On 16th February, 1977, Archbishop Janani Luwum was murdered at Nakasero, by then president of Uganda, Idi Amin, following a period of great tension and ugly showdown with Amin and the regime. While the church was preparing to bury him at Namirembe, soldiers secretly transported his desecrated body to Mucwini (his ancestral home and birth place) and dumped it in a hurriedly –dug grave at the church church yard at Wii Gweng on 19th February. This has been St. Janani’s resting place ever since.
St. Janani is a seed of the East African Revival. In a dramatic conversion, in January 1948, Lapwony Janani accepted Christ as his personal Saviour in the tradition of the Revival. At the urging of the Revival leadership, he accepted to leave teaching and enroll for church ministry. Revival leaders were eager to have the new Revival fire lit right inside the church itself.
Born in 1924 in Mucwini, among the Chua people, St. Janani occupied virtually all key positions in the church. These included: Principal of Buwalasi Theological College; Provincial Secretary at Namirembe; and bishop of Northern Uganda. In June 1974, following his unanimous election, he was installed as Archbishop of the ecclesiastical Province, then covering Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga – Zaire (Eastern DR Congo).
What is it about the witness and example of St. Janani that is worthy of great national and global remembrance and celebration? Several things immediately stand out. His passion for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. His deep and abiding faith. Through thick and thin, his clear, unflinching prophetic voice for human rights and social justice. His quiet steely courage and confidence. In the face of everything ominous threat, mortal danger, and ultimately, martyrdom, he never wavered. He seemed to draw from a deep inner well of tranquility. He remained calmly confident and faithful, literally unto death…The values and moral rootedness exemplified by St. Janani are all the more compelling today because the Ugandan society, in particular, has largely lost them. It is a society in the throes of a grave moral crisis, a shauri yako culture in which anything goes. The life and testimony of St. Janani could not be more pertinent and powerful for contemporary Uganda, for Africa and for the whole world. He provides a radical counterpoint to what is glibly celebrated all around us today. In him, we have an authentic hero, a giant in so many telling respects…
An extract from Ambassador Olara Otunnu’s brief biography of St. Janani Luwum