Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called today for Archbishop Janani Luwum Day to be declared a national holiday. His appeal was made before more than 20,000 people gathered in Mucwini, Kitgum, to honour and celebrate the life, ministry, and martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum, the Church of Uganda’s 2nd Ugandan Archbishop. After arresting him on false charges, former President Idi Amin Dada assassinated him on 16th February 1977. There have been local celebrations of his life and martyrdom around the country since 1977, but today’s commemoration marks the first national and international celebration. His Excellency, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, was the Guest of Honour.
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, presided over the worship service and function. Roman Catholic Archbishop John Baptist Odama led the intercessions, and the Church of England’s Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, preached. Archbishop Sentamu, who was born in Uganda and knew Archbishop Janani Luwum personally, fled Uganda during Amin’s time.
In his sermon, Archbishop Sentamu recalled how Janani Luwum personally welcomed him to Gulu and Kitgum when he was posted there as a Magistrate. He saw Janani Luwum personally advocate for the release of many people unfairly imprisoned. He called on the congregation to pray as Jesus prayed in John 17, the prayer of an overcomer, which is who Janani Luwum was.
In Archbishop Stanley’s remarks, he spoke directly to the family of Archbishop Janani Luwum, saying, “Your father has always held a special place in our heart as the Church of Uganda. He has been remembered in many dioceses and local congregations since his death. Today, in the fullness of God’s time, his memory and significance is being embraced by the entire country. We know you have longed for this day, and we thank God you are here to see it come to pass.”
Archbishop Stanley recognized that Archbishop Janani Luwum’s martyrdom has the power to bring together a country as diverse as Uganda. “It is no accident that we are all gathered here today to remember the life, martyrdom, and legacy of Archbishop Janani Luwum,” he said. “We are different tribes, different denominations, and different political parties. Yet, we are united in honouring this Christian leader who laid down his life for ‘God and his country.’”
Archbishop Stanley also called on the President to support efforts to put up a statue of Archbishop Janani Luwum in Kampala and to build a suitable memorial to him in Mucwini.
In addressing the crowd, the President responded by pledging to support the memory of Archbishop Janani Luwum in a number of ways:
1. Declare 16th February a national holiday
2. Erect a statue of Janani Luwum in Kampala
3. Ask the Minister of Education to plan with Janani Luwum’s family how secondary and vocational schools can be built at Mucwini
4. Ask the Ministers of Education and Culture to establish a museum in Mucwini in honour of Archbishop Janani Luwum and his contributions toward “God and my Country.”