By Moses Odokonyero
Christians from various faith traditions have assembled at Namirembe to begin the St Janani Luwum Pilgrimage 2020 that will see them walk 510 kms from Kampala to Muchwini in Kitgum district.
Archbishop Luwum was murdered on February 16, 1977 at Nakasero by Uganda president Idi Amin. Luwum was head of the Anglican ecclesiastical province, then composed of four countries (Burundi, Eastern Congo, Rwanda and Uganda).
Patrons of the pilgrimage
Patrons for the Pilgrimage are His Grace, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali; the Chief Justice, Justice Bart M. Katureebe; the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga; and the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
The Christians gathered at Namirembe are from various faith traditions.
The Pilgrimage is an initiative of the Church of Uganda but Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostals, Born-Again, Baptists are participating in the historic journey of faith
“The purpose of the pilgrimage is to retrace the spiritual and historical meaning and milestones of Archbishop Janani’s searing martyrdom,’’ said His Grace, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. ‘‘It is thanksgiving for his extraordinary witness and example”.
The walk starts from the Palace of the Archbishop at Namirembe which will also serve as the first Station of the Cross. But pilgrims began gathering at Namirembe on 28 January for a service of blessing where they stayed overnight. The pilgrimage aims at tracing the final journey of Luwum step-by-step, exactly as it occurred in February 1977. It begins at Namirembe and ends at the martyr’s gravesite at Wii Gweng in Mucwini, Kitgum district.
The pilgrims will walk from Namirembe to the second Station of the Cross, which is Serena Kampala. From Serena, the next stop is the third Station of the Cross, which is Nakasero. After Nakasero, the pilgrims will proceed to Bombo Road, where they will join the national highway heading north.
The Pilgrimage route passes through Luweero, Kigumba, Karuma, Kamdini, Gulu, Kitgum and then makes a loop at Madi Opei. The distance for the full Pilgrimage is 510 kilometers. Pilgrims will cover an average of 37 kilometers a day. There will be 15 days of actual walking. The full Pilgrimage will last 17 days because of 2 days of rest in-between (Sunday 2 February & Sunday 9 February). The pilgrims will arrive at Wii Gweng, Mucwini, on 14 February, where the annual commemoration of St Janani Luwum Day takes place at Wii Gweng on 16 February.
All pilgrims, regardless of their localities of residence, who are able to do so, are encouraged to begin the Pilgrimage from the beginning at Namirembe, and finish at Wii Gweng, Mucwini. Tracing the final journey of Luwum, exactly as it occurred, is a key goal and unique feature of this Pilgrimage.
Joining the Pilgrimage along the way
For faithful’s who feel called to participate in the Pilgrimage but, for various factors, are unable to do the full journey—they can still join in the Pilgrimage, by covering a portion of the journey, to the extent of their availability and possibility. However, it is important that all mid-way pilgrims register and join the Pilgrimage at designated entry points. The following are the designated entry points along the route, where mid-way pilgrims can join in the journey: Luweero; Migeera; Kigumba; Kamdini; Gulu; Atanga; Acoli-bur; Kitgum ; Mucwini ; and Madi Opei .
For the faithful in the greater Kampala area ( who are not able to join the full Pilgrimage ) , are welcome to assemble at Namirembe in the early morning of 29 January ( 6 : 00 am ) ; they can then join the Pilgrimage for the first and second Stations of the Cross and the first lap to Bombo ( or at least Kawempe or Bwaise !) .
Financial & food contribution
Each full pilgrim (i.e. Namirembe – Mucwini) is required to make a minimum contribution of 75,000 shillings to defray the costs of the Pilgrimage. A mid-way pilgrim is required to contribute 30,000 shillings. Depending on the number of sponsors who offer support, some full pilgrims will benefit from sponsorship. Each full pilgrim is required to contribute 5 kilos of beans or pigeon peas, and 3 kilos of sugar. A mid-way pilgrim is required to contribute 3 kilos of beans or pigeon peas, and 2 kilos of sugar.
Sponsor the pilgrims programme (SPP)
Many pilgrims may not be able to contribute meaningfully to defraying the costs of the Pilgrimage. All persons who can do so are urged to offer generous support and sponsor as many pilgrims as possible. The subsidized amount required for sponsoring one pilgrim is Shs150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand shillings). It is hoped that most sponsors will give much more generously than the minimum required, as the actual amount needed to support a pilgrim is much higher. The full budget for the Pilgrimage is 335 million shillings (Shillings 335,000,000).
Mobile money accounts for sponsors
Airtel and MTN dedicated mobile money accounts are operational, as of Sunday, 19 January, for sponsors and donors, who wish to support the Pilgrimage. Sponsors and donors should deposit their contributions directly on these accounts (but not on private accounts of individuals). For MTN, the code is JANANI and the name is ST JANANI LUWUM MEMORIAL. For AIRTEL, after dialing *185*9#, then a sponsor should enter the following business number: 1143493.
Overnight rest stations
There are 15 overnight rest stations along the route. Typically, these are nearby primary schools and churches, with correct but very basic facilities. The first overnight station, on 29 January, will be St Janani Schools in Bombo. The last overnight station (before Wii Gweng) will be Madi Opei Primary School on 13 February.
Edited by David Tumusiime