Pilgrim dies few meters before reaching Namugongo

There is a somber mood at the Uganda Martyrs Anglican shrine following the death of one of the pilgrims. #News #UgandaNews #WhisperEyeNews

Jackline Arinaitwe, 49, a resident of Katokori village in Katanda sub-county in Rubirizi district collapsed to death today Monday.

According to Rev Bernard Amujuni, who led 103 pilgrims from West Ankole, Arinaitwe was jolly all long from home and seemed okay. He adds that the deceased was moving with vigour as they embarked on the last mile having covered over 380 kilometers on foot from home but suddenly collapsed and fell down minutes after the group had passed by the Catholic shrines at around 11:00 am.    

Rev Amujuni notes that he rushed to hold Arinaitwe and thought of rushing her to the nearby Zai Angelina health clinic, but she was already cold. He held the lifeless body on the streets for several minutes until he saw a church official from their home. As crowds gathered, the police were alerted and arrived at the scene only to confirm that the pilgrim had passed away.     

The pilgrims left their homes in West Ankole on May 20 and made 10 stopovers. Prior to the departure of the pilgrims, the clergy from both the Catholic and Anglican churches requested the faithful with any health conditions not to walk to Namugongo. They also advised the pilgrims to go for a medical checkup where possible before embarking on the long trek.     

However, only a few people, if any at all usually heed such advice. Amujuni notes this particular advice was critical for the Anglicans given the fact that many of them are not used to walking such long journeys.   

“Anglicans from our diocese are not yet used to the long-distance as many of them are just starting to make the pilgrimage. From West Ankole, this is just the seventh year for them to walk to Namugongo with many walking for the first time,” he said.  

In a recent interview, Rt Rev Sheldon Mwesigwa, the bishop of Ankole diocese noted that Anglicans never used to make a pilgrimage to Namugongo due to the teachings of their church. He however noted that over the years, the Anglican theology on martyrs has been influenced by Catholics – with many Anglicans now yearning to move on foot to pay homage to the martyrs who were killed because of their faith.

At least 23 Anglican and 22 Catholics were executed between January 31, 1885, and January 27, 1887, on the orders of then Kabaka (king) of Buganda after they refused to renounce their faith and instead pay homage to the king.

Meanwhile, the Anglican site seemed not prepared as far as health preparations for the pilgrims are concerned. Unlike their counterpart at the Catholic shrines who have erected tents where each group of pilgrims arriving is kept and observed for some minutes and given some care, this is lacking at the Anglican shrines.

Those who arrive are just welcomed and told to find a place to sit. Following the morning incident, Rev Esua Bossa Kimanje, the vicar in charge of Namugongo martyrs site noted that they are in the process of setting up a tent where they will hold the new pilgrims to ensure that they are looked after well after covering the long journey