St. Janani Luwum Memorial Site in Kitgum District is yet to meet the expectations of the visitors.
In 2016, the Uganda Tourism-UTB declared St. Janani Luwum burial grounds a national tourism site and called on the local community to own the investments in the area.
In 2017, President Museveni pledged that government would build a monument and memorial center at Wii-Gweng to keep the memory of Janani Luwum alive. He however did not specify how much, or how much time will be dedicated to the project.
According to the approved conceptual masterplan for the site, there will be a tomb, public plaza, basilica, museum, altar, prayer arena, a garden of remembrance, martyrs’ village, athletic field, and educational facilities.
However, seven years later, the place has not attracted any form of investment, and none of the developments promised by the government have started.
Rev. Concy Amigo, the Parish Priest of St. Paul Church of Uganda, Wii-Gweng, where St Janani Luwum was buried, says that each year, they receive up to 200-300 tourists; including learners, and locals from other districts within Uganda as well as tourists from abroad.
He however says that the visitors are disappointed with what they find at the site.
Rev. Amigo said because of the sorry condition of the site, the church leaders and Christians planned to start developing the site by fencing the grave site, to protect the grave from destruction by stray animals.
She believes that when the place is fenced, it will help the church start collecting some money from tourists, which amount will be determined at the end of the year, to facilitate someone they plan to deploy at the site to keep the place clean.
Rev. Amigo revealed that at the moment, no one stays at the site so many tourists go to the place, take pictures and leave without any formality.
The Church, together with the support from the congregation is now building a house for the catechist so that he lives nearby to receive tourists.
Godwin Ocen, a resident of Mucwini East, noted that the site does not reflect the prominence of Janani Luwum. “I think even the English revere him more than we do, and it is a shame because he was our own,” Ocen said.
Archbishop Luwum is recognized by the Church of England, which is the mother of the Church of the Anglican Communion, as one of the only ten martyrs of the 20th century. In 1998, he was given a special place in the history of the Anglican Church when a statute was unveiled at Westminster Abbey to honor him.
Luwum, the then Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire, was murdered on February 16, 1977, in Kampala and is buried at his ancestral home in Wii Gweng Village, in Mucwini West Sub County in Kitgum district.
Rogers Olanya one of the local leaders in Mucwini, said although the government promised to develop the places years ago, their pledge is yet to materialize.
Olanya suggested that the community should start contributing finances to undertake small developments in the area as they continue lobbying and reminding the government to honor its pledge.
Olanya noted that those with money can start by building lodges and hotels, to provide accommodation and refreshments to tourists.
Located about 23 kilometers away from Kitgum Municipality, the memorial site is blessed with places that can boost tourism in the area, such as the mass grave at Pajong, where 56 bodies of people killed by the LRA in 2002 were buried and the blue water stream at Aringa.URN
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