As we commemorate St. Janani Luwum Day on this Tuesday, 16th February 2021, a public holiday in Uganda, my thoughts are plagued with the English idiom “dance on someone’s grave.” Yes, I admit that since my own father’s passing on 1st November 2020, certain truths unfolding about actions of people that my late father, Engineer George William Obityo Owaraga, trusted have heightened my belief in the idiom “dance on someone’s grave.” But, that is a story for another day, I digress.
“Archbishop Luwum was a leading voice in criticising the excesses of the Idi Amin regime that assumed power in 1971. In 1977, Archbishop Luwum delivered a note of protest to dictator Idi Amin against the policies of arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances. Shortly afterwards the archbishop and other leading churchmen were accused of treason (and shortly afterwards were murdered by Idi Amin, it is believed.)”Source Wikipedia
Are the main celebrants at the official government festivities to commemorate St. Luwum’s Day worthy to be so and to do so? Are we, Ugandans as a whole, worthy if viewed through the lens and philosophy of St. Luwum? How many of us can truly testify that we are consistent in our resolve to “Cherish the value of upholding and defending the truth at all times?”
Sadly, 50 decades later, seemingly, we have traveled full-circle with plenty terrifying reports in the press about alleged state sanctioned kidnaps, abductions, torture, executions, and other alleged state sanctioned atrocities being meted out on Ugandans – ordinary and extra ordinary alike.
Hon. Winnie Kiiza, Woman Member of Parliament Representing Kasese District and former Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, protesting increased insecurity to person in Uganda. (Original photo source: Hon. Winnie Kiiza’s Facebook wall.)
The abduction and the illegal detention of Kakwenza Rukirabashaija for the crime of authoring a fiction novel “The Greedy Barbarian”; and his subsequent torture by state operatives as he has written about in his book: “Banana Republic,” are two examples, among thousands, even perhaps millions, of incidences which show how we seem travelled full circle.
Dr. Stella Nyanzi in the dock in court being represented by Mr. Nicholas Opiyo. (Photo credit @ The Guardian)
Other prominent examples include the on-going seeming persecution by the state of the award-winning human rights lawyer, Mr. Nicholas Opiyo, for his work; including defending Dr. Stella Nyanzi, an academic and human rights activist, for she too is seemingly persecuted by the state for criticizing the current administration.
St. Janani Luwum’s statue is among the Twentieth Century Martyrs on the front of Westminster Abbey in London (Photo credit @ West Minister Abbey)
Are we worthy of St. Janani Luwum Day? May be not currently. Current, as a nation, we have failed St. Luwum. But all is not lost, for we can still find our way back and our voice back to speak truth to power, like St. Luwum did.
Post profile photo of St. Janani Luwum @ Wikimedia Commons