Uganda, Kampala

Thousands of Christians from Uganda and around the world converged at Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo on Friday to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs Day with prayers for peace in Ukraine and skyrocketing global commodity prices.

In a special prayer session at the Anglican shrine, Bishop Henry Katumba Tamale, of West Buganda Diocese in central Uganda, asked the Lord to intervene with regard to the rising commodity prices. Katumba noted that Uganda, like many other counties, has never experienced such high fuel and commodity prices as the situation is today.

Uganda Anglican Bishops Martyrs Day

Anglican bishops arrive at the Namugongo Anglican Shrine to commemorate Uganda Martyrs' Day. PICTURE: Jimmy Siyasa.

In Uganda, fuel prices have doubled from about $US1 per litre in January to $US2 starting February. The prices of other commodities such as soap, sugar, wheat, and milk have also shot up, leaving many Ugandans on the brink of sliding into poverty. 

Bishop Katumba noted that the high fuel and commodity prices could be the reason why many Christians had not turned up for this year’s Martyrs’ Day celebrations.

In his Easter message in April, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, also lamented about the high commodity prices. 

UGANDAN POLICE ARREST PASTOR WHO DISAPPEARED WITH HIS FLOCK TWO WEEKS AGO

Police in Uganda have arrested a pastor who disappeared with 20 members of his flock two weeks ago, throwing the relatives of the missing persons into total panic.

 Police said on 23rd May they had launched a manhunt for the Pastor Samuel Kalibala after he fled with his flock to an unknown destination. According to police, the missing persons were all residents of Naama Central Village in Mityana Municipality in central Uganda. 

Police identified some of the missing persons as five members of the family of Sulait Kintu including his four children and wife, Jessica Namuwanya, 47. Police have since found all the missing persons and arrested several people including the pastor. 

Rachael Kawala, police spokesperson for Wamala Region in central Uganda, confirmed Pastor Kalibala was arrested on Friday, 27th May. The police have since charged him with aggravated human trafficking.

Kawala said investigations are ongoing. She revealed that before the pastor was arrested, five of the missing persons resurfaced and reported to Mityana Central Police station on 26th May. 

- JOHN SEMAKULA

“I feel pain in my heart because of the increasing commodity prices,” Kaziimba said. He added that some people in Uganda "have gone to the extent of stealing and killing others for money as the situation worsens".

"It’s a challenging situation but believe and trust in the Lord. Repent and look for better ways of making money.”

Kazimba appealled to the government to intervene and save Ugandans from the burden of the high commodity prices. However, in President Yoweri Museveni’s Labour Day message on 1st May, he said nothing much could be done to solve the problem of high commodity prices in Uganda and advised Ugandans who could not afford bread due to the high wheat prices to eat cassava. 

“If there is no bread eat cassava,” he said. “Ugandans really confuse themselves. If you are complaining that there is no bread or wheat, please eat muwogo [cassava]. I don’t eat bread myself.” 

He blamed the war in Ukraine for the high global commodity prices.

Meanwhile, at the Catholic Shrine on Friday, Gervase Ndyanabo, president of the Uganda National Catholic Council of Lay Apostolate, prayed for peace in Ukraine and other parts of the world.

“I invite you to pray for peace in the world,” Ndyanabo said. “Let’s pray for peace in Ukraine and Russia. May God soften the hearts of the leaders of these countries so that they may seek peace rather than war to resolve their differences. There is no justification for war in Ukraine.”

Ukraine was invaded by Russia in late February and has been under heavy bombardment by Russian soldiers in a war that has left thousands dead and millions displaced. 

Ndyanabo asked Christians to strive to become instruments of peace through the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs beginning in their homes to their communities.

“For every one of us, let’s do self-examination. Are you part of the solution? He asked, “Think about the way you relate to others and the words you use.”



During the mass at the Catholic shrine, the main celebrant, Bishop Robert Muhiirwa of Fort Portal Diocese, urged Christians not to despair because of the high commodity prices and other life’s challenges.

"We are not alone. The Lord is with us. He was with the Uganda Martyrs to sustain them during their tribulation.”

In his remarks towards the end of the mass, the Catholic Archbishop of Kampala, Paul Ssemogerere, reminded Christians that the prophetic nature of their identity with God requires them to be active participants in making the message of Christ known rather than being spectators.

“The Uganda Martyrs whom we are celebrating today gave us an example,” he said after reminding the congregation about the Day’s theme which was “Baptised and Sent to Witness Jesus Christ with Love and Hope".

The Uganda Martyrs’ Day is celebrated annually on 3rd June to remember the 45 young Ugandan men who, after surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ between 1885 and 1887, were killed on orders of King Mwanga of Buganda Kingdom who saw their conversion to Christianity as a threat to his reign.

The men were herded to Namugongo and speared to death as they praised the Lord before their bodies were burnt to ashes. Their brutal murder helped in spreading Christianity, not only in Africa but also in the parts of the world.

Every year before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, thousands of pilgrims would trek hundreds of kilometres from within Uganda and beyond to join the Martyrs’ Day celebrations at the Martyrs Shrines. However, in 2020, the big celebrations were suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The celebrations have resumed this year.