They may be a thousand miles away from motherland, Uganda but will not be left out. Some Ugandans and other Africans based in Europe will find it difficult to make it back home and join the rest of the world in celebrating the Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3 at Namugongo.
This is one reason they have decided to honour the man of God who brought Catholicism to Uganda in 1879, Fr Simeon Lourdel.
United in their association, named Lourdel Mapeera and Ugandan Martyrs (LOMUMA), Ugandans residing and working in Europe notably in the UK are to be joined by fellow Uganda martyrs admirers from Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia, among other African countries in paying tribute to the French priest who is popularly known as Mapeera.
Ricardo Mulinda, a Ugandan residing in London, UK and the central propagator of LOMUMA, said they will celebrate the Ugandan Martyrs Day by visiting and holding Mass at Mapeera’s birth place at Dury in the Pas-de-Calais region of France.
“We cherish the great role played by Mapeera and fellow missionaries in the evangelisation of Uganda and other African countries. We have decided to honour them and this will be done annually on Uganda martyrs day,” Mulinda said.
According to Mulinda, the early Christian missionaries endured difficulties like the hostile African weather, language barrier, cruel tribal chiefs to bring Christianity to Uganda.
“By visiting Mapeera’s childhood home and interacting with his descendants we are demonstrating our appreciation for what these missionaries did for us by not only bringing the Catholic faith but by helping to build hospitals, schools in addition to civilizing the people of African,” he said.
Another Ugandan religious group in London, Christ The King Uganda Catholic Fraternity, has for many years been celebrating the arrival in Kigungu, Entebbe of Fr Mapeera and Brother Amans every February 17. This year the celebrations took place at the Our Lady of Assunpta parish, Bethnal Green.
At the same time the LOMUMA members made a pilgrimage to the UK headquarters of the missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) located at Little Easling lane in West London.
The Ugandans were joined by fellow Africans from DR Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi to celebrate 139th anniversary of the Catholic faith in Uganda.
The main celebrant was Fr Terence Madden, the White Fathers UK provincial delegate.
He praised Fr Mapeera and colleagues for spearheading the teaching of Christianity in Africa despite encountering many hardships.
Mulinda remarked that travelling to the UK missionaries of Africa house was symbolically an act intended to commemorate the journey and arrival of Fr Mapeera and others to Uganda.
On behalf of Congolese faithful, Prof Noel Mbala, the LOMUMA Congolese coordinator, narrated the virtuous life of Mapeera and the wonderful work of the White Fathers which included fighting slave trade.
Prof Mbala urged Catholics to pray for the beatification and canonisation of Fr Mapeera and Brother Amans.
C. Sahogateta on behalf of the Rwandese community, commended the White Fathers, their founder Cardinal Charles Lavigerie and bishops Lavinhac and Jean-Joseph Hirth for the evangelisation work done all over Africa.