Pope Francis’ Visit to Boost Religious Pluralism

Pope Francis to Visit Uganda

Pope Francis’ visit to Uganda this November will boost religious tourism which had been neglected in the past yet it is the source of income for middle east countries like Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Uganda is in a special place in Africa for having the 22 Uganda Martyrs that were killed in religious persecutions of 1885-87 by Kabaka Daniel Basamula Mwanga, canonized in 1964 and led to the historical papal visit to Africa in 1969 in names of Pope Paul VI, second one in 1993 by Pope John Paul II and now the pending one by Pope Francis.

Namugongo Matyrs Shrine is a minor Basilica and annually pilgrims walk to Uganda from the rest of Africa. A modern hotel is under construction by the Uganda Episcopal Conference and house of Bishops is also constructing a museum.

Muslims were the first to be martyred at Namugongo in 1875 by Kabaka Muteesa I for not recognising them as their leader because he was not circumcised even also not pryaing in his mosque at KAsubi which was not facing Mecca and refusing to eat meat of animals not slaughtered by muslims.

However Sunni muslims don’t recognise martyrs very much compared to their Shea Counterparts. In 1969, it was decided that a mosque be put in place in memory of muslim martyrs which Amin Dada promoted in mid seventies. However when it was decided that a special prayer be done annually in their honor, Mufti Shaban Mubajje ruled out saying that muslims only make pilgrimages to the holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. But this does not mean that tourists frm the world over can come for religious sites including the mosque.

President Yoweri Museveni is at the forefront to ensure that by the time the Pope jets in Uganda, most of the infrastructure will be in place including the roads will be renovated. However sources close to the Holy See say that the pope wants his visit to be as modest as possible giving surprise to the government of Uganda that had planned to allocate a good sum of money to the Pope’s visit.


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