On September 15 the Archbishop of the Church of the province of Uganda, His Grace Stanley Ntagali, commissioned the Church of Uganda martyrs’ Museu
On September 15 the Archbishop of the Church of the province of Uganda, His Grace Stanley Ntagali, commissioned the Church of Uganda martyrs' Museum Namugongo Development committee whose key objective is making the Anglican site a one-stop international tourist attraction showcasing the rich religious and cultural values of Uganda.
The Anglican (COU) was previously run under the banner of Church Mission Society and Native Anglican church and it pioneered education, health and other social service provision, nonetheless, there was a lull in promoting social economic activities that would create wealth for the church which would in turn be used to spread the gospel.
The history of Protestantism in 19th Century Europe closely identified with the rise of the Protestant work ethic that resulted in economic advancement of northern Europe and United States of America.
The Protestant work ethic was characterised by hard work and frugality and these were attributed to salvation of the individual.
While many members of the Anglican (COU) imbibed the Protestant work ethic, including members of East African Revival: Abarokore in early 1930s, the individuals thrived intellectually, economically and socially.
Surprisingly, the Church as an institution did not benefit since it avoided undertaking economic ventures that were viewed largely as 'worldly'.
It is perhaps for this reason that President Museveni on his visit to the Anglican site on June 3 challenged Church of Uganda to popularise the Anglican martyrs by drawing a leaf from their Catholic counterparts who had invested in their martyrs' shrine.
President Museveni's message was timely and apparently the vision to transform Namugongo Anglican site was hatched by retired Archbishop Nkoyooyo in 2013 and since then it has evolved, following fund-raising efforts and mobilisation of all the dioceses.
At present the core site of the martyrs which is at the Anglican site is under construction and is at roofing stage and the museum project, among other things, will comprise 100-roomed guesthouse that will attract tourists and local guests.
The significance of the Anglican site which is expected to be visited briefly by Pope Francis on November 28 houses the remains of the 13 Anglican martyrs and 12 Catholic martyrs that are buried under the altar of the COU martyrs memorial chapel.
The chapel sits on the 48-acre land that was donated by Teffero Kisosonkole, a Buganda Anglican notable, who had survived Kabaka Mwanga's wrath.
The core site is also home to Mukajjanga's command post where as chief executioner, he engineered the execution of the martyrs.
The torture tree (Ndazabazadde a phrase in Luganda translated as the plight of women who deliver only to lose their children) on which the martyrs were tied and tortured is also at the Anglican site and so is the martyrs spring well where the executioners would go for ritual cleansing and cleaning of their killing instruments.
It is high time the Anglican (COU) popularised the Anglican site of the Uganda martyrs despite the theological articulation that views martyrs as those who simply inspire our faith and raise our commitment to Christ but not as Catholics who view martyrs as saints who are highly regarded mortals and objects of veneration that can intercede for believers.
The difference in theological articulation is the reason why we refer to a Catholic martyrs shrine and an Anglican (COU) martyrs site.
In addition to martyrs being witnesses of Christ and inspiring faith of believers in the Anglican (COU), they can be a source of income to the church in this era of faith tourism and after all, as one Nigerian Protestant accountant put it, 'Money pushes the gospel.'
Rt. Rev. Dr. Mwesigwa (P hd.) is the Bishop Ankole Diocese/ COU Uganda Martyr's Museum Namugongo Development Committee member