*In 1971 Idi Amin overturned the government of Uganda while President Obote was out of the country. He immediately dissolved Parliament, suspended the constitution, and outlawed political activity. His army began raiding homes and arresting foes. All Asians were expelled. Americans were killed. Robbers were shot on sight. A reign of terror ensued.
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 afterward the archbishop and other leading churchmen were accused of treason.
On February 17 Uganda Radio announced Luwum’s death in a car wreck. The real story was pieced together later. 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.
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.”
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”. 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.
Ironically, Protestants in Uganda had been planning for the 100th birthday of Christianity in their country. A group of gifted young Christians was producing a play about the first martyrs in Uganda. A week after Luwum’s death, the young people themselves became martyrs, their bodies later found a few miles outside Kampala.
Archbishop Luwum is recognized as a martyr by the Anglican Communion and his statue is among the Twentieth Century Martyrs on the front of Westminster Abbey in London. He is honored on the liturgical calendars of the Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Canada, Scottish Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church (USA), and Church in Wales on June 3. He is honored on the liturgical calendars of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia and Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, Church of England on February 17.
Be on your guard! You will be taken to courts and beaten with whips in their meeting places. And because of me, you will have to stand before rulers and kings to tell about your faith. But before the end comes, the good news must be preached to all nations. (Mark 13:9,10)
- “Death of an Archbishop”, Time Magazine, 28 February 1977
- A state of blood: The inside story of Idi Amin (1977) Henry Kyemba
- Amin:The Wild Man of Africa, Time Magazine, 7 March 1977
- Moses Walubiri; Richard Drasimaku (14 May 2014). “Mustafa Adrisi: Life during and after exile”. New Vision. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
- Watuwa Timbiti (12 February 2015). “Luwum murder: What witnesses said”. New Vision. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
Information retrieved from Wikipedia.org 2022 February 16.
*First paragraph, paragraph 6, and scriptures retrieved from Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). 2022 February 16.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1791 – Methodist evangelist John Wesley became ill after preaching at Lambeth then died on March 2nd.
1820 – Levi Parsons arrives in Jerusalem, the first Protestant missionary to found a permanent mission in that city.
1858 – This date marks the anniversary of the day when the Waldensians finally received a guarantee of civil and religious rights.
1898 – Frances Willard, a Methodist crusader for prohibition and women’s rights; died.
1912 – John Nelson “Praying” Hyde, who had served as a missionary in India; died. His last words were, “Shout the victory of Jesus Christ!” He had recently undergone surgery for a malignant tumor of the brain.
2008 – Two members of the Home Guard, bribed by a man who is furious that his wife converted to Christianity, assassinate Pastor Samson Neil Edirisinghe in Ampara, Sri Lanka, critically injuring Edirisinghe’s wife and wounding their two-year-old son.
Information retrieved from ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com 2022 February 16.