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Janani Luwum

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Janani Luwum
108px
Denomination Anglican Communion
Senior posting
See Kampala
Title Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda
Period in office 1974 — 1977
Predecessor Erica Sabiti
Successor Salvanus Wani
Religious career
Priestly ordination 1953
Previous bishoprics Anglican Church Province of northern Uganda,
Archbishop of the Metropolitan Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire
Previous post Bishop
Personal
Date of birth 1922
Place of birth Kitgum District
Date of death 17 February 1977
Place of death Kampala

Janani Jakaliya Luwum (1922 – 17 February 1977), was the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1974 to 1977 and one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa. He was murdered in 1977 by either Idi Amin personally or by Amin's henchmen.

Early life and career

Luwum was born in the village of Mucwini in the Kitgum District to Acholi parents. He attended Gulu High School and 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. He 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 1961 he was consecrated bishop of the Anglican Church Province of northern Uganda at Gulu. After five years he was appointed archbishop of the Metropolitan Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire, becoming the second African to hold this position.[1]

Arrest and death

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 16 February 1977, Luwum was arrested together with two cabinet ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi. The same day Idi Amin convened a rally in Kampala with the three accused present. A few other "suspects" were paraded forth to read out "confessions" implicating the three men. The archbishop was accused of being an agent of the exiled former president Milton Obote, and for planning to stage a coup. The next day, Radio Uganda announced that the three had been killed when the car transporting them to an interrogation center had collided with another vehicle. The accident, Radio Uganda reported, had occurred when the victims had tried to overpower the driver in an attempt to escape.[2] When Luwum's body was released to his relatives, it was riddled with bullets. Henry Kyemba, Minister of Health in Amin's government, later wrote in his book A State of Blood, that “The bodies were bullet-riddled. The archbishop had been shot through the mouth and at least three bullets in the chest. The ministers had been shot in a similar way but one only in the chest and not through the mouth. Oryema had a bullet wound through the leg.”[3]

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, of course, no firsthand witnesses".[4]

WestminsterAbbey-Martyrs

Luwum Statue (right) - Westminster Abbey

Janani Luwum was survived by a widow, Mary Lawinyo Luwum and nine children. He was buried at his home village of Mucwini in the Kitgum District. He is recognised as a martyr by the Church of England and his death is commemorated on 17 February as a Lesser Festival. His statue is among the Twentieth Century Martyrs on the front of Westminster Abbey in London.

References

  1. Gordon Landreth, Heroes – Janani Luwum
  2. "Death of an Archbishop", Time Magazine, February 28, 1977
  3. A state of blood: The inside story of Idi Amin (1977) Henry Kyemba
  4. Amin:The Wild Man of Africa, Time Magazine, March 7, 1977

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