The Uganda Association of Northern Ireland, through the secretary Fr Charles Lwanga Kaweesi, welcomes all friends of Uganda and Africa to Uganda Day Celebrations on 3 June, starting at 4 pm at St Mary’s University College in Belfast. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs.
Fr Charles said:
“Our aim is to share faith and joy with our brothers and sisters here in Northern Ireland through celebrations and food, which are strong values in African Culture. This day means a lot for us as a community here; that despite the dark days of our country we have continued to journey together as one family, despite the different beliefs.”
Bishop of Down and Conor, Noel Treanor, will lead mass at 4 pm. Leaders from other Christian denominations will be present. Mass will be followed by a time for music and dancing before a keynote address by Laura Coulter, the Irish Churches Peace Project’s Good Relations Officer for Greater Belfast, on “Faith: A Call to Love.” There will also be a time for sharing traditional food.
Fr Charles has provided the following information about the Uganda Martyrs:
The martyrs of Uganda are venerated as proto-martyrs of Black Africa. The cruelty against Christians by Mwanga king of Buganda stretched from 1885 to 1888 when he himself died. The first to be killed was the Anglican Bishop, James Hannington and when the leader of the catholic converts, a page in the palace, Joseph Mukasa openly accused the King for murdering the Bishop, it sparked off the persecution of all the converts to Christianity and Mukasa was beheaded on November 1885. Then followed several killings and 22 Catholics were killed and 24 protestants. The Catholic martyrs were beatified in 1920 and Canonised in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, who five years later became the first Pope to visit the then Black continent as it was known.
“A well that has many sources never runs dry, and when we are gone, others will come after us.” (Bruno Serunkuma).
We are celebrating this day as a Christian family of many denominations, remembering that in Uganda, these young people were all one, during the terrible persecutions, as children of one Father. May this day be a new beginning to see in the eyes of the other the image of our loving God.