Ugandans turn ‘tourists’ as Christians from all over the country walk to Namugongo


(Posted 26th May 2017)

Thousands of Christian pilgrims are on the road once again, from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Congo and South Sudan, walking towards the Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo, outside the capital Kampala, to participate in the annual celebration of the Ugandan saints.

During their journeys on foot – moving the same way Jesus himself criss crossed the Holy Land and his apostles then followed in his footsteps are they bracing rain and shine.
Their pilgrimages often take hundreds of kilometres to complete and several groups from Tanzania have been on the road for over two weeks already before reaching Namugongo in time for the 03rd of June celebrations. This phenomenon is in fact growing year by year and following the visit of Pope Francis to the shrine two years ago, have Christians from around the world began to join the faithful from Uganda, the region and notably Nigeria, from where more and more Catholics now make Namugongo their African Lourdes.

(Pictures taken along the Kampala to Mbarara highway of Christians, both Catholics and Anglicans, walking towards Namugongo)

Martyrs Day is also, besides the annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo, Uganda’s key showcase in the annual calendar of events in Eastern Africa, attended by delegations from the private sector, tourism ministries and tourism boards to help promote multi country visits, of course made easier through the common East African tourist Visa.
The Uganda Tourism Board has, more so since the papal visit, taken Namugongo pilgrimage promotions in to overdrive and by the look of it does it pay off as hotels in Kampala and the vicinity of Namugongo are beginning to hang out the ‘Fully Booked‘ signs. Bus operators and airlines too are reporting peaking demand for travel to Uganda in the days immediately prior to the 03rd of June, when Uganda celebrates Martyrs Day the way only the people of the ‘Pearl Of Africa‘ are capable of doing.
If in Uganda and especially Kampala on the 03rd of June, do join the faithful in Namugongo where more than a million people are expected to congregate for the day’s prayers and services.
A word of caution though, access the event venue early to avoid being stuck in traffic and reaching late, though the saint’s would probably understand this.

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