UGANDA: NAMUGONGO TO BE TURNED INTO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

KAMPALA, Sept 12 — The Ugandan government has set up a ten-man committee for the rehabilitation of the two Namugongo Martyrs’ shrines, which will include tarmacking the access road infrastructure.

Information and National Guidance Minister Rosemary Namayanja told the press at the media centre yesterday that Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting endorsed the committee to be chaired by General duties minister in the Office of Prime Minister Tarsis Kabwegyere.

It will include Tourism, Wild life and Antiquities minister Maria Mutagamba, Internal affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, Works and transport Minister Abraham Byandaala, Water and environment minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu.

Other members are Lands, Housing and urban development minister Daudi Migereko, Energy and mineral development minister Irene Muloni, and that of Health Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

The others are Finance, Planning and economic development minister Maria Kiwanuka, and the Chairperson of the National Planning Authority Kisamba Mugerwa.

“Government decided to upgrade Namugongo Martyrs shrines into a worship and tourism site of global repute. The objective is to develop conclusive facilities at the site for worshippers, pilgrims and tourists.”

“The comprehensive plan is to refurbish and expand the facilities as a blue print for the rehabilitation of such sites,” the Cabinet document read.

Among other upgrading activities, she added, is the upgrading and expansion of the narrow and often congested road network to and around the shrines.

“The buildings and sanitation facilities will be refurbished, while security systems are to be enhanced. Considering the growing significance of tourism to Uganda’s economy, the infrastructural improvements at Namugongo will be undertaken under an inter-agency arrangement with close over-sight by cabinet,” Namayanja said.

Namugongo has two Martyrs’ shrines, a Catholic and Protestant one. President Yoweri Museveni pledged sh 400m to the project expected to consume a total of over sh36 billion.

The cabinet sub-committee, she added, will explore and review the aspects that require refurbishment and guide the technical teams to ensure that the facilities and infrastructure are appropriately improved.

One of the committee members told New Vision yesterday that they will start with reviewing the current status of the two shrines, explore options for re-development and make recommendations to pave way for upgrading them into a “world class tourist destination”.

During a tour of the shrines in May to launch the refurbishment plans, Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, and his Church of Uganda counterpart Stanley Ntagali toured and broke ground for the foundation of the Uganda Martyrs Museum estimated to cost sh36b.

As part of the activities to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3, the Christian leaders accompanied by several other bishops of both the Catholic and Anglican faiths, also paid homage to both the Catholic and Anglican martyrs’ shrines, located in Namugongo.

The clerics toured the execution sites, first at the Catholic Shrine, and second at the Anglican Shrine. Stanley Ntagali preached at the Catholic Shrine, and Cyprian Kizito Lwanga at the Anglican Shrine.

The Rev. Fr. Joseph Mukasa Muwonge, promoter of the Uganda Martyrs devotion, took the bishops through the martyrdom of the holy martyrs, from the time Kabaka Mwanga executed them in 1885 to 1887. He told their (martyrs) story from Munyonyo to Namugongo, where they were put on the pyre and burnt to ashes.

Ntagali said: “the martyrs are our symbol of faith. They made Uganda proud by sacrificing their lives for what they believed in.”

Encouraging pilgrimages to the shrines, Lwanga said; “People come all the way from abroad, to see where the martyrs died. What about us? It does not have to be on the Martyrs Day. You can come any time. Let us promote what our forefathers started,” Lwanga said.

SOURCE: NEW VISION

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