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What they remember about the popes

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st September 2015 10:48 PM

I was among the 12 bishops who were consecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 - Bishop Edward Albert Baharagate, Emeritus of Hoima Diocese

What they remember about the popes

Bishop Edward Albert Baharagate Akiiki, Emeritus of Hoima Diocese

I was among the 12 bishops who were consecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 - Bishop Edward Albert Baharagate, Emeritus of Hoima Diocese

By Juliet Lukwago                    
Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, Retired at Nsambya

I was the chaplain of Makerere University when Pope Paul VI came. My first chance to see him was at Kololo Airstrip where he consecrated 12 bishops. But Kololo was full to capacity and the priests were so many. Even at Namugongo, the crowd was huge.

For Pope John Paul's visit, I was the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kampala and co-host with Government of Uganda. We invited him as Catholic bishops during our official visit (ad Limina) to the Vatican in 1991. He entertained us to a sumptuous lunch and assured us he would think about our request.

When we returned home, we wrote an official invitation letter with government because the Pope is a head of state in his own right.

When the Vatican responded, we had been given five days! We sat as bishops and proposed that he travels to Namugongo, Soroti, Gulu and Kasese, to represent the four regions of the country.

I personally enjoyed the visit. I moved with him to many places and he struck me as a very free, humourous and jokey pontiff.

Bishop Edward Albert Baharagate Akiiki, 85, Emeritus of Hoima Diocese

I was among the 12 bishops who were consecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Five were Ugandans: John Baptist Kakubi (Mbarara), Barnabas Halebimana (Kabale), Serapio Bwemi Magambo and I (Fort Portal).

Those from out were Raphael Ndingi and Emile Njeru (Kenya), Emmanuel Milingo (Zambia), William Mahony and Anthony Salui Sanusi (Nigeria), Jean- Marie-Joseph Pisquire (Cameroon), Andre Fernad Anguile (Gabon) and Constatine Guirma (Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso).

We were airlifted from our retreat at Ggaba to Entebbe in a chopper belonging to Naguru Police Air Wing to welcome the pope at Entebbe. We were all dressed in black cassocks with a pinkish sash. We joined a mammoth crowd on the second floor of the airport, overlooking the runway.

The emotions were high, especially when the aircraft carrying him appeared in the sky approaching Entebbe airport, accompanied by four military jets. We shouted, hugged each other and many cried. When its doors opened and Pope Paul VI appeared, people shouted, ululated and danced. I saw him descend the steps and kiss our soil.
The next day was his official mass at Kololo Airstrip where we were going to be consecrated bishops. We were driven in a bus from Ggaba to Kololo.

The holy mass started at 10am. I can't recall the name of the choir that day but it was so wonderful. We were honoured to become bishops. We took photographs with the Pope after the mass."

Mzee Peter Busomoke, photojournalist at New Vision

I was a student at Modern Secondary School. I went to Entebbe International Airport where we lined up at the Old Airport waiting for Pope Paul VI to arrive. I saw him very well.

It was also my first day to see such a huge number of people in one place. I saw him again in Kisenyi when he opened the church named after St Balikuddembe, one of the Uganda Martyrs. I also went to Namugongo and I remember, it was still under construction.

Later in 1993 when Pope John Paul II came, I was already Photo-Journalist of Focus on Africa which now BBC Magazine.

I travelled with the protocol team led by Nabeta, took photos and I sold to different companies. It's I who started selling photos at churches at sh300each.

I remember one Muslim who brought a photo of the pope kissing the ground, because he was amused to see a Holy Father in a similar posture in which Muslims pray

Maria Leocadia Njala, Bunnamwaya

I was nurse at Lubaga hospital in charge of children's ward. Pope Paul VI came moving around with our medical superintendent, Jone Stone. I shook hands with him! Oh, I was happy!

So many people wanted to shake hands with him! Who was I? I took him around explaining the problem these children had. Our sick children made dolls which they donated to the pope. I don't know whether he took them or he left them here.

Monsignor Charles Kimbowa, Senior Secretary to Archbishop Lwanga

I was a priest of nine years when Pope Paul VI visited. I was teaching at Kisubi Seminary. We took the seminarians on the main road to line up to well come the pontiff. When he reached where we were standing, he stopped and give us blessing for the seminarians.

I got chance to see him again at Lubaga hospital. This time he came where I was and touched me in a special blessing.

As for Pope John Paul II, it was him who gave me the monsignor title on March 18, 1981 when I was celebrating my 50th birthday. I got a chance to see him several times in Rome. 

Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese

During Pope Paul VI's visit to Uganda in 1969, he left us his vestments and crosier and we are still using them today.

Chevalier Tofiri Malokweza, papal Knight

God has blessed me. I have seen two popes: Pope Paul VI, who is the blessed and John Paul II who is a saint. If I see Pope Francis in November, I will be in a bonus. During Paul VI's visit I was youth and friend to Archbishop Emmanuel Kiwanuka Nsubuga.

He chose me to be on the construction committee and also chose my construction company, Malokweza Construction Co. Ltd, to build the tents in which the visitors would sit. We used eucalyptus trees and  tarpaulin.

Joseph Mugomba, Catechist

I saw Pope John Paul II three times when he visited Uganda in February 1993. First, I was on Entebbe road when he arrived, then at Nakivubo stadium where he met the youth; we wanted to shake hands with him but the security was very tight. But he kept moving while waving and shaking the lucky ones in the crowd. I also I went to Namugongo.

In fact there, I spent the whole night because we needed to book the vantage places where we could see properly the next day. 

Lawrence Mbabaali, a carpenter at Ndeeba
In 1993, when Pope John Paul II visited, I was still a youth of 27. We were told he would pass at Katwe where we lined up from early morning. We were still there when another piece of news came saying he was going to pass via Queens' way instead.

We rushed from Katwe to Queens's way in a stampede. He came at around 4pm in an open roof car. I remember the security running besides his car. I felt that was enough, I didn't go to Namugongo because I thought it would be difficult to see him again.

Teo Mugomba, Ndeeba / Kigo along Entebbe road
I saw Pope John Paul II twice. At Nakivubo Stadium, I remember how electricity went off for some minutes and people shouted and abusing the organizers. The place was so full! I bought the pope's photo and a tray and cups as souvenirs. I still have them at home.

Immaculate Lukwago, Masaka

I went to Lubaga to see Pope Paul VI with one of my mother in law. We arrived at around noon and got a chance to enter the Cathedral. The Church was so full and well decorated. The pope came passing through waving and blessing us.

I was pregnant with my first born and was so happy that I promised God that if gave me a baby boy, I would name him Paul. I delivered a baby girl. We reached home at night.

What they remember about the popes

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