Martyrs trail: Namwanga’s 10-year experience
For 10 years, 78-year-old Teddy Namwanga has been trekking more than 130km to Namugongo to pay homage to the 22 Catholic Uganda Martyrs.
From her village of Kibindi-Kyabato in Buwunga Sub County, Masaka district, Namwanga walks up Kitovu Cathedral, the seat of Masaka Catholic Diocese where she joins other faithful to walk all the way to Namugongo.
This soul searching journey takes them about four days.
“I started in June 2009, getting inspired by fellow parishioners at Kitovu. The journey has always been successful,” said the mother of two.
Before taking the pilgrimage to Namugongo, Namwanga had limited herself to the annual pilgrimages to Kalooli Lwanga’s shrine at Birinzi near Bukakata in Masaka, Bruno Sserunkuuma’s birthplace at Ssaza in Masaka Municipality and Yoanna Maria Muzeyi’s shrine at Minziiro in Kyotera district at the Uganda – Tanzania border.
She could also not miss the pilgrimage to Bugoma in Kalangala district where the first Catholic missionaries Fr Loudel mon Pierre (Mapeera) and Brother Amas first settled when they arrived in Uganda in 1879.
Since she changed course and took the more challenging trek to Namugongo, Namwanga has no regrets.
“We move in a big group of about 700 people, but most of them get sick on the way and they are taken on vehicles, others are rushed to hospital, but I thank God I have never developed any complications,” she said.
On their journey, they go singing hymns which Namwanga energizes them as they walk.
She attributes her strength to the late Msgr Aloysius Ngobya and Sr. Amedeo Byabali who are being fronted by Masaka diocese for beatification.
“I will not stop moving until their beatification and canonization is done,” Namwanga said.
In 2016, she lost her money to pickpockets at Namugongo leaving her without money for transport back to Masaka.
“I had kept it in my bag, but on checking, there was nothing. I prayed to the Martyrs to help me find my way back to Masaka,” Namwanga said.
Without any options, she decided to clean the Namugongo Martyrs shrine compound before a man walked up to her and gave her Shs 50,000.