UGANDA: ‘Uganda is a Land of Martyrs,’ Museveni Emphasizes Martyrs Day Significance Reaffirms Stance on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

By Wesley Omondi

NAMUGONGO, JUNE 7, 2024 (CISA)— Thousands of pilgrims thronged the Namugogo Catholic Martyrs shrine in Kampala, Uganda, to attend the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations in honour of the 22 Catholic Martyrs killed between 1885 and 1887 on June 3, 2024.

The annual fete was attended by President Yoweri Museveni who used the occasion to issue a stern warning to promoters of homosexuality in the country. In his speech at Namugongo, he emphasized Uganda will not tolerate homosexual practices, linking the country’s stance to its historical and cultural heritage.

“Uganda is a country of martyrs and those people who are just talking outside there like on the issue of homosexuality; they don’t know that Uganda is a land of martyrs,” President Museveni declared.

“If you want to play around do so but you will not like what you will see,” he added, underscoring the country’s firm stance.

Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations at the Namugongo Shrine in Kamapala.

Coming on the backdrop of the recent international backlash Uganda has faced due to its anti-homosexuality laws, the celebrations presented an opportunity for Museveni to cement his support base among the Catholic faithful in Uganda who have equally supported the bill, which is viewed as the harshest against the LGBTQ persons in the world.

Western nations, including Britain and the United States, have imposed sanctions on senior Ugandan officials, including Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, following the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Additionally, the World Bank has suspended funding for critical projects in Uganda in response to the law, which the government defends as a measure to protect traditional marriage and cultural values.

During the celebrations, President Museveni, represented by Speaker Anita Among at the Anglican Church in Namugongo, reiterated the importance of adhering to Godliness and humanity. He reflected on the story of the Uganda Martyrs as a testament to the enduring power of correct and progressive ideas anchored in Christian teachings.

“Some people have tried to fight new and dynamic ideas. However, history has taught us that if an idea is correct and progressive it will eventually triumph. The teachings of Christianity are beneficial for every individual and society,” stated Museveni.

He further explained that the fear of God instills virtues such as honesty, integrity, and self-control, and deters individuals from engaging in corrupt and evil practices.

The Martyrs Day celebrations, themed “As for me and my household we shall serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), also served as a platform for Museveni to commend religious leaders for denouncing sectarianism and promoting national unity. Reflecting on the past, he noted, “Ugandans were divided according to tribes and religion and this was part of the chaos which engulfed Uganda; it was due to that sectarianism of religion and tribe but when we came you opposed this very firmly.”

This year’s celebration was animated by the Catholic Diocese of Nebbi in Northwestern Uganda. Archbishop-elect of the Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu and the bishop of Nebbi Rt Rev Raphael P’Mony Wokorach presided over the Eucharistic celebration, which was concelebrated by a score of bishops and priests.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was the guest of honour at this year’s Martyrs Day celebrations. Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were Ugandan legislators, cultural leaders, and heads of different political parties.