Tanzania: Many Pray for Nyerere Beatification
The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
7 June 2011
Kampala — The East African region might be on course to having its first saint, if the annually congregation at Namugongo parish recently bears fruits. This year, it coincided with celebrations to mark the Uganda Martyrs Day.
But it also opened a new chapter of the Nyerere beatification process.
A special service held at the Namugongo Catholic Shrine in Kampala, was directed to God to "accept intercession through the late Nyerere".
If a Christian's problem is solved after praying through Nyerere's intercession, the former president will be on course to beatification, a first step to canonisation or sainthood.
Hoima Diocese Bishop Emeritus Edward Baharagate led the service on the day now annually celebrated by Tanzania as Nyerere Day.
Those who attended included President Museveni, Tanzanian Premier Mizengo Peter Pinda, Charles Makongoro Nyerere - son of the late President, the Rev Fr Alfred Kwene, who represented Bukoba Diocesean Bishop Methodius Kilaini and Mr Mamerito Mugerwa, the Mayor of Kira Town Council, in Namugongo parish, where the Uganda Martyrs were burnt to death.
Christians from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, also in attended.
President Museveni described the late Nyerere as the "the greatest black man" who practised Christianity by caring for all people. He commended Nyerere for his effort towards political and economic emancipation of Tanzania and Africa at large and also for promoting literacy through the introduction of universal education and establishing Dar-es-Salaam University.
The President said Africa is getting out of darkness through education.
"We shall continue coming to Namugongo to pray for the beautification and finally for Mwalimu's canonisation. If we continue knocking and asking, Rome will open for us," President Museveni said.
Pilgrims continued streaming in from different areas of Uganda and other countries. Some walked while others travelled in taxis and buses.
"This year, we are expecting between 700,000 and one million pilgrims," Fr Joseph Mukasa Muwonge, the promoter of the Namugongo Martyrs Shrine project said. The rotational leadership of the celebrations this year falls to Arua Diocese of Uganda.
Moroto Diocese led last year while Kabale Diocese was in charge in 2009.
As a security precaution, police this time proscribed erection of makeshift stalls by business people and food vendors.
As a way of showing support to the church, later that week President Yoweri Museveni promised church leaders that, his government would continue to support the work of the church and support different institutions for the development of the country.
On the Martyrs' day, as expected hundreds of thousands of Pilgrims from different parts of the world flocked Namugongo.
On a speech delivered on his behalf by the Vice President Edward Ssekandi, Mr Museveni used the Martyrs' day that coincided with prayers for beatification of Mwalimu Nyerere to commend the church for the partnership with government especially in the areas of human development.
The church since time memorial had played a significant role in the provision of education aids, and economic opportunity to Ugandans, he said.
"The government is grateful to this partnership because it has benefited from construction of schools, education institutions, economic development programmes, health centres and charitable organisations which rooted the foundation of the church.
This contribution has gone a long way in uplifting the standard of living for many Ugandans," he said.
He said 3rd June was a memorable day in the lives of people of all Ugandans, Christians, Muslims and even traditionalists it signifies a strong divine foundation on which Uganda is built, that became a reality as a result of blood of Uganda Martyrs.
"The significance of martyrs' day transcends even our borders. There are Pilgrims from other countries with us today. It indeed reminds us of our obligation to love God and our country and love one another as we gather here in commemoration of 22 Ugandans who died for the faith in God," he said.
Mr Museveni said also that commitment to vocation will produce good results which would in turn positively contribute to development of the country.
About 656 pilgrims from Kenya were, 663 Tanzanias, Democratic Republic of Congo (741), 336 Rwandese, more than 100,000 Ugandan and 96 from Malawi attended the Uganda Martyrs' day commemoration.
Also present were 90 Nigerian, 17 American, 2150 Burundian, and 2 Australian among other nationals.
The commemoration was attended by Mama Nyerere, Ministers from the Ugandan government, Members of parliament, and diplomats from different parts of the world.
Arua Diocesean Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki was the Chief Celebrant at the Uganda Martyrs' Catholic Shrine, Namugongo, where Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi represented government.
Co-celebrants included Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, who is also the chairman of the Ugandan Episcopal Conference, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga - Archbishop of Kampala, and several other local and international prelates and priests.
Be the first to Write a Comment!