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Several People Bounced at Namugongo Martyrs Shrines

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The annual celebration is in remembrance of 45 young Christian converts who were brutally murdered between 1885-1887 by Kabaka Mwanga for their allegiance to Christianity. They were beatified in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and later canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964.
Uganda Martyrs Shrine ; Photo Courtesy of Namugongo Shrine Parish

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Several people have been bounced by security at Namugongo Martyr’s shrines, where they had turned up to join a special mass organised to commemorate the Annual Martyrs day Celebration.

The annual celebration is in remembrance of 45 young Christian converts who were brutally murdered between 1885-1887 by Kabaka Mwanga for their allegiance to Christianity. They were beatified in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV and later canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964 at the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome becoming the first-ever black saints from the sub-Saharan Africa to be canonized.

Every year, Christians from across the world flock to the shrine in a journey of faith and passion to commemorate this day in honour of their Religious heroes. But this year, the feast was called off as the world struggled to contain a new strain of coronavirus that spreads fast among crowds. The borders were closed and public gatherings banned in Uganda, and across the world.

As a result, the Church announced that the celebration this year was cancelled. The Church also called off all masses in the Shrine and sub-parish churches including all liturgical gatherings until the COVID threat is cleared. However, only 60 people, most of them religious leaders, were invited for a special mass. These include 40 people at the Anglican Shrine and 20 at the Catholic shrine.

However, several people driving private vehicles had gathered at the gate by 7:00 am waiting to join the mass. They were seen pleading with police officers who also advised them to return to their homes, saying only invited persons would be granted access.  Some of the people turned away stayed insisting they wanted to talk to the rector to allow them in. 

"My friend, call the rector. I want to talk to him. When he sees me, I will be allowed in," one gentleman clad in a suit driving a Parado told a police officer. However, the officer insisted that only those on the list would be allowed in. "Do you know me?" the gentleman in his early 50's questioned.   

Besides, people in private cars, parishioners also started arriving in smaller groups mainly at the Catholic shrine. This prompted the deployment of more security personnel at the gate who ordered everyone to vacate immediately.

Annet Namutebi, a resident of Namugongo reasoned that the area was too big and it could accommodate a few hundred people without compromising social distancing. Namutebi said she had come to pray for intercession through the martyrs to arrest the current situation.    

//Cue in; "Siri ku list...

Cue out...nokunoonya edagala."//    

Fred Masaba, the Officer in charge of Kira police station, who is also manning security at the Catholic Shrine, insisted that he is under instructions to only allow in invited guests.   

//Cue in; "If someone comes...      

Cue out...at the church."//    

After being turned away, several people decided to stand on the perimeter wall of the shrines to say their prayers and follow the celebrations.

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