Five families have donated 93.7 acres of land to the Church of Uganda for the development of the St Janani Luwum Memorial and Pilgrim site at Wii Gweng in Kitgum district.
‘‘We made the donation as a contribution towards having a befitting commemoration of St Janani Luwum commensurate with his leadership, contribution and sacrifice for Uganda and the world,’’ said Moses Denyeko, Chairman of the land donors. The land was formally handed over to the Diocese of Kitgum on August 15, 2021.
The Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum the Rt. Rev. Wilson Kitara said “St. Janani Luwum was a servant of God who had a great impact on the community. He had a clear vision and commitment to development particularly in the fields of spiritual growth, education for church workers, empowerment of women, poverty reduction, and rural development. Indeed, one of the fruits of his vision and enterprise is the St. Janani Luwum House situated in the middle of Kampala City”.
The Bishop further said “Now with the land issues solved, the Church will continue to engage fruitfully with the Government of Uganda and other stakeholders on St. Janani Luwum Memorial and Pilgrimage site development and also pursue on the pledge made by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni”.
News of the donation has been warmly received by Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, former Prime Minister who is also Co- Chair, National Organisating Committee of the St Janani Luwum Memorial.
‘‘I welcome the donation and thank the families for their generosity to the worthy cause of imortalising the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum,’’ said Dr Ruhakana Rugunda adding that St Janani Luwum is a cause that ‘‘deserves the support of all people of goodwill’’.
Dr Rugunda praised the close cooperation between the government, the church, and the local community in their work for the St Janani Luwum Memorial.
Ambassador Olara Otunnu, also Co- Chair of the memorial equally praised the families for the donation and urged stakeholders to move quickly with the memorial project.
“This is wonderful news and of great import for the Memorial Project at Wii Gweng. I am thrilled and humbled by this remarkable demonstration of generosity and devotion to the sacred memory of St Janani. I now appeal to all stakeholders to move quickly and build on this momentum,’’ Ambassador Otunnu said.
On Thursday last week, the Synod of Kitgum diocese received two reports from Moses Denyeko, Chairman of the land donors and Ambassador Otunnu on the donated land and proposed plans for development of WiiGweng respectively.
The Master Plan for the development of the Wii Gweng was unveiled and presented at Wii Gweng on the 40th anniversary commemoration on 16 February 2017. Phase one of the plan, the center piece of the project, will include construction of a tomb for St Janani Luwum, his statue, a prayer arena, site boundary, a gateway and pilgrims’ approach.
Phase two consists of five structures including a Memorial Museum, a High Polytechnic, a new primary school, new secondary school, vendors park and Mama Mary Luwum Hospital while phase three will consist of construction of structures and spaces that will provide support services to pilgrims and tourists. These include accommodation, conference facilities, restaurants, and recreational spaces. Phase four will focus on building St Janani Luwum University.
Janani Luwum was the Anglican Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province, then covering a large swathe of the Great Lakes region of Africa. The province comprised four countries—Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Boga-Zaire), Rwanda and Uganda.
He was murdered on 16 February 1977 on account of his outspoken preaching, unflinching stand for human rights and growing popularity across Uganda. He is buried at the Church yard at Wii- Gweng, Mucwini sub county, Kitgum district.
In 1978, St. Janani’s martyrdom was accorded a rare recognition by Canterbury Cathedral with the dedication of 20th Century Martyrs Chapel. This was followed by a statue erected in his honour at London’s Westminster Abbey, in 1998. In Uganda, February 16 is a public holiday in his honour.