KAMPALA – For years, June 3, has attracted throngs of faithful and tourism enthusiasts to pay homage to the 45 Uganda Martyrs that laid their lives for the sake of Christianity.
Experts argue that with the sites of the execution of the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic Martyrs revered internationally, kin attention should be paid to their development to boost religious tourism.
Daniel Kiribwije, an export trade specialist advises that all energies should not only be concentrated on June 3.
He suggests that the country can make much more money beyond Martyrs Day celebrations through religious tourism arguing that it was one of the fastest growing travel segments.
It is upon such a background that the Uganda Tourism Board(UTB) has bolstered efforts to market the Martyrs Day. UTB handed over shs96m to the Catholic Church to support preparations for the Martyrs Day on Thursday.
While handing over the cheque to
the Archbishop of Gulu Diocese John Baptist Odama and the secretary general
Uganda Episcopal Conference John Baptist Kauta, UTB deputy chief executive
officer, Bradford Ocieng said UTB will support increased visibility of the
Uganda Martyrs to benefit religious tourism.
This was during the last briefing on the progress of the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations as the journey to Namugongo shortened to 10 days.
The Archdiocese of Gulu, was chosen by the Uganda Episcopal Conference to animate the 2019 Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations at the Catholic Martyrs shrine.
Describing Namugongo as the biggest destination for religious pilgrims in African, Ocieng said: “Religious pilgrims come with a lot of economic potentials and our target is to ensure that they visit Uganda all the time.
We shall continue to work with the Church to achieve this by increasing the visibility of Uganda Martyrs through using tools within us.”
Archbishop Odama, who commended UTB for the support, revealed that all was set for successful celebrations. He, however, noted that half of the budget was unfunded, appealing for more support from well-wishers.
Sh900m was projected to fund the celebrations, through financing liturgical activities, health readiness, accommodation, transport, communication, and publicity, among others.
Only sh486m has been raised according to Odama as many pledges were unmet. He thanked the government for the support of sh80m.
“We have been able to prepare for this day through retreats, recollections, pilgrimages and daily recitation of special prayer composed for the celebration.
These spiritual activities have enabled our people to reflect more deeply on the celebration theme and the life of the Uganda Martyrs and to pray for the success of the celebration,” Odama added.
Odama said a number of climaxing activities have been lined up and they include the Uganda Martyrs novena prayers that will start on May 25 and end on June 2.
“There will be daily novena prayers at the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine and other parishes,” he said.
The Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, will preside over as the chief walker at a Walk of Faith from Munyonyo Martyrs Shrine to St. Matia Mulumba Church in Old Kampala.
Together with the Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Odama and Ruganda will flag off the walk at 8:00 am and it will conclude with a mass at St. Mulumba starting at 2:00 pm.
According to Odama, on June 2, several vigil masses will be held at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine. While on June 3, celebrations and mass will kick off at 9:00 am.
Pilgrims: Louis Patrick Lamot, in charge of protocol and publicity, disclosed that a desk has been set up to receive and ensure the pilgrims received treatment on arrival to Namugongo. He said over 300 pilgrims who set off at St.Joseph in Gulu on May 15, were approaching Kampala, over 680 were walking from Lira, 50 from West Nile, and many others on their way from other regions.