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Karibu! – Welcome to East Africa – Pope Francis #PopeInUganda

By Diaryofamuzungu @CharlieBeau

Karibu! – and welcome to East Africa! – Pope Francis. #PopeInKenya #PopeInUganda

The Pope has landed in East Africa! Now in Kenya, this Friday 27th November, Uganda will welcome Pope Francis, here to celebrate 50 years of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs, a group of young Catholic, Protestant and – now it is believed – Muslim men who were killed in 1886.

A few facts that make Pope Francis sound like a man worth listening to:

Pope Francis is the first Pope to be born outside Europe since Pope Gregory, a Syrian, who was appointed in 731.

He is a man of simple tastes who shuns limousines for regular saloon cars.

When asked about the status of gay people in the clergy, his response has been a tolerant “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and he has his good will, who am I to judge?”

Apparently he doesn’t like going to the historical papal home of Rome as it represents “the heart of everything he believed the Church should not be: luxury, ostentation, hypocrisy, bureaucracy.”

I look forward to hearing what he has to say to Ugandans.

This lapsed Catholic never quite made it to First Communion but I have huge respect for a man who seems so dignified, pragmatic and approachable. Not only does he tolerate simplicity, he seeks it out. I wish those vulgar and ostentatious American preachers that are broadcast on Ugandan TV every Sunday could have one tenth of Pope Francis’ humility.

Karibu! – welcome to East Africa – Pope Francis #PopeInUganda

“Women ask questions that men just don’t get.” Interesting to hear what Pope Francis will say to the people of Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic on his first visit to East Africa

On his two day stay in Uganda, his programme will include a two-hour mass at Namugongo, scene of the killing of the Martyrs.

Here is a copy of his full programme and the official press release about the Pope’s Uganda visit.

Pope Francis visits East Africa. The Uganda programme

Pope Francis visits East Africa. The Uganda programme

On June 3 1886, the day many Christians were burnt to death at Namuwongo, Father Simeon Lourdel, Missionary of Africa wrote this letter . “Some twenty of our best and most influential young men who are learning the Catechism have just been either burnt at the stake or slaughtered and their bodies cut into pieces on the grounds that they deserve death for following the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others have been odiously mutilated or savagely beaten with sticks. A certain number of them are still in prison and are everyday subjected to refined tortures by cruel executioners who have a gift for inventing new torments.”

model of the burning of the Namugongo Martyrs

In 1886 the Namugongo Martyrs were burned alive

Opinions vary as to exactly why these young men were ordered to be killed. It seems their crime was having the strength to stand up for themselves, bolstered by their new-found religious beliefs. Christianity represented a threat to the prevailing system: it forbade polygamist marriage, it promoted better treatment of women and slaves. Christian worship forbade the veneration of the lubaale (spirits of the ancestors). All of these factors and more were perceived as an affront to the authority of the Kabaka (King of Buganda Kingdom) and the ruling class. Furthermore, some believed the Christian missionaries were the forerunners of people intent upon ‘eating their country.’

The fact is, these young men (some just teenagers) endured horrific torture, dismemberment, flogging and unspeakable brutality before finally being burnt alive.

If the story of the Uganda Martyrs interests you, read ‘All roads to Namugongo,’ about the inaugural Uganda Martyrs Walk and the brilliant book about the White Fathers (missionaries from France). In case you would like to see a copy of the DVD story I helped put together for the Uganda Tourism Board, please contact the Muzungu.

Photographer at the Namugongo Basilica, Catholic Martyrs Shrine

Photographer at the Namugongo Basilica, Catholic Martyrs Shrine

The 22 Ugandans who were burnt to death at Namugongo were canonised by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. It is now believed that the total number killed may have been much higher than 22. Keep reading Diary of a Muzungu in 2016 for information on a new book about Uganda’s Catholic, Protestant and Muslim Martyrs.


#PopeInKenya, #PopeInUganda, Buganda, Kenya, Namugongo Martyrs, Pope Francis, Uganda

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