Uganda has been a home for holy tourism for over decades despite the other attractions and natural treasures offers to its foreign guests. There is no need to spend fortunes to enjoy the country’s holidays especially for those on pilgrimage trips. On 3rd June every year Uganda celebrates a special Cristian day that attracts hundreds from different corners of the world. This day unit thousands of Christians who believe that the martyrs faith and braveness can make God interline in their life problems and matters. Out of the faithful believers who attend the celebration every year at Namugongo shrines, about 80% trek by foot from their homes the same way the martyrs did a while ago before being executed though 10% can come by private and hired vehicles.
The journey starts a few days before the main celebration on 3rd and Christians first visit all martyrs sites within the city like Munyonyo, Kisenyi and end with a mass lead by a selected Bishop with in the country. Usually Christians embark on the journey to Namugongo shrine a prime final martyr’s destination to be part of the mass as well as join the worshipers from different regions of the world.The holy week is mostly recognized by faithful and staunch Christians who can get out of their way when it comes to honoring God the creator.The turn up of Christians every year is high a great reason for Uganda to celebrate the Uganda martyrs day hence boosting tourism across the country. Looking at Kampala city tours in detail, holy places are one of the most visited places by tourists not only on 3rd June every but every day.
In history Uganda martyrs shrine in Namugongo reminds a wide number of believers about the pain of their fellow Christian brothers who were ordered to be killed by Kabaka Daniel Basamulakkere Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom. The killings occurred between 1885-1887. Among the twenty two martyrs remembered, Kizito was the youngest said to have been fifteen by the time of their execution. The faith of this young boy give Christians a lot of courage and focus on God and not to look at any other thing in times of trouble and challenges. In Uganda these martyrs are remembered by the entire country on 3rd June, a public holiday to give chance to million people from far and within to visit the Holy Land of Namugongo Shrines. Walking miles by young and old to the shrines is a way of experiencing the pain the martyrs went through before sacrificing their lives the most precious gift for the love of Jesus Christ.
You can’t estimate how long pilgrims trek on the road to reach Namugongo. People come from different corners of the world to celebrate the peaceful endurance day of the Uganda martyrs. Christians express their faith and trust to their creator in many ways including fasting but those who visit the holy shrines of Namugongo involve God in their life problems by walking long distances something they don’t normally do. Though the walks are not easy, those faithful believers testify that whatever they ask God for through the martyrs is always got a reason for them to revisit Namugongo every year. Even the people that live close to the shrines feel privileged because they believe that God can’t take his mighty eyes off them due to the martyrs. Martyrs are great in the lives of million Christians worldwide including pope Benedict XV who blessed them on 6th June 1920 plus Pope Paul VI who canonized them as saints.
As Christians celebrate martyrs day, the Kenyan Christians also recognize their Christian brother who lost his life in Mabira Forest on his way to Namugongo. John Kibe was knocked by a vehicle in 1998 as he was heading to Martyr’s shrine.
As said earlier, celebrations begin earlier as 25th May with a Novena mass in different places where martyrs where killed but the climax is on the 3rd June where the most honored mass is conducted by a selected organizer diocese. The mass starts off at 9.00am with parades escorted by dances organized by the leading diocese. The choir voice sounds make you see the love and joy the people show to their creator. People rejoice in peace for the lord as the police & army hold tight the security around the holy land. Don’t worry about what to eat because food venders are allocated space along the stretches of the Namuwongo- Kyaliwajjala road as well as outside the entrance of the shrine. Hotels and guest houses are usually fully booked days before the celebration by faithfuls who come in a little bit early.
Using such popular holidays add light to several Uganda tourist attractions which add value to the tourism sector. You might have missed several holy celebrations across the world but Uganda martyrs day is one of the exceptional in terms of Christian faith and belief. Why not join the millions and celebrate the faith and love of Christ as you wait for million miracles to come your way soon. This sounds usual but real because every single word spoke to God is a remarkable blessing on the holy Land. Carry your tin bottle or jerican to return home with holy water memories from the holy land.