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Who was he and why is he celebrated?

Janani Luwum was born on the 1st of March, 1922 in Mucwini Village, which is now known as the district of Kitgum, in the northern part of Uganda. He was born in eastern Uganda to the Acholi family and brought up in the Anglican faith tradition. Luwum's faith was unmistakably evident from his early years, and he had a remarkable dedication to serving the people around him. He went to nearby schools, then enrolled at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda, where he trained as a priest.


He finished his theological studies in 1956 and was ordained as a priest in the Church of Uganda. He carried out the duty in many parishes, and soon he earned recognition as a caring and diligent priest. His leadership qualities captured the attention of others and he was soon promoted to the position of a bishop for Northern Uganda in 1969.


In 1974 Janani Luwum was appointed Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire. This was the highest position in the church and gave him spiritual leadership for millions of Anglicans in East Africa. As the Archbishop, who did not give up, Luwum continued to plead for justice, peace and the respect of human rights. He started criticizing the oppression and tyranny and advocating for the welfare of the poor and powerless.


In his time as the Archbishop, Uganda was experiencing a dictatorship, in which the President, Idi Amin Dada, had taken over the government through a military coup in 1971. Amin's dictatorship had human rights violations, political repression, and violence in its entourage. Despite the dangers for him, he fearlessly opposed the government's infrastructure and defended the rights of the oppressed and the socially backward people.


On the 16th day of February 1977, Archbishop Janani Luwum together with 2 government ministers were arrested on allegations of treason. However, he was detained and interrogated, but information about his death has been unavailable. The official government report stated that he was killed in an automobile accident which occurred during his attempt to escape from custody. Nevertheless, some believed that he was killed by the government with certainty.


Janani's death had a very big impact not only on Ugandans but also around the world. The killing of Nsobya led to a mobilization against Amin's administration and brought the attention of the world to the atrocities and brutal political persecution happening in Uganda. He became an icon of bravery, devotion and defiance in the face of tyrants.


As a reminder of his life and sacrifice, from the day, February 16th was declared the Janani Luwum Day, a public holiday in Uganda to celebrate his memory. The Luwum day of the Ugandans who are from different backgrounds is the time when they come together to remember the bravery of the Archbishop, Luwum's faith, and his commitment to justice. Churches conduct special services, praying sessions, and rites with the same idea in mind – to honour his life and what he stood for.


Jonah Edlin

Year 13



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