Many times people from walks of life visit Namungongo to compliment the Uganda safari but we must say the place is worth a visit. The compound is well lawn and decorated with over 1000 seats, the lake with in the compound is in commemoration of the good works of Charles Lwanga with the Kabaka Mwanga, and believers say the water fetched from the lake heal many diseases, the magnificent architectural design of the shrine in the middle looks like a mini Basilica.3rd June is the time of the year when Christian believers converge to commemorate the martyrdom believers. The Uganda Martyrs were a group of 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda, who were executed between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887 therefore 3rd June Uganda Martyrs’ Day is a day to commemorate the martyrdom of 45, mostly young, Ugandan men who converted to Christianity between the years 1885 and 1887. The conversions so outraged the then King of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga II that he ordered the converts to be burnt to death. In our article we discuss more facts about martyr’s day. 3rd June was declared a public holiday in the history of Uganda to commemorate the martyrs. It is estimated that over 10000 pilgrims all over the world come to Namugogo on that day.
The 22 Catholic Martyrs were canonized on 18 October 1964 by Blessed Pope Paul VI in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Bishops from all over the world who had gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council witnessed the canonization of these African martyrs.
23 of the martyrs were Anglicans or belonged to the Church of England. The Catholic martyrs are often celebrated together with the Anglican martyrs. In fact, at Namugongo, the Catholic and the Anglican shrines are next to each other.
Thirty-one prisoners, excluding Charles Lwanga were burnt in the great holocaust at Namugongo on Ascension Thursday, 3 June 1886. Of these, twelve are officially recognized as Catholic martyrs. They are Achilles Kiwanuka, Ludigo, Ambrose Kibuuka, Anatoli Kiriggwajjo, Gyavira, James Buzalilwaya, Kizito, Luke Bunabakintu, Mbaaga Tuzinde Muggaga and Mukasa Kiriwawanvu nine are officially recognized by the Anglicans. It has generally been assumed that the remaining ten were pagans, who had been in prison and under sentence of death for offences other than religion.
Then between 25 May and 3 June 1886, a wider series of executions were carried out. Mwanga instructed the killing of all the young men who disobeyed him – partly to satisfy the demands of the older chiefs. Twenty-two of the men, who had converted to Catholicism, were burned alive at Namugongo in 1886. Literally thousands of pilgrims gather at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo to commemorate Martyrs Day every 3rd June of the year.
Namungongo has not only developed as the religious pilgrimage but also a one stop tourist attraction in Uganda.