NAMUGONGO: More than 1400 pilgrims from different corners of the world have confirmed their participation in the Uganda martyrs celebrations.
The pilgrims will grace Uganda Martyrs Day celebrated every June 3 in memory of the lives of Christian converts killed by former Buganda King, Kabaka Mwanga in the late 1880s.
While addressing the media at Uganda Media Centre 25 May the Tororo Catholic diocese Archbishop Dr Emmanuel Obbo, a total of 1407 pilgrims from Africa and the world over have already confirmed their participation in the event.
Dr Obbo explained that 110 visitors are expected from Malawi, 330 from Tanzania, 300 from Kenya, 63 from South Africa, 40 from Nigeria and 21 from Zimbabwe.
“And 524 are expected from Democratic Republic of Congo, 7 from Japan and 12 from USA but we believe the numbers will go up to 7000 including the foot pilgrims from neighboring countries by the beginning of June,” said Dr Obbo.
Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, the State Minister for Tourism said government released Shs 30b for the renovations at Namugongo and that he is happy that the money has been put to good use by giving the places a face lift.
He urged Ugandans to create a friendly environment to make the pilgrims and other visitors at the shrines feel at home.
“And as government, we have provided security to this place to ensure everyone is secure but we urge you to create a good environment for our visitors from the day they come until they leave the country,:” said Mr Kiwanda.
Fr Vincent Lubega, the Namugongo Catholic Shrine rector said the Catholic shrine has already received the first pilgrims from Mbarara who arrived on 24 June and that they were expecting more foot pilgrims today [June 25].
He revealed that more than 2000 foot pilgrims from Tororo will arrive on Monday to begin preparations to lead the mass on 3 June.
“We are on schedule in our preparations and ready to receive the pilgrims from all over the country but we are expecting more pilgrims this weekend,” said Fr Lubega 21 May.
Every year, on June 3, Christians from different parts of the world make their way to two shrines in Namugongo, some 15 kilometres east of Kampala city.
Catholic Martyrs were beatified on 6th June, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on 18th October, 1964, Pope Paul VI canonized them as Saints.
The celebration usually brings together millions of pilgrims from across the globe. Tororo last presided over the Martyrs Day celebrations in 1998.
The shrines are commemorative grounds for the Uganda Martyrs — Catholic and Anglican Christian converts who were killed at the orders of Kabaka Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga Mukasa II between November 1885 and January 1887