The special mass for Nyerere’s canonisation was led by the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga
President Yoweri Museveni waves to Christians as Mama Maria Nyerere looks on during the prayers at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine. Photo by Juliet Kasirye
President Yoweri Museveni has described former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere, as a devoted Catholic and patriot who espoused Pan-African values.
Museveni said he was duty bound to celebrate the life of Nyerere and also pray that he become a saint because Nyerere is “my parent, and Mama Maria is my mother”. Mama Maria Nyerere attended the Nyerere prayer day.
“Mwalimu was a devoted Catholic, patriot and Pan-African,” Museveni said urging the congregation to draw a line between being a devoted Catholic and sectarianism.
The celebration of Nyerere Day on June 1, Museveni said signifies the importance of the former Tanzanian President and the people of Tanzania to Uganda.
“Nyerere worked to unite us through politics and now Mama Maria is doing it through the Church,” Museveni said, underscoring the pivotal role that Nyerere played in the liberation struggle of Africa, especially Uganda.
Museveni, who was speaking Kiswahili and English, said if Nyerere was sectarian, Tanzania would not have made progress.
The special mass for Nyerere’s canonisation was led by the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga at the Uganda Martyrs Catholic shrine, Namugongo.
“It was President Museveni who declared June 3 a public holiday. We don’t take it for granted, and we are very grateful indeed. We also thank Mama Nyerere for loving Uganda and the Uganda Martyrs,”Lwanga said, thanking the pilgrims, especially those from Tanzania for gracing the prayers geared towards the journey to the canonisation of Nyerere.
Lwanga cantered his message on three things—rejoicing, remembering and reunion.
“First of all, when we are here, we are remembering God because this is a spiritual place. Then we also remember the martyrs. It was in 1964 that the Uganda martyrs were canonised in a very big atmosphere in Rome,” he said.
Lwanga added: “We are also here to remember Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. He was a great leader in Africa. By the fact that Rome accepted him to be called a servant of God is in itself a sign that Nyerere deserves our prayers so that he can perform miracles and get canonised.”
Citing the example of Uganda Martyrs, Lwanga said before they were canonised, they performed a miracle.
“There were a number of miracles [that Uganda Martyrs] performed. The prominent one was that of two sisters who contracted a disease without cure. They prayed and they got cured. When the miracle was communicated, Rome was suspicious on whether it is true or not? So, they sent a Muslim doctor who verified that it was indeed a miracle,” he said.
Lwanga thanked the President for what he described as unwavering support to both Catholic and Anglican Church martyrs shrines.