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Journey through Pearl of Africa, a focus on Religious sites  

Millions attended the martyrs day celebrations at Namugongo Martyrs shrines (PHOTO/Courtesy)

CENTRAL REGION – A first-time visitor to Kampala could be forgiven for being shocked by the apparent chaos in this cradle of happiness. Please don’t be alarmed, it is all part of the calm Kampala.

Spread of hills, the city offers modern amnesties amidst brilliant sunshine. Accommodation facilities vary from budget to luxury, the choice is yours. Kampala oozes with the zest of life. This explains the exciting motorbike taxis – Boda Boda. Their urgency to get you to your destination is well matched with the excitement you get while manoeuvring through city suburbs.

Nevertheless, Kampala today bustles with infectious jamming energy, from the various entertainment spots and shows throughout the year, no wonder it is referred to as ‘East African Entertainment capital.’

Kampala was early this year named among the top destination cities in Africa, following the release of MasterCard’s 2017 Global Destination Cities Index.

Based on visitor volume and spend for the 2016 calendar year, the in-depth analysis also provides a forecast for growth in 2017, insight on the fastest growing destination cities, and a deeper understanding of why people travel and how they spend around the world.

According to In Kampala, a local destination guide to the city, Kampala is also one of the cheapest destinations to stay in Africa. The cost of living in Kampala is low if compared with other cities in Africa, for instance, a meal can go as below as UGX 5,000.

A strong local culture and religion were highlighted as the factors that make Kampala a beautiful and a fastest growing city.

PML Daily takes you through some of the religious sites

Uganda Martyrs trail   

Thousands of pilgrims arrive at the Namugongo shrines last year. NEMA (PHOTO/File)

This is Uganda’s exclusive faith tourism experience found nowhere else. The trail takes you through the first Christian missionaries and martyrs trail. Its ends up to at Namugongo, east of Kampala, where most of the Uganda Martyrs were burnt at the stake.

Today, every 3rd June, a public holiday Uganda and the rest of the Christian world commemorate the Uganda martyrs. Of the 45, martyrs, 22 are today saints in the Roman Catholic Church.

Three popes, including the current Pope Francis, have visited the Namugongo, shrine and Uganda Martyrs Museum.

They were Anglican or Catholic. Crowds have been estimated in hundreds of thousands in some years. In June 2015, an estimated 2 million people attended the event.

The Namugongo Shrines were first recognised by Joshua Serufusa-Zake (1884–25 June 1985) when he was the Sabaddu of Kira Sub-County. He constructed a structure at the Namugongo site, where it appears shrines were built later for prayer.

The historic St. Mary’s Cathedral, Rubaga

St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga, commonly referred to as Rubaga Cathedral, is the parent cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. (PHOTO/File)

It was started in the 1880s when Christian missionaries first wondered into central Uganda. Their subsequent influence is clearly seen today in the churches atop the most prominent hills of central Kampala.

The Catholics were given Rubaga Hill were the cathedral imposingly stands. The Romanesque structure with the twin belfry has all the trappings of great houses of worship found in Europe and South America.

Once inside, the grandness is intensified by the colourful paintings and mosaics that depict a mix of both African and European influence united in their faith. It is here you will find the remains of the first African bishop in Uganda, Bishop Joseph Kiwanuka.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe  

St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, commonly referred to as Namirembe Cathedral. (PHOTO/File)

St. Paul’s Cathedral also known as Namirembe Cathedral on the Namirembe Hill is where the Anglican Church of Uganda built the oldest cathedral in Uganda. There have been at least four versions of this church since 1890, as were destroyed by fire.

The present day structure was constructed between 1915 and 1919. It probably has the largest pipe organ piano in Uganda.

Bahai Temple

The Bahai faith was introduced to Uganda at the beginning of 1958. The Bahai temple, the only of its kind in Africa and one of 6 worldwide, was built and completed in 1961 atop Kikaya Hill in Kyebando, a Kampala suburb.

Designed by Charles Mason Ramey, the temple sits on a 50-acre site with immaculate gardens that attract people from far and wide.

The tranquillity you experience in and out of the temple is in itself a triumph to the designer.

National Mosque

Found in Old Kampala, the national Mosque stands overlooking the central business district of Kampala. Originally named after the late Libyan leader, Mummer Qaddafi, the national Mosque is Africa’s second largest Mosque.

Visits to the Mosque are permitted under the rules of the establishment. A walk to the top of the minaret gives you a panoramic view of Kampala.

This is part one: Read our next article in the series.

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