Press Release Major African Commemoration

12 June 2014

A significant event in the calendar for the African community in the north of Ireland took place in the College recently. In a first for Belfast, the College hosted the Uganda Martyrs Commemoration, which was attended by members of the African community–mostly from the Bugandan community–from across Britain and Ireland. The gathering was addressed by the new mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon, who spoke of the need for tolerance and multiculturalism. The keynote address for the event was given by Laura Coulter from the Irish Churches Peace Project on the importance of peace building and reconciliation in faith communities today.

The Uganda Martyrs are a group of twenty-three Anglican and twenty-two Catholics from the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda, who were executed between November 1885 and January 1887 for resisting oppression and remaining loyal to their consciences. These African martyrs are recognized and commemorated by the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran Churches across Sub-Saharan Africa, but particularly in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania—the Swahili speaking regions of the sub-continent. Their sacrifice is also acknowledged by the Islamic community across the region. On 3rd June each year, there is a gathering of various faiths to commemorate their struggle. While the main gathering took place in the Basilica Church of the Uganda Martyrs, Namugongo, around the world African communities organised their own events. This year the African community held their commemoration in St Mary’s. There was a service and Mass attended by members of different denominations, a sampling of African food and an evening event which included song and dance from Sub-Saharan Africa. Bishop Noel Treanor was the lead celebrant at the Mass with the Church of Ireland’s Rev. David Maganda and Rev. Canon Thomas Keightley lead participants. A gospel choir attended from London with traditional dancers and singers from Dublin. This event was one of the most vibrant African cultural celebrations of the year.

The following dignitaries attended the event:

  • Councillor Nichola Mallon, Lord Mayor of Belfast
  • The Most Reverend Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor
  • The Reverend Canon Thomas Keightly, Church of Ireland
  • The Reverend Canon Jerome Munyangaju, Church of Ireland
  • Mrs Sylvia Gavigan, Honorary Ugandan High Consul
  • Mrs Laura Coulter, Good Relations worker in North Belfast, Irish Churches Peace Project
  • Mrs Margaret Buckle, President Apostolic Work Society for Down and Connor
  • Fr PJ Cassidy, Delegate Superior, Missionaries of Africa (The White Fathers)
  • Fr Michael Ochwo, Representative of St Joseph’s Missionary Society (Mill Hill Missionaries)
  • Fr Charles Lwanga Kaweesi, Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OSCO)
  • Rev David Maganda, Church of Ireland

Bishop Noel Treanor welcomes the African Gospel Choir from London to St Mary’s.

               Mayor of Belfast, Nichola Mallon, together with Fr Charles Lwanga Kaweesi,
                           President of the Ugandan Association of Northern Ireland and
                                  Mrs Sylvia Gavigan, Honorary Ugandan High Consul.

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