By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus – Every 3rd of June, Uganda celebrates Martyrs' Day and this year was the same. However, unlike the previous years whereby flocks of people (in 2019, more than 3 million people are reported to have attended) would gather at the Namugongo Shrine, this year's celebrations were mainly virtual.
This is due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which started last year leading to a mostly virtual celebration of the day in 2020. A similar scenario happened yesterday as only 200 people were officially invited to attend among whom was the Katikiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga.
The celebrations are led in turns by different dioceses in Uganda and this time, Masaka Diocese led by Bishop Serverus Jjumba presided over the 2021 Martyrs Day Eucharistic celebrations.
In his words, Bishop Jjumba said that “This year, we assemble under exceptional circumstances. A slim number of the faithful are here physically. The multitudes are at home in virtual attendance. Not that they wished to stay away and watch television or listen to radios or indeed switch on social media platforms. No, it is because the Covid-19 pandemic has dictated and forced us into this terrible situation. We look like the dismembered body of Christ. We are scattered, but it would not be right to say we are in disarray.”
However, the Bishop of Masaka, who characterized this year’s celebration as lukewarm, instructed the faithful to accept the somber celebrations as the will of God.
“It is the same God calling us in these two years (of Covid-19) to move away from the ordinary merry-making, the pomp, and ululations with which many of us celebrate June 3 – the day of commemorating the Uganda Martyrs,” he said.
Bishop Jjumba added that “Let this sadness, lukewarm-ness, this kind of emptiness reassert itself into a vibrancy for the crucified Lord. In this apparent mood of desolation, let us grow fresh vigor for our faith just as scripture says, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”