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As the country commemorates Uganda's Martyrs day, I would like to join all Ugandans in extending a hand of welcome to all the pilgrims from the Great Lakes region and the many others from distant countries around the world. The event is important in the lessons it teaches, and those who make the trip find it an immense source of spiritual fulfillment in their lifes journey.
Uganda's Martyrs day is particularly an event that highlights the paramount necessity of tolerance amongst people. By and large, religious tolerance amongst the Ugandan citizenry is a living reality.
And almost every Ugandan has a relative and friends from the different faiths in the country. This tolerance is also extended to tribal/ethnic relations which have become increasingly harmonious over the decades though a few issues sometimes pop up here and there. MARTYRS day teaches us that they must all be honestly, fairly, and boldly addressed whenever they arise and sectarianism must be immediately condemned by every single individual whenever they detect it.
This country has suffered enough from its effects.
At its core, the Namugongo Martyrs issue is actually an internal Buganda Kingdom matter. I am actually hoping that Mengo as the cultural institution directly responsible for the sad deaths, starts taking a leading role in the comemmoration events. Otherwise a key question arises: Is religious tolerance and healing part of the event or not? Will we continue to see petty religious wrangles arise every year at this time or is there a common goal here that we can all be part of as a country?
We are fairly lucky that in Uganda we do not have all the endemic intra-religious animosity that exists in Europe, America, Asia or the Middle East. As we watch some of the devastating consequences on television, we wonder what is disturbing someone to such an extent that they can blow themselves up in the midst of innocent civilians, and others send aerial bombings on children's schools and hospitals?
Here in Uganda we cannot even waste our time on these strange behaviours. We like to bargain and communicate and can thereby find common ground very fast. The rest is not really part of our common social psychology.
I was glad to see news media coverage of how the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council also organised prayers on site for both the souls of the Muslims who perished in the same Namugongo events almost a century and ahalf ago, and also prayers for the souls of all the Christians with whom they all perished together in the same fiery furnace.
This is a highly commendable development since the Martyrs comemmorations were previously seen as an exclusively Christian issue, thereby giving way to some bickering every year around June 3rd. Yet this should be an occasion for a common commitment towards social harmony.
At this juncture, on behalf of the Idi Amin family, and as we start thinking about the meaning of National Heroes day which is already upon us this coming Friday 9th June, I wish everyone a reflective Martyrs day holiday, and may the blessings of God Almighty be on this our increasingly united country.

Signed: Hussein Lumumba Amin
3rd June 2017

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