The Karimojong Warrior Dancers have made a record. This year’s annual martyrs celebrations on 3rd June were led by Bishop Giussepe Filippi of Kotido located North Eastern Uganda. He was accompaned by the diocean choir and a troupe of Karimojong warriors donned in traditional garb in a gallantry of hymn, dance and worship to the delight of Pilgrims.
This year attendance hit the one million mark with President Yoweri Museveni being the chief Pilgrim. Also in attendance was Maria Nyerere widow of the founding Father of The Republic of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
The President committed government support to the development of the martyrs’ shrines into tourism attractions. This will add impetus to efforts by the Uganda Tourism Board in promoting religious tourism that began with a martyr’s charity walk dubbed ‘in the Footsteps of The Uganda Martyrs the previous day.
Pilgrims came from as far as Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda,Kenya, the United States of America and Nigeria.
Over 45 martyrs were burnt alive in 1886 on the orders of the reigning kabaka (king) of Buganda following growing dissent in the kings court from the new converts to Christianity at the height of colonial struggle.
Festivities will be held in the same venue on the 18th October to commemorate Golden Jubilee since the canonization of the Catholic martyrs by Pope Paul VI.This shall coincide with the commemoration of the martyrdom of lesser known martyrs Jildo Irwa and Daudi Okello from Acholiland in Northern Uganda who were martyred almost 25 years later in Paimol.