Janani Luwum was the third Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Burundi and Zaire. He was born in 1922, converted to Christianity in 1948 and became a priest in 1951 before he was appointed Church Archbishop in 1974
He got the rank of Archbishop after Idi Amin’s military coup in 1971 and self- proclamation as the president of Uganda. Idi Amin’s rule was fraught with human rights violation, corruption, political embezzlement as well as killings of over 100,000 people.
Janani Luwum was very vocal in his criticism against the injustices, policies and unexplained abductions by the then government. In 1977, Archbishop Luwum delivered a note to Idi Amin, protesting against the policies of unjustified killings and unexplained disappearances.
He was arrested on February 16, 1977 and accused of treason for allegedly staging a coup; two cabinet ministers who were supportive of him were also convicted. A story circulated that prisoners attempted to escape by fighting the driver leading to a car crash and announced that these three died that car crash.
When the family of Luwum received his body, they found it to contain gunshot wounds. Even though he rested then, his legacy lives on and he is considered to be “one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa” and his statue is among the other twentieth century martyrs at the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London
Luwum is considered a martyr because he stood firm in tough times and preached the gospel uncompromisingly; spoke the truth, walked the truth and died for the truth hence February 16th was made a public holiday to commemorate his death.
Janani Luwum Day is a great reminder of the injustices that go on in our communities, and that we are the voice we need to hear, and we must do the acts that we desire to see.
15th- February – 2023