. The celebrations are held every year on June 3rd.
Martyrs’ Day is celebrated in remembrance of the young Christian converts who refused to denounce their newly found religion between 1885 and 1886 to the annoyance of the then Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda. He ordered that they be burnt to death but they died while defending their faith.
Rt. Rev. Robert Muhiirwa, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Portal flagged off the Martyrs Run and Walk Saturday morning.
Fort Portal Catholic Diocese is coordinating and leading this year’s celebration under the theme “Baptised and sent to witness Christ with Love and Hope.” The diocese last led the celebrations in 1997.
Bishop Muhiirwa flagged off the pilgrims shortly after 10am, with the walk and run starting from Uganda Martyrs Minor Basilica in Munyonyo until St.Matia Mulumba church in Old Kampala. The event began with mass inside the basilica.
Tom Butime, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities was among the pilgrims present at the minor basilica.
Butime encouraged the general public to join in the walk and run and other activities ahead of the martyrs day celebrations.
According to Aloysius Tamale the spokesperson of the 2022 Martyr’s day celebrations at Munyonyo minor basilica, the runners and walkers were to move pilgrims were given the option of either going to Uganda Marty’s catholic shrine in Namugongo or returning back to Munyonyo Basilica.
The minor basilica is holding activities including Novena prayers for 9 days which started on Wednesday, the Marty’s run and walk ,Mass and a talk from 5pm and a vigil on 2nd June. On 3rd June, the minor basilica will also host pilgrims by having two masses and baptism followed by a feast in celebration of families.
The Munyonyo Minor Masilica stands at the point where the Uganda martyrs began their walk of faith to martyrdom at Namugongo execution ground on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda Kingdom between 1885 and 1886.
Two martyrs; St. Denis Ssebugwawo and St. Andrew Kaggwa were executed at Muyonyo and monuments have been erected in their memory.
The rest of the martyrs were killed in various places namely Busega for Makko Kakumba, Nuwa Sserwanga and Yusuf Rugarama, Old Kampala in the case of Matia Mulumba Kalemba, Yosefu Mukasa Balikuddembe market alias Owino market where St. Balikuddembe, the first martyr, was beheaded, Naalya where Gonza Gonzaga died and finally Namugongo where 22 martyrs like Ponsiano Ngondwe were burnt alive.
Other martrys are Ponsiano Ngondwa, Eriya Mbwa, Antanansio Bazzekuketta, Muddu-aguma, Daudi Muwanga, Lwanga Karoli, Nowa Mawaggali, Kayizzi Kibuuka, Lukka Baanabakintu, Yakobo Buuzabalyawo, Gyaviira, Ambrosio Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Kizito, Ludigo Mukasa and Bruno Sserunkuuma.
Also martyred were Mugagga, Tuzinde Mbaga, Alexanda Kadoko, Mubi Azaalwa, Robert Munyangabyangu, Kifamunnyanja, Kiwanuka Giyaza, Frederick Kizza, Kwabafu, Muwanga Njigija, Lwakisinga Mukasa, Wasswa, Nuwa Walukagga and Muzeeyi Jean-Marie.