Today is 3 June. In Uganda it is marked off people’s calendars as Uganda martyr day. The day the country remembers the over 20 Christians who were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga because of their faith, many years ago.
Over 3000 pilgrims have travelled and some are still travelling from various parts of the country and from other countries to the Uganda
martyrs shrine in Namugongo. Although this is a religious holiday in Uganda, it has been commercialised by so many as a day when they get to make high sales for whatever community or service they provide. This includes the tourism industry. Many people travel to Uganda to visit the shrine during this time, and often times end up visiting other tourist attraction sites in the country. For many tourists on Uganda safaris, the Uganda martyrs shrine is a site of religious tourism. And this is the time when it records the highest number of visitors.The pilgrims’ journey has been reported and journalised by various media houses such as CBS, Eastern voice in Bugiri, Radio four, NBS in Jinja, and many more. Uganda tourism board has been very helpful to the pilgrims this time , leaving information at the border towns of Busia, Mutukula and Katuna, and at Entebbe international airport to enable pilgrims participate in the walk.
Pilgrims have been provided with professional tour guide services by the Uganda Tourist Guide association and Free medical checkups by International Medical Link (IML) so that their trip is a comfortable and a memorable one.
Being such a tourists attraction there have been many suggestions and now proposals to increase its tourism marketability. There is a proposed hotel to be constructed in the area, all in a bid to promote and facilitate religious tourism in Uganda.
This year, the Uganda tourism board has been a main participant in the celebrations, organising a charity walk alone the route that highlights various landmarks where some of the martyrs were killed. The walk is a fundraiser for children with heart disease in Uganda. Pilgrims are registering to be a part of this noble cause by sending Ushs. 10,000 via mobile money services.
UTB is hoping that it will be able to raise about US$ 200,000, to help about 200 children with heart disease. It has been joined by a few other organisations such as MTN Uganda, Uganda Communications Commission, NSSF, New Vision, The observer, The Red pepper, The Uganda police, Fairway hotel, and many more.
Clearly tourism in Uganda is not only about exciting places and historical monuments; it is also about the people.