GREAT LOSS: The Death of Janani Luwum at the Hands of a Dictator

The Late Archbishop Janani Luwum
The Late Archbishop Janani Luwum

To many of you who have been following events in this country, Uganda, it won’t be a surprise to find most businesses in the city, Kampala, closed. The few you’ll find open will have no work done. The world today is commemorating the life and backtracking the deeds of the outstanding man of God who stood his ground along with others to denounce the evils of the then ruling millennium dictator in this country, the Republic of Uganda, General Idd Amin Dada.

Late archbishop Janani Luwum is the man being remembered today. He didn’t escape the sharp machete of Uganda’s most feared dictator Amin (1971 to 1979).

Janani Luwum was born in 1922 in a remote village of Mucwini in Kitgum district in northern parts of Uganda.

He rose through ranks in the church of Uganda until he was overwhelmingly elected by the House of Bishops to head the church as archbishop of Uganda, overseeing Rwanda , Burundi and Boga Zaire. The highest see in the church in 1974, a position he held until Amin extricated him in 1977.

As many of you may have known it before, Janani Luwum met his demise when Idd Amin suspected him of having collaborations with political exiles who wanted to overthrow his government by use of gun.

Amin heard rumors from his intelligence operatives that the late had secret underground movements favoring rebel activities, mainly from the neighboring country, The united republic of Tanzania. There, many political dissents had formed their nucleus. After several different attempts to overthrow his government Amin grew wild like an injured Tiger thereby losing trust in everyone. It’s through such circumstances that Amin came to suspect most prominent politicians and religious leaders and hatched a plan to eliminate them.

It was further alleged that big trucks were sighted at Archbishop’s residence loaded with Italian made weapons. Amin tried to have diplomatic dialogue with the deceased concerning the issue of the said weapons. But as Amin was trying all these avenues Luwum would go public on radio and church congregations exposing to the public the acts of murder , extra judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions of his victims. Rumor also had it that Luwum had planned a demonstration within the church on 1976 Christmas day.

On different occasions the late Luwum’s home was ransacked in search for weapons but nothing was found. Luwum together with other six bishops were summoned to Amin’s office. After the meeting the bishops were ordered to leave one by one and Luwum remained behind. They had a hot exchange of words with the would be assassin .

As fate had it then, the late Archbishop Luwum, late Erinayo Wilson Oryem and Charles Oboth Ofumbi were ordered to appear before the Amin to defend themselves against allegations that they had collaborations with the bandits who wanted to overthrow the government. Little is known as to what transpired in closed door meeting between the two parties, only for the public to hear over the radio and other media that the trio as they were travelling from the meeting , were involved in a fatal accident which claimed their lives.

Amin expressed ‘fear’ and sadness over the news and immediately instituted a commission to probe the cause of that accident which cost ‘his dear’ ones their lives. Before the commission was the driver who drove the trio taking them before the beloved head of state.

It was Sgt Moses Okello, who narrated the incident that as he was driving them to the meeting point the trio rose up and tried to grab a pistol from him so that they could not stand before the big man. So, in the scuffle as the driver struggled with them for his dear life the vehicle lost control and they were crushed with an oncoming vehicle.

This narration left many questions in the minds of those who heard about it though nobody could raise a finger in contrary.

Later, on examining the bodies the doctor found that the Late Janani Luwum was shot through the neck. It was a bullet wound, not something else.

After all has been done and said, Hussein, Amin’s son’s praise for his late father as being Pan Africanist, patriotic and nationalistic is an insult to many of us who lost our dear ones at the hands of Dictator Idd Amin .

Today is the second in history when we officially commemorate the late Janani Luwum who was laid to rest at his ancestral home in his village of Mucwini Kitgum district.

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