Uganda’s Janani Luwum, Murdered By Amin, Honored As 20th Century Martyr


Archbishop Luwum — murdered by Gen. Amin

GULU, Uganda–Ugandans have set 16th February 2015 as the day when they will converge at Wii Gweng, Mucwini in Kitgum district, for the first time, for a pilgrimage, prayer, celebrations and to honor the late Archbishop Janani Luwum who was murdered by the late Dictator Idi Amin in 1977 after for years he had courageously denounced his regime’s atrocities.

In 1988, Westminster Abbey, the seat of Anglican Communion unveiled St. Janani Luwum’s statue, as one of the 10 martyrs of the 20th Century. This followed a Canterbury Cathedral’s dedication of a special Chapel, 20th Century Martyrs Chapel to the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum in 1978 and the memory of other modern martyrs.

Some of the 20th Century martyrs recognized by Westminster Abbey include: Maximillan Kolbe, Catholic of Poland; Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist, of the U.S.;  Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Lutheran from Germany; Archbishop Oscar Romero, Catholic from El Salvador; and, Archbishop Janani Luwum, Anglican from Uganda.

We must ensure that Saint Janani Luwum, hero from the Christian Faith and a giant leader, is not forgotten in his homeland of Uganda” reads a flier for the occasion in part.

Around the world, there is great devotion to St. Janani Luwum. In many countries and churches, there is devoted celebration of his life, testimony, martyrdom and example.

This year’’s celebration will be significantly expanded and will be the first annual international celebration and recognition of Archbishop Janani Luwum as a man, a Christian, a leader, a family man, and a martyr.

A Charity has been formed with four eminent Archbishops as patrons. They are: Stanley Ntagali (Church of Uganda); John Baptist Odama (Roman Catholic of Gulu Archdiocese); Dr. John Sentamu; (Archbishop of York, Church of England); and, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa).

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of The St. Janani Luwum Memorial Charity is the Governor of Bank of Uganda, Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile. His members include: Hon. Justice James Ogoola; Hon. Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, from South Sudan and widow of the late John Garang; Hon. Senator, Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o from Kenya; and, Dr. Martin Alliker.

Over 20,000 pilgrims from the Great Lakes region are expected to grace the occasion where Chief Guest will be President Yoweri Museveni.

The Committee organizing the event are expecting to raise 1.6 billion Uganda shillings for the day’s event.

Who is St. Janani Luwum?

St. Janani Luwum hails from the northern part of Uganda. He was born in 1922 to Eliya Okello, the father and Aireni Aciro Okello, in Pujong sub-clan, one of the clans of Acholi ethnic group of the Central Lwo (Luo) of the Nile Valley.

He trained as a teacher and actually taught in various primary schools before enrolling for the Church Ministry. He was  converted a seed of the East African Revival in January 1948 when he accepted Jesus as his personal Savior. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Upper Nile. He went for further studies in the Ministry at Augustine’s College, Canterbury and London School of Divinity, now St. John’s College, Nottingham.

St. Janani Luwum held several positions in the Church including the following: He was the Principal, Buwalasi Theological College, Provincial Secretary of the Province of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga Zaire –now Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo– from 1966 to 1969, Bishop of he Diocese of Northern Uganda from 1969 to 1974 and Archbishop of the Province of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Nurundi and Boga Zaire from 1974 to 1977.

He was murdered by Amin on 16th February 1977.

He was buried three days later at the grave yard of St. Paul’s Church at Wii Gweng, Mucwini, 15 miles away East of Kitgum town in his native community.

He was blessed with a wife, Mary Luwum, and they had nine children; only 7 are alive today.

One of his granddaughters is a priest with the Diocese of Kitgum.


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