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Archbishop Janani Luwum Day – February 16, 2023

Archbishop Janani Luwum Day is observed every February 16 in Uganda. The day recognizes the pivotal contributions of Janani Luwum, former Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda. It is widely known that he was murdered on the orders of Uganda’s former President Idi Amin because he was very vocal in his criticism of Amin’s dictatorship and excesses in leadership. Despite being gone for over 40 decades, Archbishop Janani’s legacy lives on and he is today regarded as “one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa.”

History of Archbishop Janani Luwum Day

Janani Luwum was the third Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Boga-Zaire. He was born in 1922 and converted to Christianity in 1948. Six years later, in 1954, he became a priest; after rising in rank over the years, he was appointed Church Archbishop in 1974.

Following a military coup in 1971, dictator Idi Amin proclaimed himself President of Uganda. His regime was fraught with human rights violations, corruption, and political embezzlement. An estimated 100,000 people were killed during his rule.

Archbishop Luwum was vocal about his criticism of Amin’s regime and was a prominent figure in the opposition. He encouraged others to speak out and was devoted to his ministry. A leading voice of resistance, he boldly delivered a note in 1977 to the president, protesting against his unjustified killings, policies, and unexplained abductions. Luwum was arrested on February 16, 1977, and accused of treason for allegedly staging a coup. Two cabinet ministers who were supportive of Luwum’s cause were also convicted. Following a supposed car crash, the three were announced dead. A story circulated stating that the prisoners attempted to fight the driver. When Luwum’s family received his body, however, they found it to contain gunshot wounds.

The death of Archbishop Luwum was supposed to end the opposition against Amin’s repressive regime, but the opposite happened. His death became a turning point in Ugandan history. Today, Archbishop Janani Luwum’s statue is among other twentieth-century martyrs at the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, and he is recognized by the Church of England as a hero. A public holiday to commemorate his death was suggested in 2015 and observed for the first time on February 16, 2016.

Archbishop Janani Luwum Day timeline

1880—1887
The First Martyrs

The first martyrs in Uganda are murdered, in hopes of silencing their dissenting voices and values.

1924
The Birth of a Leader

Archbishop Luwum is born in Mucwini, Chua County, Uganda, and he pursues his education at Gulu High School.

1977

1977
The Death by Murder

Archbishop Luwum is murdered on February 16 by orders of then President Idi Amin.

1988
The Man Who Killed a Cleric

Former Vice President of Uganda Mustafa Adrisi testifies on August 10, that Major Moses Okello Brigadier Isaac Malyamungu killed the Archbishop.

Archbishop Janani Luwum Day FAQs

Where was Archbishop Janani Luwum buried?

Archbishop Janani Luwum was buried at St Paul’s Church of Uganda in Wii-Gweng village, Mucwin Subcounty, in Kitgum District. There are current plans to turn it into a pilgrimage site with a tomb, a new church, and a sculpture.

Is Archbishop Janan Luwum a saint?

With a statue in his honor unveiled in 1998 at the church in Westminster Abbey, London – the church of England named him a saint.

Did Archbishop Janan Luwum have a family?

Yes, he did. Together with his wife Mary Lawinyo Luwum they had nine children.

How to Observe Archbishop Janani Luwum Day

  1. Learn about Archbishop Janani Luwum

    Learn more about Archbishop Janani Luwum and his service to the Church and the people of Uganda. There is plenty of information available able this man.

  2. Watch a documentary

    There are many documentaries and videos available on this influential figure. Get to learn about his values that threatened the regime and led to his assassination.

  3. Read about Uganda’s political history

    Uganda’s political history has come a long way. Read about it and how Archbishop Luwam’s work changed the political future of Uganda forever.

5 Facts About Archbishop Janani Luwum

  1. He was the third Archbishop

    Janani Luwum was the third Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire.

  2. He joined Priesthood at a young age

    Janani Luwum became a priest at the age of 26.

  3. He rose quickly through the ranks

    He became an Archbishop in 1974; 20 years after becoming a priest.

  4. His values drove his leadership

    Archbishop Janani Luwum spread the word of God, which was the foundation of his leadership and principles.

  5. A massive turnout

    In Nairobi, more than 10,000 people gathered for Archbishop Janani Luwum’s memorial service.

Why Archbishop Janani Luwum Day is Important

  1. It honors a great leader

    This is a great day to honor a man who held several positions as a leader, a figure of the Church, and the voice of people and communities in Uganda. It is an honor to commemorate the life and work of Archbishop Janani Luwum

  2. He did not die in vain

    Archbishop Janani Luwum’s death changed Uganda’s history and political sphere forever. Without his persistence and courageous stand against the oppressive regime, Uganda may not have gradually come out of the clutches of its vicious political leaders.

  3. Learning from history

    It is important to study history. This is the only way we can learn from our mistakes and not let history repeat itself.

Archbishop Janani Luwum Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 16Thursday
2024February 16Friday
2025February 16Sunday
2026February 16Monday
2027February 16Tuesday

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