President Yoweri Museveni has Wednesday morning opened the celebrations to mark this year’s Martyrs Day at the Namugongo Shrine.
The Celebrations are being conducted by Bishop John Baptist Odama of the Lira Archdiocese, which led this year’s celebrations.
Over a million pilgrims from countries including UK, France, Canada, Nigeria India, DRC, Malawi, USA, Somalia, South Africa, Burundi, Rwanda South Sudan Tanzania, Kenya Zambia Mozambique Angola Namibia, Mauritius, Ethiopia and Uganda are attending the celebrations.
Speaking at the celebrations, President Museveni touched on government’s arrangements to develop and modernize the Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo as part of preparations of a possible visit of ‘important guests from outside.’
“I am in talks with the Archbishop Kizito Lwanga on this matter; we are discussing the formula that we should use to beautify this place just in case we host those important people. I am using the words ‘In case,'” said the President.
Museveni last year personally extended an invite to Pope Francis to visit Uganda.
However, the church recently said it was yet to receive any communication from Rome about the Pope’s trip to Uganda.
Museveni announced government’s plans to construct the road from Kireka to the shrine, with wide shoulders to allow pilgrims walk without collision.
He also appealed to Ugandans to uphold the peace and unity that the country has enjoyed over the past decades.
“I have seen in the news, pilgrims trekking long distances, sleeping in the bushes without being disturbed by anyone,” he said.
Now that Uganda has peace and unity, the president said, government would focus on development first by setting up modern infrastructure and then turn the guns on poverty.
He told the pilgrims that poverty is ungodly: “All Christians should be healthy and prosperous because only then will the people of world look at you, admire you and praise your God. But if you are poor, dirty and unhealthy, people of the world will not be attracted to join Christianity.”