Friday, February 16, 2024

The Shepherd who Stared Down a Lion -- Janani Luwum, February 17th


From the 1979 Book of Common Prayer:

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the sake of his flock. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today, our church remembers and celebrates the life and courageous ministry of the Ugandan Archbishop, Janani Luwum, a servant of The Almighty.  Archbishop Luwum was born in1922 in the village of Mucwini in the Kitgum District to Acholi parents. He attended Gulu High School and the Boroboro Teacher Training College, after which he taught at a primary school. Luwum converted to Christianity in 1948, and in 1949 he went to Buwalasi Theological College.  In 1950 he was attached to St. Philip's Church in Gulu and was ordained a Deacon in 1953, and the following year he was ordained a priest. He served in the Upper Nile Diocese of Uganda and later in the Diocese of Mbale.  In 1969 he was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda at Gulu. After five years he was appointed Archbishop of the Metropolitan Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Boga (The Congo), becoming the second African to hold this position.

Archbishop Luwum was a leading voice in criticizing 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.

On that February 16, 1977, the Archbishop was arrested together with two cabinet ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi.  Despite the grandiose political rally announcing the Archbishop's trial, witnesses would tell a different account. 

According to the later testimony of witnesses, the victims had been taken to an army barracks, where they were bullied, beaten and finally shot. Time magazine said "Some reports even had it that Amin himself had pulled the trigger, but Amin angrily denied the charge, and there were no first-hand witnesses".[8] According to Vice President of Uganda Mustafa Adrisi and a Human rights commission, Amin's right-hand man Isaac Maliyamungu carried out the murder of Luwum and his colleagues.

Today, Archbishop Luwum is recognized as Martyr throughout the Anglican Communion with his Feast Day being February 17.

As a post-script it should be noted that Idi Amin, the diabolical despot of Uganda after being deposed, died in exile and was buried unceremoniously in Saudi Arabia.  He awaits the Great and Terrible Day of our Lord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We thank God for the courage of Archbishop Janani Luwum. Amen and Amen. Thank you so much Deacon Andy for your wise writing on our St Janani Luwum.
I thank God I was the last person who prayed , sung and read Psalm.71 for Archbishop's wife Mary Luwum before she died.
Up to now the daughters of Archbishop Janani Luwum treasure me.
Let us be courageous and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and defend the rights of the weak people.
2Timothy.4:1-8 is our portion. Amen and Amen