The Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo is a religious site located in Kira Municipality Wakiso District. Uganda Martyrs shrine was set at Namugongo in commeration of 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic christian converts that were killed by the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom when they refused to denounce their Christian faith.
The arrival of christian missionaries, i. e the Catholics and Anglicans in Buganda Kingdom which is now the larger Uganda made the stage for developments but also became turning point in religious life among the people. The untimaly death of Kabaka Mutesa I in 1884, which was few years after arrival of missionaries, turned Mutesa’s son Mwanga II to be the Kabaka of Buganda. After Mwanga taking over the powers, he did not like christians as a religion because it was generally changing believers from their traditional practices and style of praying.
Kabaka Mwanga (king) could see the new flock of believers as rebals. This is because they were transferring their loyality to new religious systems, thus abondoning their old tribal traditionl styles. Mwanga at first had shown some love of missionaries like his father but after becoming the king, his personal atitude changed.
He become untolerant and persecuter of all christian converts and other foreigners. This was because he saw it on other way round that the powers and all authority his predecessors had enjoyed were dwelling. This was due to the influence of the missionaries together with their converts.
In otherwards, the christian converts had diverted their loyality to some other authority. Therefore it was after a year since Mwanga took over the throne that he orderd the excution of Yusufu Rugarama, Mark Kakumaba and Noah Serwanga. These were the first christian martyrs to be Killed. This happened at Busega in Natete on 31 January 1885.
The Anglican Bishop Hannington‘s death followed who was murdered in Busoga on his way to Buganda. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe who was Mwanga’s senior advisor and catholic convert condemned the orders of Mwanga to kill Hannington without allowing Bishop Hannington a chance to defend himself as it was the customery way of handling issues. This Annoyed King Mwanga who thought that Mukasa shouldn’t have questioned his actions, he then ordered his arrest and killing. From there, other christian converts were also ordered to be persecuted, some were burnt live.
The Kampala City tour takes you to this beautiful site called Uganda Martyrs shrine to learn about these christian converts how they were excuted between 1885 and 1887. Uganda martyrs shrine at Namugongo is known to be one of the largest christian pilgrimage site in Africa. Every 3rd June each year is declared a public holiday in Uganda to remember those great martyrs.
Thousands of Christians flock the Uganda martyrs shrine at Namugongo from all over the world to partake the faith that these great people of God showed. Catholic church built a basilica in honor of the martyrs and it is built in a dome shape to depict the traditional huts. Today pulpit of the catholic basilica sits at the exact spot where Charles Lwanga was burnt.
The Uganda Martyrs shrine Namugongo is about 15 km away from Kampala City center, off Jinja road. Traveling to Namugongo, you will turn off left at Kireka next to the shell fuel station, follow the paved road. At the next cross junction, turn right. The Martyrs Shrine Namugongo will be in 100m on left side of the road.