Uganda Martyrs Day

Uganda Martyrs Day

June 3
On June 3, 1886, the country of Uganda's first Christian converts were executed in the town of Namugongo. Then known as Buganda, the country had just begun attracting the attention of Catholic and Anglican missionaries. Sons of many of the region's leading families had converted to Christianity. The king of Buganda, Mwanga II, saw this conversion as a sign of treachery against his authority. He arrested 45 of the young Christian men and had them brought to him at Namugongo. When the converts refused to renounce their faith, they were burned alive on a funeral pyre.
To commemorate the event, Christian pilgrims from all over Uganda journey to Namugongo and the town's Anglican church. In 2003, an estimated 800,000 pilgrims participated in the event. Uganda's vice-president and other high-ranking officials also attended.
During the reign of Uganda's dictator Idi Amin, a Muslim, another massacre of the 19th century was also commemorated. Amin was angered that a massacre of some 70 Muslims in 1857 had never been honored or officially remembered, so he had a small mosque erected across the road from the Anglican church in Namugongo. Amin was ousted from power in 1979 before he could complete a planned larger mosque. Soldiers of his successor, Obote II, reportedly slaughtered pigs on the site, desecrating the land and rendering it unsuitable for Muslim religious activities.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda
5911 16th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20011
202-726-7100; fax: 202-726-1727
www.ugandaembassy.com
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